With Mitch McConnell, You Can Never Be Cynical Enough

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We haven’t had much to say about the grinding inevitability of Neil Gorsuch, other than to argue that the doomed filibuster was the right thing to do. We should never forget that Mitch&co (especially the sanctimonious Orrin Hatch), nullified the 2012 election while speaking self-righteously about preserving voter rights to determine a Supreme Court justice. It was nauseating, and could be seen as a death-blow to democracy.

The Gorsuch hearings have been an exercise in craven cynicism, with Republicans outraged that Dems even dare question Neil Gorsuch, as if he floated down from Judicial Heaven, untouched be petty partisan politics, and not been someone involved in the far-right since he was born. And they were even more cynically outraged that the Democrats might dare try to question Presidential prerogative. It was as if they all knew that they had no case, but if they shouted loudly enough with enough constitutional offense warbling their vocal cords we would forget how laughable it was.

This wasn’t hard to predict. In fact, right after the election, the Times ran a ludicrous story titled “Hard Choice For Mitch McConnell: End the Filibuster or Preserve Tradition”.

We said then:

Let me answer that for you: he’s going to end the filibuster.

The Times describes him as someone who believes strongly in traditions, somehow managing to reconcile that with his immediately blocking the President’s right to choose a Supreme Court justice, and also the completely unprecedented obstruction of Barack Obama’s entire Presidency. It also talks about how he was dismayed at Reid dismantling the judicial filibuster after their (again) unprecedented obstructions, as if it was a matter of principle, and not, say, petulance at not being able to continue their (again) unprecedented obstruction of the President’s rights.

So yeah, I think there is going to be one filibuster of bill or maybe when Trump nominates Michele Bachmann for the Supreme Court, and Mitch will appear on TV, and say that it with sadness that he has to do this, but the Democrats have no respect for Presidential prerogative, and are ignoring “President Trump’s overwhelming victory, and the will of the American people” (never mind that Trump lost that metric). And then the filibuster will be gone, and the media will say “well, the Democrats should have reached across the aisle!”

And again: all this was easy to predict, which is what makes it even more depressing. Still, I was wrong about one thing. I thought Mitch would do fake sadness, and not fake anger. I wasn’t cynical enough. Here’s what he actually said.

“This is the latest escalation in the left’s never-ending judicial war, the most audacious yet,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said after describing Democratic opposition in the past to Judge Robert H. Bork and Justice Clarence Thomas. “And it cannot and it will not stand. There cannot be two sets of standards: one for the nominees of the Democratic president and another for the nominee of a Republican president.”

What are you supposed to do? How do you respond to that? It’s impossible. You’re left sputtering, and somehow you look like you’re on an equal level of childishness. It’s insane, and it is what is running the country.

Although I admit I may have misspoke when I said that he was faking anger. I think their cognitive dissonance is so fine-tuned that they actually believe that a foredoomed filibuster is somehow an escalation over not even meeting with the nominee, much less giving him a hearing. Like the kid on The Simpson’s who doesn’t know if he is being sarcastic anymore, they don’t know if they are legitmately angry or just a mobious strip o cynicism.

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Zika, Planned Parenthood, and the Escherian Cynicism of Mitch McConnell

 

“V” Is For Whatever I’m Told It Is For Today

 

Mitch McConnell might be the purest, most craven politician working today, a man with nearly zero principles other than power. Chris Christie’s speech was one of the more dishonest pieces of political theater you’ll see, but Mitch’s was pure nonsense politics. He illustrated perfectly the reasons why most people detest everything that has to do with politics.

For Mitch, that’s not a bug: the whole point is to make sure that people despise the government, and don’t want to get involved, and see it as a waste of time. That way he can do the only thing that really animates him: accumulating power so that he can siphon it off to the wealthy.

If that sounds like an exaggeration, don’t forget the tapes of his meeting with the Kochs and other billionaire donors, wherein he basically promised them the store. That made when he said last night that “More than anything though my job has taught me the value of trust. How to distinguish between people who are in this to serve others, and people who are in it for themselves.” the most honest line of the night. Mitch is in this to serve others: just not, you know, anyone who doesn’t use an ivory pen to write a 7-figure ivory check.

