In a sense, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already went nuclear. Last year, instead of doing what Senate majority leaders routinely do — and are supposed to do — McConnell refused to allow President Barrack Obama’s nominee for a Supreme Court vacancy be considered. No meetings. No hearings. No vote. Nothing. McConnell stonewalled the nomination.
Why? He claims that it was no big deal. It was a huge deal. He confirmed what we all know., that in the eyes of Mitch McConnell, an appointment to the highest court is not a legal issue but a political one. And it was more important to McConnel to win a political battle than to defend and protect the institutions that make government work, He ripped the lion cloth off the nude painting. It was like saying “Up yours, Mr. President! And up yours too, fellow senators!”
In other words, McConnell’s refusal had nothing to do with whether Obama’s nominee was qualified. It had nothing to do with whether that judge would do a job on the court. It had everything to do with the fact that Obama nominated him. It had everything to do with McConneell seeking partisan political advantage, as he always has done. Remember McConnell was one of the authors of the so-called “scorched earth” strategy to prevent President Obama from succeeding. This was just another example of that strategy – just say no to everything.
So it is not a huge surprise that one year later, democrats now will try to filibuster Donald Trump’s nominee. Not only is that nominee a candidate that they disagree with, they feel that he is being put into a “stolen seat”. And of course, they are right.
Yesterday, we have news that the democratic filibuster has the important support of Senator Claire McKaskill. Her support makes it more likely that the filibuster will hold. The Senate will need 60 votes to confirm Neil Gorsuch, and they are not likely to get those votes.
So McConnell will have to consider using the so-called nuclear option. He may have to change the Senate rules to remove the right to filibuster for this vote. He may take yet one more step to destroying the comity that the Senate has relied upon over the years to get stuff done. If he does it, it will be to get one more political victory for his party.
Will he do it? I think he will. And I think it will be yet another shameful act by McConnell because it takes yet one more step to making the country ungovernable. But for McConnell, partisan politics trumps all else. He has already shown that this is who he is.
Let’s see if I am right.