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The bipartisan fetish


This article lays out the story of how a lawyer who is on the verge of becoming the first-ever Muslim American federal appellate court judge is having his nomination blocked by Democratic senators, who have decided to go along with a transparently absurd Republican smear campaign.

These same three senators have come out publicly to announce that they will not support an eminently qualified nominee of their own party’s president after Republican senators and conservative activists smeared him, first accusing him of being an antisemite, and, when that effort fizzled in the face of staunch support from mainstream Jewish organizations, of being soft on crime and supporting cop killers.

You can look at the details in the article, but basically Adeel Abdullah Mangi is a corporate lawyer who took a pro bono case and won a huge payment for the family of a New York prisoner who was beaten and choked to death by prison guards. The state also agreed to install cameras and microphones throughout the prison, to help make it more difficult for guards to murder prisoners.

So the accusations that he loves Hamas and cop killers are, even by the non-existent standards of Republicans, utterly baseless. So why are Joe Manchin, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Jacky Rosen, agreeing to participate in this spurious GOP attempt to block a Democratic administration’s nomination to a crucial appellate court judgeship?

These allegations are so threadbare that they did not even come up in his confirmation hearing. Republican senators were too busy demanding that Mangi denounce Hamas. They only pivoted when that attempt failed. Democratic senators may wish to appear to have rejected the Islamophobic smears, but it is dismaying that these equally baseless accusations have become a fig leaf for Democrats running for re-election who fear attacks from well-funded far-right judicial activist groups.

The most pathetic thing here is that Cortez Masto and Rosen think that this kind of thing is going to buy them any protection from attacks from the far right money and scream machine, WHICH IS EXACTLY THE SAME THING AS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

OK, that’s not actshully the most pathetic thing here: that prize goes to Joe Manchin, who had previously been very good on judicial nominations, and whose political career is even by his own self-interested calculations over. And yet:

It is Joe Manchin, who is not running for re-election and has no excuse other than his own fetish for performative bipartisanship, who most powerfully illustrates what is most enraging about this whole episode. He is the most extreme illustration of a Democratic tendency to unilaterally disarm in the face of bad faith actions of the Republican Party. It bespeaks a willingness to pretend that an old way of doing politics — the give and take between broadly reasonable, well meaning people — still exists in American politics. This is a fantasy Democrats indulge at their peril.

It’s not 1965 or 1975 or 1985 any more, which is a cognitive trick that even old dog Joe Biden has been mostly taught successfully by the hard school of experience.

But there are some very slow learners out there.

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