(All quotes come from Time transcript)

The rest of the speech was unbearably cynical, and in increasingly twisted and frustrating ways. To wit:

Two years ago voters delivered a clear verdict on the Obama years by sending a freshman class of rock-star Republicans to the Senate, and delivering us a majority that I promise to make you proud of. We never hesitate to confront the President, but we also do the hard work of tackling urgent problems head on. And, we delivered on that promise.

Oh cool: tackling huge issues like inequality, the environment? Well, that’s silly. And unfair. You weren’t elected for that. So: jobs, national security, borders?

We put Obamacare repeal on the President’s desk, he vetoed it. Donald Trump would sign it.

Oh- well, that’s not really urgent, is it?

We passed a bill to finally build a Keystone Pipeline, Obama vetoed it. Donald Trump would sign it.

That’s…not at all urgent either, even if you think “energy independence” is the most important thing in the world, and that the only way to get it is more oil. Keystone wouldn’t have helped at all. And if you thought it was about jobs, why not pass a jobs bill?

We passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, Obama vetoed it. Donald Trump would sign it.

That’s like the least urgent problem in America. You would have to define “access to health care for poor women” as an urgent problem for that to qualify. You people…

And finally: here’s the most urgent problem they were elected to solve!

And, on that sad day when we lost Justice Scalia, I made another pledge that Obama would not fill his seat. That honor will go to Donald Trump next year.

“I swore I’d nullify an election and refuse to do my job. Leadership.”

Ah, but that wasn’t even the worst part. Here’s the part that leaves you in a sputtering rage, impossibly angry at the sheer inhuman smarm and transparently dishonest posturing that makes politics unbearable.

So, my friends, keep the Senate in Republican hands and we’ll continue this work and the remarkable public servants that I’m proud to lead in the Senate will not let you down. But, put Hillary Clinton in the White House and I promise you this, she will double down on the cynical approach that Senate Democrats seem to revel in these days.

Here’s what I mean. As we sit here tonight, a terrifying mosquito born illness threatens expectant mothers and their babies along our southern coast. And, just last week, just last week, Clinton Democrats in the Senate blocked a bill aimed at eradicating that virus before it can spread.

See…the GOP fought against any Zika funding for months, before realizing a tactic which was to tie Zika funding to Planned Parenthood (and a host of other barely-related weakening of environmental laws). The bill would limit funding for Planned Parenthood, even though Zika was largely a sexually-transmitted disease, and PP was best-equipped to help people. They did this knowing that Democrats wouldn’t support it, because it was one of those bills that did way more harm than good. This is not a matter of debate. They never had any interest in funding Zika defense until someone came up with a way to make it seem like Democrats didn’t care about it. There was no reason to bring up Planned Parenthood, which experts agree was in the best position to help in the fight against the weird and terrifying disease, except that A) saying Planned Parenthood riles up the base, and B) it can make Dems look bad.

To an extent, that’s normal politics: poison pills and whatnot. It is monstrous, but not caring about human lives is par for the GOP course. That’s not fine, but it’s the baseline of where we are at. What is amazing, and what makes Mitch who he is, is to rail about the “cynical approach” of the “Clinton Democrats”.

What can you do? What can you do except sputter at the brazenness, the stone-faced dishonesty? You can point out that he knows his position was such bullshit he couldn’t even fully explain it. You can argue, and say how him saying the Dems are cynical while describing his cynical ploy is the most cynical thing of all, but then you are just haggling about who is worse, and that’s how they win. Because then everyone is sniveling and cynical and craven. That’s exactly what the GOP wants: people to despise the government, treat it as an enemy, and ignore it except when they are angry at it because “Washington is broken”.  That’s how they win elections. That’s how they “continue the work” of making sure that government does nothing except monitor ovaries and bomb foriegners. That’s the whole goddamn platform.

And don’t forget, he was booed because he’s seen as not confrontational enough. That’s the party now.