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It’s Not That They Don’t Know, It’s That They Don’t Care

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, from left, Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Supreme Court associate justice nominee for U.S. President Donald Trump, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, stand during a meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Senate Republicans are pledging a swift confirmation process that would put Kavanaugh on the bench before the new term opens Oct. 1, and there is little Democrats can do to stop them. Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Pool via Bloomberg

Murc’s Law-based arguments that there’s always some magical MESSAGING trick that could force Republican majorities to capitulate to Democratic minorities are almost always terrible for obvious reasons. But they’re particularly farcical when applied to the Kavanaugh confirmation. The very obvious problem with arguments that Democrats failed to CONTROL THE NARRATIVE or ask the POINTED FOLLOW-UP QUESTION that would turn the public against Kavanaugh is that, in fact, the public turned against Kavanaugh to an unprecedented extent for a Supreme Court nominee:

Forty-nine Senate Republicans and one Democrat just confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the United State Supreme Court. No allegations, no protesters, no public opinion poll showing Brett Kavanaugh is the most unpopular person to be elevated to the nation’s highest court in recent history was going to stop them.

To the senators who confirmed him, it did not matter that Christine Blasey Ford testified for four hours under oath and told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she was “100 percent” certain Brett Kavanaugh was the boy who pulled her into a room at a high school party 36 years ago and tried to force himself on her. It did not matter that Kavanaugh appeared to, at best, mislead senators in his own testimony. It did not matter that, unlike Clarance Thomas who also faced allegations of sexual misconduct, the public thought Kavanaugh’s accuser was more credible than he was.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) framed the Senate’s decision simply, days before the final vote: “It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed.”

The Senate has answered definitively: We do not believe her, not really, and we don’t care that the public does.

This is the governing ideology of the Republican Party: We don’t care what anybody else thinks. We have the power. We have the will. We have the votes. We’ll do what we want.

In politics, there’s winning the argument, and there’s winning the vote. Republicans lost the argument, but they ultimately had the votes.

Contrary to the debate-society theory of politics, Republican wins aren’t based on winning arguments. The Kavanaugh, ACA repeal, the tax cut — all rank in popularity somewhere between “Captain Morgan Gold” and “cancer of the rectum.” Popular opposition, asinine zero-dimensional checkers arguments that actually Republicans winning elections is no big deal because they will mobilize opposition notwithstanding, ultimately cannot deter congressional majorities from doing stuff they really want to do. Even the greatest victory of resistance to Trump — defeat of ACA repeal in the Senate — was contingent on the vote of a dying man who seemed much more motivated by idiosyncratic issues with party leadership than with by popular opposition to the bill. Republicans think power is something to be exercised — and in that they’re not even wrong.

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