I hate when this happens. I’ve been obsessing over this for like, 20 hours now, it even woke me up at 2:30 this morning. But when you spend as much time watching this shit as closely as I do, you can almost sense when something is up, just by what people do, and don’t do. And it looks to me like the Brett Kavanaugh nomination is in deep doo-doo. I say this because, for starters
Cavanaugh’s support seems to be waning — Brett Kavanaugh has spent the last two days bunkered down in the west wing, and the EEOB, phone banking GOP Senators, yet he hasn’t spoken directly with Trump, even though Trump has been right down the hall in the Oval Office. This is strange, since Trump will normally invite the roto-rooter in for a half an hour so he can brag about how the toilet is clogged because he has the largest, most beautiful turds anybody has ever seen, many people have told him that. But apparently he doesn’t want to “bother” Kavanaugh.
The fact that Kavanaugh is phone banking is also bad news, because normally, it would be more effective for Kavanaugh to jump into a Suburban with White House counsel Don McGahn, and go reassure shaky Senators face to face. The fact that Kavanaugh is burning up the phone lines means that either a) Kavanaugh isn’t convincing enough to look Senators in the eye to make his denials, or b) GOP Senators don’t want to be physically seen with Kavanaugh, so they can avoid press questions later.
No matter how you slice it, the fact that Kavanaugh has to hit the phones at all at this late stage is not good news, especially since it seems that
McConnell doesn’t have the votes — The way this is playing out is completely uncharacteristic for Mitch McConnell. Yertl the Turtle is not a back slappy, jovial kind of guy, he’s results oriented. Genghis Khan didn’t care if the natives liked him, as long as he got what he came for. McConnell never lost his smarmy, smug, “I got yo’ ass” smile for the whole 400+ days that he obstructed Merrick Garland. The way I see it, Mitch McConnell is -3 in the whip count right now. I say that because apparently
McConnell has lost Jeff Flake — That’s the real reason for the delay in the Judiciary committee vote. If Jeff Flake was just making “Who’s a tough guy?” noises, only to toe the GOP line in the vote with some lame ass excuse, McConnell would have Chuck Grassley hold the committee vote tomorrow, and the hell with Professor Ford and her accusation. McConnell isn’t interested in niceties here, he wants to ram this through. Flake doesn’t even have to vote against Kavanaugh, if he simply abstains from voting, that forces a 10-10 tie, which fails to move Kavanaugh to the floor. But it isn’t just Flake, this means that
McConnell has lost Collins and Murkowski too — If Flake was the only pain in McConnell’s ass, he couldn’t care less. McConnell would have Grassley hold the vote, and then just totally disregard the result, and bring Kavanaugh’s nomination to the floor for a confirmation vote, knowing that even if he lost Flake, Mike Pence would be in the wings to cast the tie breaking vote. And it can’t be just one of them, because if it was, if Flake buckled and voted to advance Kavanaugh, the loss of only one of them would still mean a tie that Pence could break. The loss of both of them is an existential problem for McConnell since they have tag teamed him in the past to sink his health care repeal votes. And losing these three Senators, or any combination equaling two, is a nightmare scenario for McConnell because
McConnell has no leverage over them — It’s true. Jeff Flake is bulletproof, he’s going to be a civilian in January. Trump has trashed Flake mercilessly, and if Jeff Flake decides that
Brett Kavanaugh is the pound of flesh that he wants to extract from Trump in revenge, there is nothing that McConnell has that he can either bribe of threaten Flake with. The best he can get with a floor vote is a tie for Pence to break, and the optics of that are terrible.
And McConnell is in no better shape with Murkowski and Collins. Both have long said that their votes on a SCOTUS nominee depend on his or her oath that Roe v Wade is settled case law, and won’t be overturned. Both Collins and Murkowski have made this a red line in the eyes of their constituents, and the exposure of Kavanaugh’s writing calling into question the sanctity of Roe v Wade during the hearings raises questions as to the value of his word. Add to that the fact that Collins has expressed doubts about the truthfulness of some of Kavanaugh’s answers to the committee, both in this hearing, as well as in past hearings, and the fact that Murkowski has been getting an earful from her indigenous constituents about Kavanaugh’s rather cavalier attitude about them, and Kavanaugh is a hard sell for both of them.
While Murkowski has been rather coy on the subject of Kavanaugh, Collins has let her hand show a bit on her feelings towards Kavanaugh, by laying a marker down to McConnell demanding that Dr Ford be heard before any vote is held. Whether she will stay firm on the delay while an FBI investigation is conducted is unknown. But it’s all bad news for McConnell because
McConnell gets weaker every day — McConnell didn’t want Brett Kavanaugh to be the nominee in the first place, and this is why. The whole plan on rushing this SCOTUS nomination through was to put pressure on vulnerable red state Democrats like Manchin, Heitkamp, Donnelly, and McKaskill to either vote for Kavanaugh to add a bipartisan flavor to his confirmation, or risk their seats in November. This discord in the GOP caucus makes it much easier for them to stand tall, and keep the Democratic caucus united in opposition to Kavanaugh.
And this process is weakening Brett Kavanaugh as well. National polling already showed that Kavanaugh was underwater as far as confirmation was concerned. As long as Dr Ford’s allegations are seen as credible, that will only weaken support for Kavanaugh more. And if any reporting during this delay and controversy tends to bolster Ford’s allegations, then even GOP Senators up for reelection in 2020 may have to start reconsidering their support for Kavanaugh if their constituents start responding negatively.
Usually, it’s the Democrats that have the nasty habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. It’s nice to see the shoe on the other foot once in a while. The Democrats burned Trump on what appeared like the lost cause of the repeal of the ACA, and they’re on the cusp of doing it again.The stakes couldn’t be higher for Trump and McConnell, for two reasons. First, if Kavanaugh fails, especially if this drags on, there is no way for McConnell to get another nominee voted on before the midterm elections. With his tactical decision to endorse having Dr Ford heard, Trump has undercut McConnell from being able to steamroll a vote without a hearing. And two, if Kavanaugh fails, it could have a disastrous effect on the GOP in November, even in the Senate. Kavanaugh was Trump’s “golden boy,” if he falls, it may well shake evangelicals confidence that Trump can get another, less favored candidate through. Rather than fire up the base to turn out in November to “save the Senate,” it could depress their enthusiasm instead. Hell hath no fury like a bible thumper scorned. Don’t touch that dial.
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