In the latest edition of our modern-day Winner Take All Political Sweepstakes, it is not surprising that Senate Democrats have decided to do the contemporary version of cutting off their noses to spit their collective faces. But I don’t think the Neil Gorsuch nomination was the hill Democrats needed to die on.
Less than an hour after Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) voted to NOT allow cloture on the debate over a nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to drop the hammer that had been supplied by his predecessor.
Harry Reid, (pictured, right) the retired Senator from Nevada, may have been the most execrable politician of this generation. Given the amount of excrement that resides inside the beltway, that is a formidable achievement. He laid the foundation four years ago when he used Senate rules to end the filibuster option on all nominees except those for the highest court in the land. His explanation, “it had to be done.” At the time, things seemed right rosy for Democrats. One of theirs was in the White House, and they had called the shots in the Senate for many years.
Reid had operated the upper chamber as his personal fiefdom; refusing to take action on bills; including crucial budget bills—while using the cloak of immunity provided by his position to make slanderous claims about others. He was a malicious coward. I often refer to him as an “alleged pedarist,” owing to his talent for accusing people of felonious activity while on the Senate floor—secure in the knowledge that he would face no repercussions. That his legacy will be largely defined by making his party practically impotent during a crucial point in history is deliciously satisfying.
By nearly every metric, Neil Gorsuch is an eminently-qualified pick for the SCOTUS. And despite all of this, his appointment doesn’t really change the balance on the court. A conservative originalist will replace another conservative originalist. The only objections levied at Gorsuch were hyper-partisan in nature. They were the equivalent of a child calling another a “poopy-head” when they can’t think of a clever retort.
I think that if the Democrats had waited for another nominee to oppose, moderate Republicans would have been less likely to hit the button. Trust me…there are MANY more federal judges out there with a—shall we say—“clearer” record on abortion and other hot-button issues. When the next vacancy opens, Trump will look to one of them. And Democrats’ only hope will be to persuade three Republicans to vote no. They would have stood a MUCH better chance of getting Republicans to join them in a filibuster. Under that scenario, Republicans would have been FAR more reluctant to go nuclear.
But no, their intransigence has left Democrats politically impotent in what could be a crucial 18-month period for the most powerful element of the judicial branch. Will this come back to haunt Republicans? Most certainly. There will be a day when Democrats have power again, no doubt. At least Republicans are not pretend like this won’t ever happen. For the short term, a 52/48 split with a handful of VERY moderate Republican Senators means compromise on key issues is still very much in play.
But in the end, it is altogether fitting and proper that Reid’s legacy, much like Hillary Clinton, will be that of massive arrogance eclipsed only by their massive failure. The same party that spent years reminding us that “Elections have consequences” have suddenly become interested in strengthening the voice of the minority party.