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    In Praise of Mitch McConnell

    In Praise of Mitch McConnell

    You have to hand it to the guy, he is a proven master tactician in the Senate, both in and out of power.

    Mitch McConnell isn’t the flashiest person on Capitol Hill. To put it mildly.

    Chuck Schumer regularly beats McConnell to the TV cameras, and Nancy Pelosi makes grand pronouncements as if the Senate and McConnell don’t exist.

    He’s been called a lot of names. I don’t even know where “Cocaine Mitch” came from, but its juxtaposition to McConnell’s somewhat dour public personality turns the obvious slur into a term of endearment.

    Certainly, McConnell has been viewed by Republican insurgents as the embodiment of establishment Republicanism, and during the heyday of the Tea Party movement, McConnell was a frequent target.

    But you have to hand it to the guy, he is a proven master tactician in the Senate, both in and out of power.

    On December 22, 2010, I paid tribute to the out-of-power McConnell, In Praise of Mitch McConnell:

    This is not the post you probably were expecting from me given my harsh — and as always prescient — criticism of Republicans in the lame duck session.  I was screaming “capitulation!” before screaming “capitulation!” was fashionable.

    Notwithstanding the lame duck session, give Mitch McConnell some credit for the war which has been fought the past two years.

    When Obama took office, Republicans had been routed in two consecutive elections.  With Democrats having an overwhelming majority in the House, and a near filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, there was not much the Republican leadership could do.

    As I noted before, in my post Some of Our Finest Hours, a variety of players and people fought valiant political battles to slow down the Obama onslaught.  Those battles, particularly over Obamacare, created the landscape which led to victories in 2010.

    But there was only so much McConnell could do….

    Against overwhelming odds in which the defeat of the Obama agenda was not possible, the best that could be hoped for was to get Obama and the Democrats stuck in the mud, to have them advance to places they did not want to be, and to set up the stage for the electoral counterattack.

    I’m not a military historian or tactician, but I do understand the concept of prepping the battlefield.  That is as true in politics as in war.

    For his role in prepping the 2010 political battlefield, for getting Obama and Democrats stuck in the mud of their own creating, and for giving us the possibility of significant gains in the coming years, Mitch McConnell deserves our praise.

    Later in the Obama years, after Republicans regained control of the Senate in 2014, McConnell prepped the landscape for a future (and as yet unnamed) Republican president by keeping down Obama’s judicial appointments.

    Keeping the Scalia seat open despite the nomination of Merrick Garland was perhaps McConnell’s most significant achievement. That single move led to Mr. Justice Gorsuch filling his mentor’s seat and later to Mr. Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

    Those lower court judicial vacancies also allowed McConnell, despite unprecedented obstruction by Democrats in the Senate, to shepherd almost 200 federal court nominees to confirmation. Trump is reshaping the federal judiciary for a generation to come, but it was made possible by Mitch McConnell.

    Nowhere has McConnell’s tactical skill been more apparent than in the Democrats’ impeachment effort. He let the House do its thing, which is right because he’s not the Speaker of the House. Because of his respect for the institution, he showed Pelosi more respect than she ever showed him. McConnell also must have known that left to their own devices Democrats in the House would screw things up in their venomous rush to impeach. And so they did.

    McConnell stood strong in refusing to negotiate Senate trial procedures with Pelosi and in insisting on the Clinton model for Senate trial procedure. That Clinton procedure allowed the House Managers to fill the TV screens for days, but it also allowed Team Trump to make its case.

    And in the end, McConnell kept enough Senate Republicans in line to prevent Adam Schiff and other Democrats from turning the Senate into a circus as they had in the House.

    Whatever criticism one might have about McConnell being an insider and establishment, he got the job done.

    So this is another post in praise of Mitch McConnell.

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    Comments



     
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    Anonamom | February 2, 2020 at 9:17 am

    I’m going to disagree on this one. Nancy Pelosi ramming Obamacare through in the face of public and internal resistance is what a “master tactician” looks like. Dammit.

    Cocaine Mitch? Meh.


       
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      VaGentleman in reply to Anonamom. | February 2, 2020 at 9:35 am

      One could argue that in ramming Obamacare through she put an albatross around the neck of the dem party. If so, does her ramming impeachment through count as a tactical victory or albatross II?

      OTOH, Mitch’s 10yr plan is up to 150+ judges and counting.


         
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        Katy L. Stamper in reply to VaGentleman. | February 2, 2020 at 9:49 am

        Well, Va.G., Obamacare may be an albatross to the dem party, but Americans are still suffering under it.

        So which concern is the greater?

        And the dems are moving gun control in Va., ballot harvesting in California routing the GOP in Orange County, and kindergarten lgbtq training.

