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Is Mitch McConnell “the Michael Jordan of owning the libs”?

Is Mitch McConnell “the Michael Jordan of owning the libs”?

Prepared the battlefield to reshape the judiciary, and now executing the plan to liberal howls.

You remember the phrase: “own a lib”?

It was a hot topic not long ago after Nikki Haley cautioned high school conservatives not to make “owning the libs” the focus of their activism. I respectfully disagreed, ‘Owning the libs’ in the defense of liberty is no vice.

Is Mitch McConnell a master at owning the libs?

Comfortably Smug on Twitter thinks so, referring to him as “the Michael Jordan of owning the libs,” based on McConnell’s latest move to ram through — I mean quickly process confirmation votes on — a large group of judicial and other nominees to overcome Democrat delay tactics:

McConnell’s maneuvering around Democrat obstruction on judicial nominees has been mostly successful, but it hasn’t been easy. We’ve been covering the struggle and the stakes involved since even before the Inauguration. Trump has the opportunity to remake the federal judiciary, and Democrats were slow to wake up to that reality. McConnell couldn’t have done it alone – he’s had a lot of help from Chuck Grassley, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee who has marshaled nominees through the hearing process.

Here are some of our prior posts:

The New York Times magazine had a lengthy article recently lamenting Trump’s success on judicial nominations:

While Trump has lagged behind other presidents in political appointments, the streamlining of the judicial-selection process has helped him deliver a historic number of judges to the federal bench. In 2017, the Senate confirmed 12 of Trump’s appeals court picks — the most for any president in his first year in office. This year, the Senate has already confirmed 12 appellate judges and, according to a Republican Judiciary Committee aide, hopes to confirm at least four more. The White House refers to every new batch of judicial appointees Trump selects as “waves” — in early June, it announced the “Fifteenth Wave of Judicial Nominees”— as if they’re soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy.

Trump’s appointees have tended to be unusually well credentialed and conservative. Republicans like to emphasize their academic and professional bona fides — the summa cum laudes, the Phi Beta Kappas, the Supreme Court clerks — and jokingly celebrate their “deep bench” of candidates….

… representative of Trump’s judicial appointees are judges like James C. Ho. Born in Taiwan, Ho moved to the United States as a toddler. He graduated from Stanford and the University of Chicago law school before going on to clerk for Clarence Thomas at the Supreme Court. After working in George W. Bush’s Justice Department, he succeeded Ted Cruz as Texas solicitor general. Ho is as pure a product as exists of the conservative legal movement created by the Federalist Society….

In short, a radically new federal judiciary could be with us long after Trump is gone. Brian Fallon, a veteran Democratic operative who leads Demand Justice, a group formed to help Democrats with research and communications in the judicial wars, says, “We can win back the House this November, we can defeat Trump in 2020 and we’ll still be dealing with the lingering effects of Trumpism for the next 30 or 40 years because of the young Trump-appointed judges.”

And if Trump is re-elected? Newt Gingrich, who during the 2016 campaign began emphasizing the importance of judges to Trump, posits: “He could, by the end of his time in office, be the most important president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in shaping the judiciary.”

The impact already is being felt. The Los Angeles Times laments that Federal judges appointed by Trump are starting to leave their mark:

Trump’s total of 22 successfully appointed appeals court judges — as of last month — is more than either of the last two presidents at this point in their terms, according to an analysis last month by the Pew Research Center.

“The real kind of big news is the sheer amount of change that’s happening on the court of appeals,” said Harsh Voruganti, founder and editor of the Vetting Room, a website that tracks judicial appointments. “I think we’re going to see a fair amount of change in jurisprudence.”

Trump’s success, both achieved and anticipated, in reshaping the judiciary was one of the reasons I dialed back the Dread Clock:

We are used to losing institutions. The left is not. They are waking up to the possibility that the judiciary may be restored to the neutral role it should play, and would no longer serve as a liberal super-legislature.

