Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has become unmoored from reality–if indeed anyone in contemporary politics can still be said to have any grounding in reality. In an op-ed this morning for Politico, McConnell bemoaned (evidently without irony) the obstructionist tendencies of Senate Democrats.
Since January 2017, for the first time in memory, a minority has exploited procedure to systematically obstruct a president from staffing up his administration. This new, across-the-board obstruction is unfair to the president and, more importantly, to the American people. Left unchecked, it is guaranteed to create an unsustainable precedent that would see every future presidency of either party obstructed in the same mindless way.
McConnell’s points about obstructionism in politics are fair; his righteous idignation is not. If Republicans wanted a credible messenger for the gospel of functioning government, they could hardly have picked a more ridiculous messenger. (Was Ted Cruz unavailable?)
Let’s get serious. For the first time in memory, Mitch? Something tells me Merrick Garland can remember a time when the Senate refused to confirm judicial nominees in a completely candid and wildly successful attempt to obstruct a president’s staffing agenda. Says CNN:
You’ll remember that Garland was then-President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the court created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016….But, Senate Republicans — led by McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley — had previously insisted they would neither meet with Garland nor conduct confirmation hearings for him. The reason? They believed that Obama was too close to leaving office to be permitted to make a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
Then, when Republicans had completed their judicial sleight of hand, McConnell completed his masterpiece:
And then McConnell changed the Senate rules — which had been previously changed by Democratic Leader Harry Reid in 2013 — to allow a simple majority vote to break a filibuster on a Supreme Court nominee. Bada bing, bada boom — Gorsuch is on the court.
In the end, politics is always rooted in the violence of the powerful. We can perhaps be relieved to know that ours is a government of procedural violence rather than martial law–although, I’m not. What is galling this morning is only the sheer tone-deafness, the unabashed hypocrisy of it all. Then again, that’s the melody driving politics right now; why shouldn’t McConnell harmonize?