        Cultural demolition proceeds apace, and we still have national injunctions against presidential prerogatives….

        Dems are winning.


           
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          VaGentleman in reply to Katy L. Stamper. | February 2, 2020 at 9:57 am

          Katy,
          could you please expand on how “… moving gun control in Va., ballot harvesting in California routing the GOP in Orange County, and kindergarten lgbtq training” are McConnell’s fault?


             
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            Katy L. Stamper in reply to VaGentleman. | February 2, 2020 at 2:46 pm

            It’s a Cultural Thing.

            Dems push everywhere, all the time.

            GOPes roll over everywhere, all the time.


             
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            Katy L. Stamper in reply to VaGentleman. | February 2, 2020 at 2:52 pm

            So, why didn’t McConnell coordinate with Ryan, when Ryan was speaker to impeach the justices responsible for usurpation that was the demolition of our family law and has created the abuse of our kindergarteners?

            Dems impeach for NOTHING. We don’t impeach for gross usurpations.

            Gutlessness, a Homeric virtue in GOP circles.


             
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            VaGentleman in reply to VaGentleman. | February 2, 2020 at 3:29 pm

            Katy,

            I find it hard to believe that Ryan wouldn’t launch an impeachment because McConnell didn’t coordinate with him. I think it more likely that there was no constitutional basis for an impeachment.


             
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            Milhouse in reply to VaGentleman. | February 2, 2020 at 5:32 pm

            Impeaching judges without their having committed a crime is a non-starter. Certainly impeaching them because you don’t like their decisions on the bench is something that has never been attempted since the impeachment of Samuel Chase went down in flames.


             
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            Katy L. Stamper in reply to VaGentleman. | February 2, 2020 at 5:56 pm

            Va. G., if destroying our country by undermining THE MOST BASIC institution isn’t grounds for impeachment, then impeachment is as useless as Th. Jefferson bemoaned almost exactly 200 years ago.

            If it be construed as a suicide pact, I’m OUT.


             
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            VaGentleman in reply to VaGentleman. | February 2, 2020 at 8:54 pm

            Katy,

            What is this “MOST BASIC institution” in your mind? How was it destroyed?


           
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          Milhouse in reply to Katy L. Stamper. | February 2, 2020 at 7:34 pm

          You’re stamping all over the concept of an independent judiciary. Judges, when fulfilling their judicial function, cannot be subject to removal simply because the congress doesn’t like their decisions. Congress has the power to remove judges only for misbehavior. Making the “wrong” decision cannot be misbehavior, because it’s the judiciary’s role to decide what is the right decision.


       
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      Milhouse in reply to Anonamom. | February 2, 2020 at 5:28 pm

      The House is a very different place than the Senate. Harry Reid with 60 senators got the first draft of 0bamacare through, but as soon as he had only 59 he was stuck.


     
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    Tom Servo | February 2, 2020 at 9:21 am

    I am always surprised that many people don’t realize that recess appointments, especially late in an election cycle, are essentially worthless. What kind of loyalty is a recess appointee going to get in his department when everyone there knows he’e going to be automatically fired in less than a year? It’s the Substitute Teacher problem in spades.

    Trump’s already found a way around that, anyway, one that is much much stronger than any recess appointment could be. Example: See how Ken Cuccinelli became Principal Director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.


       
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      stablesort in reply to Tom Servo. | February 2, 2020 at 10:01 am

      Recess appointments allow the President to replace a disloyal appointee. This is especially important when there are holdovers working against the administration.

      To clarify, sometimes the President has to fire somebody, but the Senate will only confirm somebody just as bad or even worse. In cases like this, the recess appointee can take over a department and gut it to prevent that department from doing harm.

      The NSC is a perfect example.


     
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    Katy L. Stamper | February 2, 2020 at 9:34 am

    Whenever a Tea Party kind of candidate has run in a primary, McConnell has worked hard to eliminate them. I could be recalling incorrectly, but I believe he worked against Roy Moore also in the primary.

    Roy Moore respects the Constitution and he MEANS it. McConnell works against anyone who does.

    So great, he had a majority and managed not to grab defeat from the jaws of victory.

    When he starts supporting, rather than undermining, candidates for Senate who truly respect the Constitution – including not allowing SCOTUS to ramrod every manner of civilization-destroying pet theories they have, down our throats, I’ll applaud him. Not one minute before.

    Thanks to Obergfell (sp??) etc., we now have Drag Queen story hours for children, and many states pushing kindergarten sex education which is code for lbtqxxxxx indoctrination.

    When you have mentally troubled people paraded around as though they are NORMAL to our youngest children, you have all the proof you need that the swamp doesn’t give one hot damn about Americans. People like Roy Moore would move heaven and earth in the Senate to restore American’s rights.