The reclaiming of the federal judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, is why the Dread Clock now stands at 5 minutes before midnight.

So how does this make McConnell “the Michael Jordan of owning the libs”? This latest move is what inspired the comparison, via Roll Call, Senate Could Be Tied up For Weeks Voting on Trump Nominees:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to thwart filibusters of more than a dozen of President Donald Trump’s nominees Wednesday afternoon.

The move sets up the potential for weeks of virtually continuous sessions of the Senate, although it is more likely that a bipartisan agreement will be reached at least ahead of the long Labor Day weekend.

The list of 17 nominees is highlighted by Richard Clarida to the Federal Reserve and a slew of Trump nominees to fill federal judgeships in seats across the country.

If senators were to object to time agreements, the Senate could literally spend weeks doing little other than considering the nominations, a move that complicates much of the legislative agenda for the rest of the year, particularly when it comes to finishing consideration of government spending bills before the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

Most of the judicial nominees at issue in this latest wave are for District Courts. That’s a change because most of the focus to date has been on Appeal Court nominees. Appeals Court nominees obviously are hugely important, since they effectively are the last word on most disputes since the Supreme Court takes so few cases. But District Courts are also important, as we have seen with a series of decisions interfering with Trump’s executive authority through nationwide injunctions.

Despite this success, there is a lot more work to be done. Alex Swoyer at The Washington Times reports:

As of the beginning of August, Mr. Trump had won confirmation of 347 nominees, but 170 were still in the pipeline awaiting votes.

Republicans have put a particular focus on filling out the federal judiciary with the president’s picks. They’ve confirmed one Supreme Court justice, 26 circuit court judges and 26 district court picks.

Eight circuit nominees are still pending, as are more than 70 district judge nominees.

Democrats don’t have the power on their own to defeat nominees, given the changes they made in 2013 to filibusters. But they have erected unprecedented roadblocks, forcing Republicans to use the maximum allowed time on many of the president’s picks.

Mr. McConnell responded by canceling the summer vacation, forcing lawmakers to be in town to make progress on nominations.

So again, has McConnell owned the libs?

The libs seem to think so:

While much of the focus has been on Kavanaugh and Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, the Senate’s rapid approval of appellate judges is likely to have its own broad impact on the nation, as the 13 circuit courts will shape decisions on immigration, voting rights, abortion and the environment for generations.

For McConnell, this is the culmination of a years-long gambit that started with stymieing President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees, most notably Supreme Court choice Merrick Garland, and creating a backlog of vacancies on the nation’s highest courts.

Trump’s 2016 election enabled McConnell (R-Ky.) to cement a legacy of judicial confirmations that is likely to be felt long after the two men leave office.


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“”as if they’re soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy.””

Given the hostile environment they’re venturing into, that’s not a bad analogy.

Fear the turtle.

Senator McConnell is colluding with President Trump. The Horror!
The Horror!

We should all pitch in and buy Harry Reid one of those great big giant “Thank You” cards that cost like 10 bucks to mail.

For without Harry Reid’s exceedingly helpful Filibuster Reform [he thought Hillary Clinton was the ‘no way she can lose candidate’ too], this would not even be possible.

Thank you, DINGY!

McConnell is also preventing recess appointments so Trumps is stuck with boys already running DOJ/FBI/CIA/NSA. It seems that Sessions and Rosenstein are safe until the judicial appointments are done.

    Aarradin in reply to MSO. | August 23, 2018 at 4:05 am

    Was wondering why Trump wasn’t using recess appointments to clear up the backlog of administrative nominees still waiting for confirmation.


    VaGentleman in reply to MSO. | August 23, 2018 at 6:14 am

    From a tactical standpoint, aren’t the judicial appts more important in the long term (decades) than any recess appt to an agency would be?

      Long term, it’s Trump’s time in office balanced against the appointments confirmed. Many in Trump’s administration are trying to reduce his time in office.

