Moscow Mitch Writes Love Song To All The Senate Norms He's F*cked Before
The New York Times published a work of fiction today from Mitch McConnell. The tortoise who wrecked the Senate passionately defended the legislative filibuster, which he argues plays a "crucial role in our Constitutional order." McConnell isn't just a singularly graceless liar. He also thinks you're stupid.
This is how his fairy tale begins:
" You'll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think."
That was my warning to Senate Democrats in November 2013.
Don't you just love a story that kicks off with someone's straight-up gangster declaration? The Godfather at least opened with a wedding. McConnell likes to cast former Democratic leader Harry Reid as the villain who blew up Senate norms so Barack Obama could pack the courts with Castro clones. This isn't what happened. The Republican Senate minority blocked countless Obama executive branch appointments. They were not "controversial," as McConnell claims -- they just weren't right wing hacks. Republicans also used the filibuster to "negotiate" legislative concessions. They were close to demanding protection money from Obama, so Reid went nuclear. McConnell, naturally, takes no responsibility for this. He repeatedly broke his word to Reid and refused to honor previous commitments.
Strong minority rights have always been the Senate's distinguishing feature. But when appeals to principle fell on deaf ears, I tried a practical argument. The political winds shift often, I reminded my Democratic friends. And I doubted they'd like their new rules when the shoe was on the other foot.
In case you haven't noticed, neither Reid nor Obama is in office anymore, so if the filibuster was so important to McConnell, he could've easily reversed the damage. The filibuster isn't the Amazon. McConnell, who is devoid of principle, doesn't have a convincing argument other than pettiness for why he's trampled over the Democratic minority since assuming power in 2015.
In 2017, we took the Reid precedent to its logical conclusion, covering all nominations up to and including the Supreme Court.
McConnell has this annoying habit of claiming Democrats somehow set the"precedent" for his own terrible actions. When he refused to even hold hearings for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, McConnell invoked the "Biden precedent," which wasn't actually a thing, because Reid killed the filibuster for executive branch appointments only. How does that reasonably justify killing it for lifetime judicial appointments? Either the filibuster plays a crucial role or it doesn't. The last two Matrix movies sucked, but the "logical conclusion" isn't that the upcoming sequel must be worse -- if that's even possible.
So this is the legacy of the procedural avalanche Democrats set off: Justice Neil Gorsuch, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and 43 new lifetime circuit judges — the most ever at this point in a presidency. The consequences of taking Senator Reid's advice will haunt liberals for decades.
This sociopath is literally listing off stolen merchandise and blaming Democrats for having lousy security. Who's stupid enough to believe this crap? McConnell brags all the time about shifting the courts to the far right for a generation. It's his life's work. If Reid hadn't set off the "procedural avalanche," McConnell would've found some other excuse for dumping the filibuster to confirm his Federalist Society poster boys.
Democrats also like judges -- or we should somehow finally learn to like judges, because even the mildest progressive agenda can stall in the courts. We've seen what Republicans have accomplished without the filibuster. But McConnell argues that Democrats should needlessly hobble our own ambitions for the sanctity of Senate traditions, which he pisses on daily.
The Senate's treasured tradition is not efficiency but deliberation. One of the body's central purposes is making new laws earn broader support than what is required for a bare majority in the House. The legislative filibuster does not appear in the Constitution's text, but it is central to the order the Constitution sets forth. It echoes James Madison's explanation in Federalist 62 that the Senate is designed not to rubber-stamp House bills but to act as an "additional impediment" and "complicated check" on "improper acts of legislation." It embodies Thomas Jefferson's principle that "great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities."
The legislative filibuster is directly downstream from our founding tradition. If that tradition frustrates the whims of those on the far left, it is their half-baked proposals and not the centuries-old wisdom that need retooling.
My Cousin Vinny - Everything That Guy Just Said Is Bullshit. www.youtube.com
McConnell has effectively marginalized Democrats while in the minority and majority. But we can tell he's scared of losing both the White House and Senate. He paints a nightmare scenario of Democrats passing a "laundry list of socialist policies" to "happily inflict on Middle America" (the only America that matters to Republicans). He warns that the Democrats running for president are so far left they make Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards look "downright conservative." Which is funny, because McConnell and most Republicans decried Obama as a socialist as early as 2008. They called Clinton a socialist in 2016. After a while, you stop taking boys who cry "socialist!" seriously.
The GOP's big legislative "win" when it controlled both the House and Senate was to pass a tax scam bill, which did not meet the 60-vote threshold in the Senate. It passed on a party-line 51-48 vote because Republicans worked around Senate rules. This effectively kills the legislative filibuster while technically preserving it. Bernie Sanders has hinted at a similar method for enacting his policies.
I recognize it may seem odd that a Senate majority leader opposes a proposal to increase his own power.
It would only seem odd if we believed McConnell was arguing from a position of strength. He's not. Last week, the forecast for Susan Collins's re-election campaign shifted from "lean Republican" to "cloudy, with a chance of retirement." John Hickenlooper has officially entered the Colorado Senate race and polls already show him creaming Cory Gardner. McConnell has some sleepless nights ahead and that makes us feel good.
Democrats have nothing to fear from outright killing the filibuster. We've already seen the worst Republicans can do with all branches of government. We shouldn't refuse to have nice things because we're afraid Republicans will break in and wreck them. We just need to keep Republicans from power. They are bad actors who'll screw us at every point and laugh about it.
This is why our vote goes to the Democratic candidate who mocks McConnell's desperate pleas the most.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.