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The GOP is united – for now

The GOP is united – for now

But why?

You hear it everywhere right now: the Republican Party is united as never before.

Mitch McConnell was pretty witty about it: “I want to thank the mob because they’ve done the one thing we were having trouble doing, which was energizing the base.”
It’s not just the base, of course. The moderate right and the more conservative right and the more extreme right are all on the same page for the moment, thanks to the behavior of the Democrats.

But Democrats have behaved badly before, and it certainly didn’t unify the GOP. The Kavanaugh attacks and the GOP defense against those attacks had some very unusual characteristics that gave them that unifying potential and ensured that the potential was fulfilled:

(1) Kavanaugh is not especially conservative. He’s long been allied with the Bushes, and his judicial positions and decisions have for the most part not been extreme. In fact – although so much has happened since his initial nomination that it’s hard to remember the buzz at the beginning – quite a few people from the right wing of the party were unhappy about the nomination because they felt he’d be a squish as a justice and not conservative at all. And maybe he will be a lot squishier than we think. So initially it was actually the more conservative side of the GOP that wasn’t ecstatic about his nomination.

(2) Kavanaugh was seen by the GOP as a sort of Boy Scout. He was nominated in part because there was no hint of scandal around him.

(3) And yet the most vicious attack ever seen against a SCOTUS nominee was launched against this particular candidate. The Roy Moore attacks worked in large part because the moderate wing of the GOP hated him, and he was seen even on the right as a bit loopy. Brett Kavanaugh had none of those characteristics. So although the GOP was expecting Kavanaugh to be attacked during his hearings, they were not expecting a combination of Borking (in the Kavanaugh hearings’ first stage) and the Clarence Thomas hearings (in the second, Ford-accusation stage), with the offensiveness of the accusations in that latter stage exponentially more serious than those leveled against Clarence Thomas by Anita Hill.

(4) The outrage and anger from both wings of the Republican Party was tremendous. But the far right of the party is often outraged and angry at what Democrats do. What’s more, Trump standing firm (which he did in the case of Kavanaugh) does not necessarily convince the moderate wing to follow. And it’s the moderate wing that all-too-often shrugs its shoulders or gives in. This time, that was not felt to be an option. Kavanaugh was their man, and he was being trashed.

(5) He was also being trashed in an exceptionally underhanded and extreme manner: sexual charges from when he was a teenager, minus any detail that would enable him to defend himself properly or disprove them, and with no corroboration. Then came the piling-on of even more scurrilous and less believable charges, and it was clear that the Democrats were championing trial by ordeal and mob rule.

(6) That was frightening to both sides of the GOP. But not one Democrat – with the single uncertain, suspect, wavering, and self-serving exception of Joe Manchin – appeared the least bit frightened by it. The rest jumped on board the USS Defamation.

(7) At that point, it was the moderate wing of the GOP that was galvanized. They suddenly discovered that the rules they thought they’d been playing by all this time, the ones they thought at least some of their Democratic colleagues shared, meant nothing to the opposition. They either had never held them at all, or were more than willing to abandon them – and all sense of decency—in their lust for power.

(8) And that’s why it was the moderate side of the right that stepped up to the plate and delivered the goods in the Kavanaugh fight. Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, Chuck Grassley, Mitch McConnell, all of them harshly vilified in the past by the more conservative wing of the party, found themselves uttering words that those who had previously reviled them were now cheering.

(9) Those words from the RINOs had more power to rally the base than if the same messages had been delivered by senators further to the right. The factor of surprise made for a much more attention-getting story. Lindsey Graham’s tirade was much more newsworthy because it came from Graham rather than, for example, Ted Cruz. But in addition, because one of the biggest beefs the far right had previously had with the RINOs was the latters’ lack of courage and fight, the experience of actually seeing and hearing those RINOs fight, and fight hard, did much to evaporate the base’s former reasons for despising them.

And that, folks, is why the GOP is united – for now. I make no predictions on how long this will last.

[Neo is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at the new neo.]


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This “unity” will last until the next border control or government downsizing bill is offered. Then suddenly it’ll be “do we know you?”

    V.Lombardi in reply to Matt_SE. | October 11, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Mitch is very wrong as usual. He is a big problem that is now playing a hero. The base was not energized because of him and the RINOs. They have been betraying and alienating conservative for years. Some other good examples are Ryan, Boehner and Sessions.