    Milhouse in reply to MSO. | August 23, 2018 at 7:54 am

    McConnell isn’t preventing recess appointments. The senate can’t go into recess without unanimous consent, plus the consent of the House of Reps.

      Traditionally, Senators unanimously agree to recess for campaigning every election cycle. I’m not sure how the Senators would vote on a recess should they be given the opportunity.

        Milhouse in reply to MSO. | August 23, 2018 at 11:56 am

        Traditionally? In the past, but not for the last 12 years or so. The senate stopped taking recesses during the W Bush years, and continued that practice during the 0bama years, I think even when the Ds had the majority.

To answer your question and extending your metaphor. McConnell is not the Jordan of owning the libs. MCConnell is the Scotty Pippin of owning the libs.

Donald Trump is the Michael Jordan of owning the libs.

Sorry. To me, he’s just doing what anybody with half a brain should be doing. It is ridiculous to compare him to Michael Jordan. Too bad he didn’t do something similar with the Iran deal when he had the chance. Or the EXIM bank.

    redc1c4 in reply to BKC. | August 22, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    Chinless McTurtle, is a RINO…

    that he did ANY of this, let alone hold up Obola’s SCOTUS pick is a fing miracle.

    he’s still a POS, but smaller than expected.

    now, how about some recess appointments, biotch? (xim, not you)

    Milhouse in reply to BKC. | August 23, 2018 at 7:52 am

    It wasn’t possible to stop the Iran deal without 2/3 of each house; the numbers just weren’t there. And EXIM unfortunately was supported by majorities in both houses.

      Because the power of the purse is powerless.

        Milhouse in reply to SDN. | August 24, 2018 at 6:56 pm

        Implementing the deal didn’t require any appropriations, so what power of the purse? If you mean a law banning spending any money on it, (a) that needs 2/3 of each house too; and (b) not enforcing sanctions doesn’t cost anything, so he could have done it even if such a ban did pass.

I wouldn’t turn my back on Mitch, unless I was looking for a new knife collection.

Mitch McConnell has done everything he can to slow Trump down without being obvious about it. He is the reason Jeff Sessionszzz continues his disgraceful tenure, thus ensuring the Mueller witch hunt goes on and on and on.

    Matt_SE in reply to Matt_SE. | August 23, 2018 at 12:33 am

    P.S. to be honest, I find this slobbering over him to be embarrassing. At best, he’s some sort of nondescript civil servant.

Let’s not forget:
Gorsuch has a seat because Mitch kept it open for him.
Reid went nuclear because Mitch on defense outplayed him.
Mitch prevented gun control by the last admin.

He’s kinda like Trump – not perfect but there’s a lot to like.

    VaGentleman in reply to VaGentleman. | August 23, 2018 at 5:58 am

    Let me add that the battle that is going on between Mitch and Schumer over judicial nominations is epic. 2 masters of senate procedure are locked in combat, and Mitch has been kicking butt.

      clintack in reply to VaGentleman. | August 23, 2018 at 7:13 am

      And doing it with the narrowest possible 50-49 majority.

      Get this guy a few more senators so he doesn’t have to wrangle Collins and Flake and Murkowski and Rand into line for every dinky vote to decide whether to reconsider deciding the last amendment before recommitting the bill to the committee.

Wake me up when the Senate repeals Obamacare (clean repeal, no “replace”) and funds the wall and other immigration enforcement priorities.

It’s fine to ‘own libs’ while you’re racking up actual wins — like confirming judges and cutting taxes.

The danger is when you think that saying something that riles them up is the end goal. Getting a zinger in, watching them squeal, doing a victory dance, and going home patting yourself on your back — not a winning model.

McConnell is just twisting the knife as he uses their own rule changes against them.

He is a RINO ,who should have been replaced long ago,too long ago.

He never should have allowed them to be in the position of requiring a 2/3rds vote to shoot it down. It was just political theater to make it look like they were trying. Instead, it gave Senate approval to the deal.

