U.S. Politics and Culture

Tag: Mitch McConnell

Filling the Hot Seat

Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death last night was announced as many were beginning the long chain of feasts and fasts called the Jewish High Holidays. It made for a bittersweet experience, normally reserved for Passover.  At dinner, there was a couple about to marry, a hostess who has been indomitable through all the difficulties life has flung at her, and a senior couple who have weathered the storms of distance and intimacy over the long span of their lives, yet remain standing.

The grim news started popping on unsilenced iPhones. Several people experienced the stomach-tightening dread  of 2016.  The dinner proceeded under that pall, as thick in its way as the skies of the West Coast, now shrouded by the ash and smoke of uncontrollable wild fires. The celebrants shared memories and plans, and repeatedly circled back to the loss of RBG, at times only in silent reflection.

The dark cloud now enveloping our nation’s skies may yet give way to sunlight. Sadness gave way to anger and defiance. Moscow Mitch McConnell laced his statement of condolence with the assurance that he will force a vote for the still-warm seat of the deceased jurist, to be filled with an ass of Donald Trump’s choosing. McConnell is too besotted with his power to resist a chance to turn the High Court into an extended MAGA rally.

There is a good chance, though, that enough GOP senators (four is the minimum necessary) will fend off a vote that would carry a nomination.  The potential failure probably won’t deter Trump from trying to bludgeon his way to a clear conservative majority on the Court. On the other hand, McConnell may have a tougher choice to make, and he has shown the ability to take controversial steps if they are politically opportune. It’s unclear so far if his opportunism and Trump’s run on parallel tracks.

Trump thinks only about Trump and McConnell about McConnell, but their agendas may not overlap. Trump has nothing to lose by going full bore, but McConnell has some risk for himself and his Senate majority.  Several Senate races – in Arizona, Colorado, his own Kentucky seat, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, and South Carolina. – are up for grabs.  Both parties have reason to believe that the battle over the Supreme Court will energize their voters.  It’s not clear if any of the vulnerable Senate incumbents fear that  by deferring to McConnell, they will hurt their individual chances in November.  For that matter, it’s clear that some voters don’t understand what’s going on.  For example, on learning of Ginsburg’s death one  Gen Z college graduate was overhead saying, “She was like a congressman, right?”

As the hours rolled on, the defiance began waxing and the sadness waning. A 6-3 right-wing majority in the Supreme Court will guarantee national regression on the federal protection on women’s reproductive rights. It would lock in a safe haven for unlimited, anonymous campaign investment, The restoration of the voting rights protections lifted by the Court in 2006 would be a nonstarter.

There is no time for grieving. Hand-wringing or defiance – the Democrats have to choose if they will fight as viciously as their Republican opponents.  A lackluster fight will cause a knee on the Democratic body politic to buckle.

The Democrats are a shaky coalition of progressives,, moderates and overlapping racial, sexual and regional interests, whose simmering conflicts have been subdued momentarily in favor of a united effort to win the White House — with the understanding that their intramural brawl will resume promptly afterward.

© Revolted Colonies 2020

“Russia, are your listening?”

Maverick: The Legend of John McCain

  John McCain is the most unusual political character of our time, President company excluded. He has been a conscientious conservative, a rank-and-file Republican, an across-the-aisle kind of bipartisan, and a zombie presidential candidate. McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, withstanding five horrendous years in captivity. He is a genuine hero and an American legend.   This week, after receiving the awful news that he has a fatal brain tumor, he boarded a plane and returned to Washington, D.C., to play assassin to the Republicans’ calamitous effort to unravel the Affordable Care Act. McCain again played the hero in preventing his beloved Senate from shooting itself in the head.  

 McCain is one of the few big-name politicians who keeps things interesting by keeping us on our toes. His willingness to buck party leadership earned him the nickname, “Maverick,” a sobriquet he embraced.  His political story will be an interesting one to tell. Unquestionably, he is a hawk and a fiscal conservative. He also believes in  tolerance and respect for the beliefs of others.  Nevertheless, he caucuses with many politicians who do not.  One of his signature moments occurred in the late days of his unsuccessful 2008 Presidential campaign.  When an ignoramus called Obama an Arab during a town hall event, McCain quickly reclaimed the microphone and extolled his opponent’s decency.  Yet this is the same man who put an obviously unqualified Sarah Palin on his ticket – one long, lingering look from the Bering Strait and  a single heartbeat from the Presidency.  McCain is the person responsible for letting loose the hounds of nativist amateurism on Presidential politics.