    The base not being energized is McConnell’s fault. Bragging about it is silly.

      Matt_SE in reply to V.Lombardi. | October 11, 2018 at 11:06 am

      I agree.
      I find this fawning coverage of McConnell to be sickening and perverse. “Cocaine Mitch” was not offered as a compliment, originally. But McConnell pays people a lot of money to manage his PR, so they launched a campaign to turn it into a positive.

      And because most people are gullible, it worked.

The author says, “But why” are the Rs united.

In sum, we’re all experiencing an “Enough-is-Enough” moment. This sexual accusation/innuendo weapon is the viscous smear. While Bork didn’t get hit with that, probably because his nomination journey was cut short by the smear campaign lead by Ted Kennedy, Bork represented a threat to the left’s lust for sexual license which that dreadful 1973 decision ushered in. If Bork had persevered likely a sexual charge would have been leveled against him. Instead of a really good man and a good judge we got Kennedy, then Souter, neither a standout for the Constitution as written. When another good man was nominated, Clarence Thomas, the sexual weapon became the 16″ gun of the left. It proved useful with Roy Moore and Brett Kavanaugh.

Our good graces have been worn thin by the viciousness of the left; the left never reciprocates with good graces. Contrast the confirmation numbers on judges since Scalia.
GOP nominees,
Kennedy, 97-0
Souter, 90-9
Thomas, 52-48
Roberts, 78-22
Alito, 58-42
Gorsuch, 54-45
Kavanaugh, 50-48

Democrat nominees,
Ginsburg, 96-3
Breyer, 87-9
Sotomayer, 68-31
Kagan, 63-37

Note the pathetic approval percentages for the last five GOP nominees. This all leads to the Enough-is-Enough moment. Ds are to be treated as the enemy that they are.

Maybe they are Americans. The democrats are nothing but communist enemy of the constitution. The Obama Cong are inside the wire.

The GOP is NOT united. The Republican party was cast aside in the 2016 Presidential election. A clear message was sent to GOP politicians that people wanted a change. The Republican Congress ignored that and was well on the way to losing the House and possibly the Senate, as a significant number of the Trump supporters prepared to sit home.

Then the Liberal/Progressive Democrats had a predictable knee-jerk reaction to the Court swinging more right. They are totally invested in abortion and they know that a conservative Court would very likely reverse Roe, if it came up again. Kavanaugh was the ultimate bipartisan moderate judicial candidate. There was no way to keep him from being confirmed, using normal political tactics. They were forced to use a transparently disingenuous personal attack against him. And, no they will not let it go.

What this did was to remind the Trump voters that, no matter how undesirable GOPe politicians are, the Dems are far worse. The Dems shot themselves in the foot with the Kavanaugh attack. And, they did it for an unfathomable ideological, not political, reason. But, none of this means that the Republican party is united. Party politics is largely dead. No matter how much those who are comfortable defining American politics as Rep v Dem.

For me Neo, it’s even more basic than political idealism. The filthy bastards attacked Kavanaugh in front of his wife and children.

As a father and husband – that provoked righteous anger in me that I have NEVER felt so strongly before – it incenses me to the point that I view the perpetrators as rabid dogs who need to be put down. I wrestled with my anger and have channeled it into an absolute resolve to throw the bastards out.

Of all the rhetoric during and since, I most identified with DJT during the swearing in ceremony when he turned to BK’s daughters and reassured them that their daddy was a great and honorable man.

Need I say it? My resolve has a LOT to do with those 2 little girls and Mrs. Kavanaugh. And Mrs. Rand Paul. This shit stops now.

    Walker Evans in reply to MrE. | October 11, 2018 at 12:09 am

    I thought we had enough ammo on hand until this happened; now it’s clear more may be needed. “Rabid dogs” indeed!

Identifying Collins and creatures like her as some kind of “moderate wing” of the Republican party is a catastrophic error. Collins is a rank opportunist who will do whatever benefits her at the moment, and will grab whatever transient cover she sees while doing it. Oh, she’ll put on a red, white and blue suit while announcing what a hero she is, but that will come off as soon as she finds it convenient.