If he was really a “master” politician, he could of at least made it difficult for the administration.

    BKC in reply to BKC. | August 23, 2018 at 9:23 am

    This should have been a reply to Milhouse.

    Milhouse in reply to BKC. | August 23, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    He did not “allow them to be in the position”. That was the position, and there was nothing he or anyone else could have done about it. The constitution created the position, not McConnell.

    This was the situation: 0bama made it known that he intended to conclude a deal with Iran that would promise only things he could do on his own authority, and would therefore not need anyone’s approval. The only way to stop him was to pass a law removing his authority to waive the sanctions against Iran. and to pass a law over the president’s opposition you need 2/3 of both houses.

    a bipartisan coalition nearly put together that 2/3, but fell a few votes short. They did manage to get one concession out of 0bama: that when he reached his deal he would hold off implementing it to give them another chance to get the 2/3 in both houses to stop it. However the second time around they once again fell short, so the bill failed and he kept the authority he needed to implement his deal.

    That’s the truth. Those who claim that the deal could have been stopped by having the senate vote on whether to consent to it as a treaty, and then defeating that vote, are lying. There is no difference whatsoever between a failed vote and no vote. a failed vote means the senate didn’t act; not voting means the same thing. Either way the law remains the same as it was.

      Bisley in reply to Milhouse. | August 24, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      Still wrong, and still lying. McConnell and Corker devised and passed a bill that pre-approved whatever deal Obama made with Iran, and required two-thirds of both houses to reject it. It had nothing to do with the Constitution, and was very likely unconstitutional itself.

        Milhouse in reply to Bisley. | August 24, 2018 at 7:01 pm

        You are the one who is lying. They did no such thing. The bill you refer to did almost the exact opposite. It required 0bama, before implementing any deal he made, to give Congress time to put together the 2/3 in each house that the constitution required to forbid it. Without this he could have implemented his deal immediately, and even if they found the 2/3 it would have been too late.

Sorry, McConnell is still a statist weasel.

McConnell is generally a corrupt, power-hungry jerk who puts his personal position and the program of the party’s ruling establishment (and donors) above the good of the country. I’m happy to see him on the right side of this, helping to put some competent judges into the courts (rather than the steady stream of leftist political hacks we’ve been getting in recent years), but it doesn’t make up for all the things he’s been on the wrong side of.

A good majority leader could have got bills through the Senate to end Obamacare, control immigration (legal and illegal), and numerous other things that need to be done. Instead, McConnell does everything possible to thwart and obstruct anything positive being done, and backs bills that claim to deal with the problems, but in reality do nothing, or make them worse (while burying any that could be effective). McConnell is a party hack, a representative of the leadership establishment that sells government to their major contributors for the money that gives them power over elections, and control over most of their elected officials. He, and his kind, need to be driven out of government.

    Milhouse in reply to Bisley. | August 23, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    A good majority leader could have got bills through the Senate to end Obamacare, control immigration (legal and illegal), and numerous other things that need to be done.

    How? Even Harry Reid, with 59 senators, could not get the 0bamacare amendments through the senate, or any other legislation to which a united GOP objected strongly. The only way the original bill passed was because he had 60. Once he lost his 60th vote the bill could no longer be amended, which is why it ended up the mess it was.

      Bisley in reply to Milhouse. | August 23, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      The sixty vote rule to close debate and allow a vote is just that — a rule, adopted by majority vote, that can be ended, suspended, or changed by majority vote. Reid ended it for judicial nominations when Republicans obstructed him packing the courts with leftist political hacks, and would have done it to get Obamacare through, if there had been no other way.

      McConnell could evade it, or end it, with a simple majority, if he actually wanted to get anything done. It should be ended anyway — it has nothing to do with allowing a full debate (if it ever did), it’s only a means to give the minority the power to kill legislation that should otherwise pass. The Constitution specifies super-majorities necessary only for Constitutional amendments, veto overrides, treaties, and convictions of impeached officials — that should be quite enough.

