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I’m Beginning to Think Mitch McConnell is Not Motivated By A Principled Adherence to Norms

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You almost have to appreciate the fact that he’s willing to admit his pretexts for keeping Scalia’s seat open were bullshit before he even knows if he had to:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday if a Supreme Court vacancy occurs during next year’s presidential election, he would work to confirm a nominee appointed by President Donald Trump. That’s a move that is in sharp contrast to his decision to block President Barack Obama’s nominee to the high court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. At the time, he cited the right of the voters in the presidential election to decide whether a Democrat or a Republican would fill that opening, a move that infuriated Democrats. Speaking at a Paducah Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Kentucky, McConnell was asked by an attendee, “Should a Supreme Court justice die next year, what will your position be on filling that spot?”

The leader took a long sip of what appeared to be iced tea before announcing with a smile, “Oh, we’d fill it,” triggering loud laughter from the audience.

The thing about McConnell is that there’s never been the slightest doubt about what he is. And yet Senate Dems still adhered to norms that had no chance of surviving the next GOP Senate/White House exacta, making the Trumpification of the courts worse than it had to be while getting nothing in return. And there are amazingly still people who will insist that McConnell would have had to confirm a Supreme Court nominee and make the median vote of the Court a liberal if Clinton had won. McConnell’s evil genius is precisely is that consistently recognizing you don’t “have” to do anything contrary to your interest if the only constraint is an informal norm. And yet no matter how transparent and shameless he is, there always seem to be Dems who will find some reason to believe. Even worse, one of the true believers could well be the Dem nominee in 2020.

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