After losing the 2008 race and despite his civility toward Candidate Obama, McCain became a constant critic of the President.  In 2012, McCain won a tough race for a sixth term in the Senate, He made the repeal and replacement of Obamacare a prominent plank in his platform.

McCain is the son of a soldiering family, one of whose members fought alongside George Washington.   An Annapolis graduate, he served as a navy pilot in Vietnam.  After his plane was shot down, he was a long-term guest at the Hanoi Hilton, As a high value POW, he had a chance to be released, but he wouldn’t trade on the status  of his Admiral father. He refused preferential treatment.  After five years of physical and mental torture, solitary confinement and abuse that eventually broke him, he was released in 1973. This is the man belittled by Candidate Trump, who prefers his heroes not to be captured.  

McCain held his water, though.  He would never have been a Trump supporter in any normal time but the 2016  election was anything but normal. He threw his support beyond the military school brat who kicked dirt on his reputation, while the only thing to capture the Hypocrite-in-Chief was an Access Hollywood microphone.  

Two weeks ago, McCain flew home to Arizona to have eye surgery, during which it was discovered that he has an inoperable brain tumor, the same type of cancer that killed Ted Kennedy.  The Senate faced the threshold vote on its healthcare bill, a bill so bad it was kept out of sight for as long as possible.  With two certain GOP defections (Collins, Murkowski), an absence by McCain would have doomed the opening gambit, called a motion to proceed.  Earlier this week, McCain returned to the Capitol, struggling physically but resolute to attend the roll call.  McCain joined his party’s vote, ensuring that debate on a bill would take place.  However, Majority Leader McConnell struggled to find common ground between his party’s conservative and alt-right factions.  Two proposals failed to garner enough votes.  On Thursday night, he called for a vote on the so-called skinny repeal, a rollback of Obamacare so marginal that it was only a placeholder to get into a conference with the House over its own odious bill.

When called to vote on the skinny repeal – no replacement, McCain voted no.  He remained consistent with his position that the law was insufficient because it failed to repeal and replace.  But the no vote gave the Maverick the added pleasure of driving  a retaliatory ice pick into the neck of the future ex-president. Trump’s plan to repeal healthcare died with McCain’s vote. He trumped the President at his own game of political theater. To say the President was enraged doesn’t begin to tell the story. The White House Chief of Staff was found the following day floating in the Potomac.

 McCain issued a statement explaining his position.

While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens.

McCain hasn’t talked about whether he drew any personal satisfaction from defeating one of the cornerstones of the Trump agenda.  But he exhibited the kind of grit that his hosts at the Hanoi Hilton would recognize.

A Case of the DTs

     If I go more than three days without a Donald Trump media gaffe,  I wake up shaking and disoriented. The room spins, I hear voices.  Fortunately, I haven’t suffered this affliction recently.  The past few days of the Trump Turnberry Goodwill Tour were burnished with moments of megalomania. I’ve collected enough to hold me through Labor Day.

     The backstory of Trump’s takeover of the venerable Turnberry links has been told well and often. Like an Airedale marking territory, he had to have this golf course in his collection, if only to turn it into another glitzy Trump destination; eventually to fail.  In the process he has alienated his neighbors, the politicians in his district and Scotland in its entirety. Just this week, the UK Supreme Court threw out his case to pull down the wind farm that vengeful Scots built just offshore of Trump Turnberry’s scenic vista. What a coincidence!

    Showing a deep knowledge of local politics, he congratulated Scotland on voting to leave the European Union.  Regrettably, Scotland actually voted to remain. England voted to leave.  The Scots are considering a second referendum to separate from England in order to stay with the EU. So much for the briefing book.

   His appearance at Turnberry prompted his beleaguered neighbors to hoist Mexican flags, in solidarity with their North American simpaticos, whom Trump has promised to wall off. Those are among the same neighbors whose land Trump wanted to seize.  He was picketed, pilloried and posterized. He was strafed with insults and taunts that put his feeble attempts to shame.  Being called Lying or Little or Crooked is nothing compared to being called Tiny-fingered, Cheeto-faced, ferret wearing shitgibbon. And worse.

Not to mention that he took most of the week off from the campaign for his sojourn to the Old Sod. In some polls, he has dropped behind Hillary Clinton by double-digits.  The Republicans found the situation so dire that they sent Mitch McConnell, the stone-faced master of the Senate, before the Sunday pundits.  Even poor Mitch broke character trying to parry questions about Donald’s excellent adventure.

Donald Trump took this ill-advised trip when his campaign is struggling. His party is pulling away with both engines fully thrust. He is so lacking in preparation and politesse that he does not even know his host’s position on the most important issue in the world at this moment.

I’ll sleep well tonight.

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