        Milhouse in reply to Bisley. | August 24, 2018 at 12:21 pm

        Reid ended it for judicial nominations when Republicans obstructed him packing the courts with leftist political hacks, and would have done it to get Obamacare through, if there had been no other way.

        That is not true; the proof is that he didn’t. When he lost his 60th vote he did not end the filibuster, but instead told his fellow Ds they would have to work with the bill the senate had already passed, and make only those amendments that could be done through reconciliation. That’s why it ended up as such a mess. The senate bill was never intended to be the final bill, it was just a framework that they would amend in conference. But they ended up having to stick with it.

        He also didn’t end the filibuster when the Rs became a major pain in his rear end, blocking all kinds of legislation that was important to him. Therefore it’s false to say he would have, and this is also strong evidence against the proposition that Schumer will end it if he gets the chance.

          Bisley in reply to Milhouse. | August 24, 2018 at 1:43 pm

          You’re a liar and a fool. Obamacare was always intended to fail (though not quite in the way it has) so that they could replace it by taking full control of healthcare with something similar to Britain’s NHS. They were never really concerned with the exact form of it, as long as government was put in control — HHS was left a mostly free hand to put it into its final form anyway. It was the most important thing to the Democrats that they had a chance to do since FDR’s time, and Reid would certainly have scrapped the filibuster to pass it if he hadn’t been able to get sixty votes.

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | August 27, 2018 at 1:34 am

          This is just manifestly untrue. It does not track with the events that actually happened at the time, and can easily be found on the web, including in this blog’s archives. I don’t know which universe your delusions come from, but it’s not this one.

      Edward in reply to Milhouse. | August 23, 2018 at 8:33 pm

      It would have been a mess no matter what.

From the NYT Magazine linked to above:

When Trump Took office, he inherited not just an open Supreme Court seat but 107 additional judicial vacancies. Ronald Reagan, by contrast, had 35 unfilled judgeships; Obama had 54. “There’s a million qualified conservative lawyers out there,” says J.Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist close to Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader. “The hard part was securing the vacancies and actually having a place to put them all. That was the spade work done by Mitch McConnell in the Obama years.

From the moment Obama entered the White House, McConnell led Senate Republicans in a disciplined, sustained, at times underhanded campaign to deny the Democratic president the opportunity to appoint federal judges. McConnell’s first move came six weeks after Obama’s inauguration, in the form of a letter, signed by all 41 Republican senators, which warned the new president that if he did not consult with — and, more crucial, receive the approval of — home-state senators for his judicial nominees, then the Republicans would filibuster, insisting on 60 votes to end debate. “They were very clear from the beginning that they were going to make this as difficult and as partisan as possible,” says Christopher Kang, who worked on judicial nominations in the Obama White House Counsel’s Office.

8 years ago Mitch planned the demise of the dems judicial stranglehold and stuck to it. It wasn’t just the Gorsuch seat he kept open for when we could fill it. Now we are reaping the rewards of his work. I love a leader who is smart enough to plan and wait. Thanks, Mitch.

Pity he can’t get any legislation passed and bends over to accommodate bloated democratic budgets.

He did a great job of getting Gorsuch on the bench, but let’s not oversell it.

“While Trump has lagged behind other presidents in political appointments”? Because ‘the turtle’ has no testicles like Dingy Harry did.

No, he ain’t.
He is back stabbing swamper.
Don’t ever ever credit his actions with honor.

So mcconnell does his job every now and then. Most time he doesnt.

Give him Odumbo’s nobel prize.

Ohio Historian | August 27, 2018 at 7:33 am

Democrats have themselves to blame. Remember who voted to put the Nuclear Option into effect. It was not the Republicans, but it was the greedy left trying to remake the judiciary. Now it looks like they may have again opened a door, smacking themselves in the face with it. Way to go, leftists! As the saying goes, every leftist plan yields the opposite result.