• Tue. Oct 20th, 2020

Sunday Night Owls. Mayer: Mitch moves his own strings, and he'll dump anybody to preserve his power

ByAdiantku

Sep 21, 2020

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week

At The New Yorker, Jane Mayer writes—For Mitch McConnell, Keeping His Senate Majority Matters More Than the Supreme Court:

As the Democrats weigh their options about how to stop Mitch McConnell from filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat, one tactic that they should forget about immediately is arguing that it would be hypocritical of McConnell to jam in a new Justice so close to an election. Obviously, it nakedly is, given that Ginsburg died forty-five days before the 2020 election, and this was McConnell’s rationale for blocking Barack Obama’s nominee two hundred and sixty-nine days before the 2016 election. But anyone familiar with the Republican senator from Kentucky’s long political career knows he couldn’t care less about hypocrisy; like President Trump, he is immune to shame.

“McConnell will do anything that serves his interests. We know that,” Norman Ornstein told me, shortly after learning of Ginsburg’s death. Ornstein, a political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute whose expertise is Congress, has known every Senate Majority Leader during the past fifty years—including McConnell, quite well. The question now, though, is how McConnell will define his self-interest.

As I reported in April, behind closed doors McConnell has been raising money from big conservative donors for months by promising that no matter how close it might be to the election, he would install Trump’s Supreme Court pick. As a former Trump White House official told me, “McConnell’s been telling our donors that when R.B.G. meets her reward, even if it’s October, we’re getting our judge. He’s saying it’s our October surprise.”

But now that the moment is here, the calculation isn’t quite so simple. On Friday night, McConnell released a statement vowing that a Trump nominee “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.” While McConnell’s obstruction of Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, made him the bane of liberals, he has regarded it with pride as the single “most important decision I’ve made in my political career.” He and many others believe it handed Trump his victory by motivating the politically powerful evangelical bloc to vote for Trump, despite their doubts about him, because he promised to fill the Court vacancy with a social conservative. It’s entirely possible that the same scenario will play out again this November, with Trump and McConnell offering another enticing gift to evangelicals.

But McConnell is also what Ornstein calls “a ruthless pragmatist,” whose No. 1 goal has always been to remain Majority Leader of the Senate. He’s made the conservative makeover of the federal court system his pet project, but if he faces a choice between another right-wing Justice or keeping his control of the Senate, no one who knows him well thinks he’d hesitate for a moment to do whatever is necessary to stay in power. […]

TOP COMMENTS

QUOTATION

“Each generation doubtless feels called upon to reform the world. Mine knows that it will not reform it, but its task is perhaps even greater. It consists in preventing the world from destroying itself. Heir to a corrupt history, in which are mingled fallen revolutions, technology gone mad, dead gods, and worn-out ideologies, where mediocre powers can destroy all yet no longer know how to convince, where intelligence has debased itself to become the servant of hatred and oppression, this generation starting from its own negations has had to re-establish, both within and without, a little of that which constitutes the dignity of life and death.” ~~Albert Camus, Nobel acceptance speech, Dec. 10, 1957

TWEET OF THE DAY

Donald Trump has appointed 53 appeals court judges in his first term. Not one is black.

— Brett Pransky (@BrettPransky) September 19, 2020

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2009—Pentagon Seeks to Force Obama’s Hand:

The generals are impatient with the White House. General Stanley McChrystal, who took over command of U.S. and NATO troops there in June, passed his strategic assessment seeking more resources and troops up the chain of authority to President Obama on August 30. He and Central Command General David Petraeus want a quick decision from their commander-in-chief. So far, Obama has been unwilling to give them one. Indeed, he said in an interview with CNN’s John King on Sunday:

“I don’t want to put the resource question before the strategy question. … Because there is a natural inclination to say, if I get more, then I can do more. But right now, the question is, the first question is, are we doing the right thing? Are we pursuing the right strategy?”

That point of view, which is not a new one with the President, may well be what sparked a decision by someone at the Pentagon to release a 66-page unclassified version of McChrystal’s assessment to Bob Woodward at The Washington Post. Headlined McChrystal: More Forces or ‘Mission Failure’, the unclassified assessment does not include anything on exactly how many more troops, but previous reports have said it offers three risk-scenarios ranging from 10,000 to 45,000. Whatever the ultimate number, McChrystal stated in the assessment that the next 12 months is crucial. Without those added resources, according to him, the insurgency may become unbeatable. […]

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