Missouri’s biggest problem is that her Republican politicians burn red hot while the Democrats run lukewarm at best. That contrast is on full display as the zero hour for Judge Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed approaches and our Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill has to make up her mind about whether or not she is willing to reward Republicans for stealing a Supreme Court seat from a first-rate centrist and giving it to a die-hard radical ideologue with an instinct for affable obfuscation.
And make no mistake, Gorsuch is a rightwing advocate in originalist clothing. Analysis of his votes on the 10th circuit indicate that he “is to the right of both Alito and Thomas, and by a substantial margin.” His tenure will be a disaster for working people, the middle class, women and those interested in separation of church and state.
But his views, although important, are not the main issue. The other Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland is. As Gary Legum asserts in an article in Salon, the Republicans’ exercise of raw power to deny Judge Garland a seat on the court and what it presages for democratic government is the challenge that Democrats are facing:
This is not about grabbing back a “stolen” Supreme Court seat. This is about a principle of republican government that the GOP has smashed. Had the party considered Garland’s nomination and then shot him down in a fair and open vote, Democrats would have no argument here. But the unprecedented obstructionism of the Republican Party makes Gorsuch’s confirmation a proxy in a larger fight that is about the nature of political power, not ideology. And the language of power is the only one the modern Republican Party seems to understand.
Sadly, it doesn’t look like Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill is up to dealing with folks who speak that language. As I write this, she’s coyly flirting with both conservatives and progressives. According to Politico , the lady won’t commit. There are rumors that some centrist Democrats are trying to broker a deal that would let them confirm Gorsuch in return for a few scraps from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Whether or not McCaskill is part of that group – who knows? When it comes to Gorsuch, maybe she will or maybe she won’t, she’s not saying.
McCaskill has, of course, been subjected to enormous pressure to give Donald Trump a victory, and she’s not blind to the fact that Missouri went overwhelmingly for Trump – a fact that Missouri’s GOP waves around like a cudgel. As State Rep. Paul Curtman, one-time* Tea Partier extraordinaire, proclaimed, “Sen. McCaskill can show Missourians she understands the message Missouri voters sent last November by voting to confirm Judge Gorsuch.”
Maybe. Though McCaskill might do better to consider those of us who rejected that message. As well as the fact that we may be joined by more than a few disillusioned Trump voters. Along with some of those who sat out the election to protest the picture of Hillary Clinton painted by Russian provocateurs. Lots of those folks realized what they’d done on Nov. 9. Buyers remorse is a real thing.
One thing’s for sure. No one who voted for Paul Curtman will ever vote for Claire McCaskill. And if she votes to send Gorsuch along his merry, aw-shucks way to the Supreme Court, lots of folks who voted for Hillary Clinton might be of a similar mind.
The real shame, though, is that I’m obliged to cast this issue in terms of realpolitik when it’s the moral dimension that is compelling. Missouri blogger Duane Graham makes the case for what this nomination means for those of us who depend on McCaskill to stand up for our values:
In any case, what we need now is a fierce stubbornness in this fight. But we also need a fierce patience to compliment that stubbornness. John Dryden said, “Beware the fury of a patient man.” Kierkegaard said, “Patience is necessary, and one cannot reap immediately where one has sown.” Today we filibuster an injustice. Tomorrow the filibuster may be gone. And some fine day in the future we will decide, with a simple majority, who sits on the Court.
Or, maybe, just maybe, Mitch McConnell will not want what’s left of his reputation to die on a hill with Tr-mp’s tattered and tainted flag planted on it. Maybe he will keep the filibuster, Gorsuch will go back to the Tenth Circuit, and we will have a more moderate, less Scalia-like nominee. We will never know, though, unless Democrats stand up and fight like hell. …
Why doesn’t McCaskill understand that lukewarm won’t do it this time?
*I say “one-time Tea-Partier” because I’m not sure the Tea Party is a thing anymore. Doesn’t tbe fringe of the fringe now label themselves differently? A little embarrassed because of past excesses perhaps?