So this is how liberty dies with a hideous, utterly shameless smirk on the face of arguably the most cynical political leader in American history, as the warriors in his political tribe cackle with laughter.
The end came Tuesday in about the most out-of-the-way venue you could imagine: a chamber of commerce luncheon in Paducah, Ky., where Mitch McConnell the 77-year-old son of bluegrass country, now one of America's three most powerful politicians as Senate majority leader was finally asked a question that's long been on people's minds, about how he might handle an unexpected Supreme Court vacancy if one occurs during the 2020 presidential election.
It was in 2016, you surely remember, that Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly and McConnell wouldn't even allow then-President Barack Obama's nominee, a thoroughly decent federal appeals court judge named Merrick Garland, to get a hearing. This wasn't, McConnell insisted at the time, what it looked like denying Obama his constitutional power to fill a vacancy that was never questioned for the 42 (cough, cough ... white) presidents who came before him, and a naked power play to make sure pro-business judges set our laws for the next 40 years.
No, the Senate leader told us, this was about the highest democratic principles, that "[t]he American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," while also claiming political precedents that didn't really exist. Three years later, McConnell is now telling us that the people's voice is only audible when it's Republican voters looking to replace a Democratic POTUS.
"Oh, we'd fill it," McConnell said Tuesday, unable to suppress his laughter that quickly spread through a room of Kentuckians who also see the lighter side of 21st-century neo-fascism. He prattled on for a minute or two about the importance of a permanent wall of judges which, in his words, "cannot be undone." That's just proof of how a U.S. government that fails to enshrine one person, one vote (neither in the electoral college nor the small-state rural dominance of the Senate) can with the aid of McConnell's ruthless realpolitik create a judiciary that will control women's bodies while cramming pro-corporate pablum down the throat of a nation that gives more popular votes to Democrats running for president (6 out of the last 7 times) and for our hopelessly gerrymandered Congress.
McConnell's comment got some news coverage, but not as much as it should have. For one thing, the Senate leader's amoral political cynicism has been barely concealed (if at all) ever since the dawn of the Obama presidency, when he declared the goal of what was once known, years ago, as "the world's greatest deliberative body" was no longer to pass laws but to deny Obama a second term. And a lot of important news gets drowned underneath the Iowa-level flooding that is President Trump's daily barrage of inane tweets and increasingly dictatorial policy pronouncements.
Will Bunch is author of the new "Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future", published by Free Press, which examines the calculated effort by the modern right wing to canonize the 40th president, (more...)