    Don’t talk to me about McConnell. I have as much respect for him as I do a pile of leaves in my yard.


       
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      txvet2 in reply to Katy L. Stamper. | February 2, 2020 at 1:02 pm

      I hate to disillusion you, but both McConnell and Trump endorsed Strange in Alabama.


         
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        Katy L. Stamper in reply to txvet2. | February 2, 2020 at 3:05 pm

        Dear TxVet,

        Pres. Trump has a habit I’ve never named, but I’ll call it “slimming.” To get through a crowd I walk sideways, with my shoulder first; let’s me get through more easily and use narrow spaces.

        But he uses it to reduce drag in general. Or perhaps I should call it getting rid of ballast. Regardless, it appears if he thinks something is introduce drag, he either declines to adopt it or jettisons it. With the media against him, he can only present so large a target area and still succeed, so he reduces it. I don’t always like how he reduces it, but I understand he can only carry so much. Everyone is against him, except voters.

        He’s a disruptor, he’s got damn few allies in power, so he makes these decisions. The ones I dislike the most are the illegal alien ones and related, like we still have birthright citizenship, but he’s clearly made a decision challenging it headon would introduce too much drag and too many attacks – so he’s tossed it. For how long, who knows? Etc., etc.

        McConnell is just GOPe. He tosses things he detests, which is mostly what would benefit most Americans. 140 languages taught in your school. Too bad. Your taxes are for his pet projects.


       
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      Milhouse in reply to Katy L. Stamper. | February 2, 2020 at 5:34 pm

      Roy Moore respects the constitution?! ROFL.


       
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      4rdm2 in reply to Katy L. Stamper. | February 3, 2020 at 6:43 am

      And as much as you may hate it, as ‘unfair’ as it may be, how much better off would we have been in several close votes if Doug Jones was replaced with Luther Strange?


     
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    Katy L. Stamper | February 2, 2020 at 9:39 am

    And OT a little, speaking of Gorsuch, (IIRC) in one of his first opinions on illegal aliens, he wrote like a true ivory tower academic, stating to the effect that a law proving that violent crime would mean deportation was too vague.

    Would someone please name a Border Patrol officer to SCOTUS?! Someone that has some real world experience and not all these academics. Those in academia 100 years ago would have much more real world experience, now not so much.

    We need to face that when making nominations.


       
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      Milhouse in reply to Katy L. Stamper. | February 2, 2020 at 5:41 pm

      The law was vague. There is no fixed definition of “crime of violence”. It can mean whatever you like. And that makes it unconstitutional to punish someone for it.

      To quote Gorsuch: “the Immigration and Nationality Act requires a judge to determine that the ordinary case of the alien’s crime of conviction involves a substantial risk that physical force may be used. But what does that mean? Just take the crime at issue in this case, California burglary, which applies to everyone from armed home intruders to door-to-door salesmen peddling shady products. How, on that vast spectrum, is anyone supposed to locate the ordinary case and say whether it includes a substantial risk of physical force? The truth is, no one knows. The law’s silence leaves judges to their intuitions and the people to their fate. In my judgment, the Constitution demands more.” How can you argue with that? What part of it is not completely obvious?

      You seem to be someone who doesn’t give a sh*t about justice or the constitution, and want courts to judge cases based on the result desired. That is precisely what judges have no right to do.


         
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        Katy L. Stamper in reply to Milhouse. | February 2, 2020 at 6:01 pm

        Gulliver, Gulliver, tie yourself down RIGHT NOW!

        I DEMAND IT!!

        Sincerely,
        Your 860 judicial Lilliputians!


         
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        Katy L. Stamper in reply to Milhouse. | February 2, 2020 at 6:03 pm

        And, it’s what they do every day of the week, and especially on Mondays. Unless it’s the 9th, or those folks in Hawaii, in which case, being Trump’s alter ego shadow, always about 48 hours after he does something.


         
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        Katy L. Stamper in reply to Milhouse. | February 2, 2020 at 6:04 pm

        And Milhouse is like Gorsuch. “Crime of VIOLENCE” has no meaning to him, and like Alice in Wonderland, words… words are infinitely elastic…

        But of course!


           
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          Milhouse in reply to Katy L. Stamper. | February 2, 2020 at 7:39 pm

          It has no meaning to ANYBODY. Can you say whether “the ordinary case” of California burglary “involves a substantial risk that physical force may be used”? No, you can’t. It’s impossible for anybody to say. No two judges can be relied on to make the same determination, and the criminal himself has no hope at all of making the same determination as the judge he will end up in front of. And that makes it evil and wicked, not to mention brazenly unconstitutional, to make the penalty depend on such an impossible determination.


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