Now, if the Republicans have finally realized that their Senate country-club fantasy is killing them, then the future looks better than it has in a long time. But I see no reason to think they won’t relapse into their fantasy of lost gentility. The D’rats are feral weasels, even more feral than they were when the Republican Party was founded specifically to fight them. Pretending that they’re basically decent sorts who will respond in kind if they’re treated well is a fool’s errand. Everybody knows it right now, but if they forget it, then the D’rats will be in control once again, no matter how many votes they can actually muster.

And really, the rose-colored glasses should come off when talking about Moore or Bork. Both were poor candidates, even without the D’rats working their evil magic. Moore will never recover from his “Ten Commandments” disaster, and Bork has a secure place in American history . . . as Nixon’s hatchet man. Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than do what Bork went ahead and did anyway.

    JoAnne in reply to tom_swift. | October 10, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t disagree more. Even a poor candidate doesn’t deserve what was done to these men.

    V.Lombardi in reply to tom_swift. | October 11, 2018 at 6:21 am

    Collins delayed her decision well after she knew the smear was true. Then she showboated to the senate in a speech I doubt she wrote, portraying herself as a hero. The decision she made was on self interest. She has no interest in conservatism.

I don’t know how long the unity will last, but I do know that it’s real. I was in the grocery store parking lot here in western North Carolina when a car pulled in with Florida plates and political stickers for Trump 2020 and Mark Meadows. The man who got out noticed me looking at his stickers and approached me and asked if I was registered to vote in N.C. I said, “no, Texas,” and I am making SURE I vote- have already asked for my absentee ballot. We chatted and agreed that this election was too important to miss- thanks to the horrendous treatment of Justice Kavanaugh.

I see McCarthy promising to introduce a bill to fund the wall, after the elections, of course; I see the house complaining that Rosenstein told the judiciary committee to go suck on a Popsicle again; Trump is promising to make me buy E15 for my car, reducing its efficiency another 5%; and Medicare dropped ‘cost’ plan this year.

Gee, the GOP sure gives me the warm fuzzies.

I read today about 5 billionaires who are paying hundreds of millions of dollars to swing congress to the left. We must not let them win.

The rats of the GOP are ‘united’ because, right, now, they are more scared of Trump than of the ny times.

Like the rats most of them are, they’ll go scurrying at first opportunity.

I do not necessarily consider Kavanaugh a “conservative” –which is a political term — so much as “scholarly.” He knows how to find the applicable law, consult the legislative history and precedent, and with that background in mind, apply the law to the facts. It is sad when mere scholarship gets equated with a political group.

On the other hand, we really, truly do have judicial idiots who think they can block Executive Branch action without even citing and distinguishing the applicable law (9th Circuit, I am looking at you). So, if “conservative” means knowing how to write an opinion, then liberalism equates with sloppiness (er, um, “being results-oriented”).

I believe the united sense of outrage in the Republican party has to do with the weakness of the ‘case’ against Kavanaugh. They were determined to reject any nominee, and so when an acceptable nominee was presented to them, they were stuck with roaring and screaming about —high school. They tried to buttress the weak, unsupported testimony with their closing smears. Repeating the word “credible” does not make a story scrubbed of verifiable fact from a witness scrubbed of verifiable background, supported.

Seriously, are we really going to talk about fart jokes in a high school yearbook, and allegations of a gang rape ring that evaded six FBI background checks?

I think we have a problem in the leadership of the Democratic Party at the national level, and I think it’s time to name names. Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin orchestrated this mess, down to the rent-a-mobs inside the building. Their roles in this nomination should be fully explored and publicized, so that new rules can be made.

    “Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin orchestrated this mess, down to the rent-a-mobs inside the building. Their roles in this nomination should be fully explored and publicized, so that new rules can be made….”

    Don’t count on it, until we get an AG that isn’t a rat from the Swamp, protecting the likes of Schumer and Durbin.

Obamacare is still the law of the land. Health insurance premiums and deductibles are twice what they were before Obamacare. The GOP has been in power for two years.

If you’re not freaking energized enough to repeal that bill, I’m not feeling very energized to support you. The GOP has done pretty much everything possible to not support Trump, who actually fights…your value prop has to be better than “we are the ones not impeaching the president”

“But why?”
I’m naive enough to think they FINALLY heard our voices and our will to let them lose their elected positions.

Why? Maybe the party is getting an inkling that democrats really don’t give a sh*t about collegiality or rules when they’re out of power, or even when they’re in it. Maybe they’re tired of looking like chumps who cave-in or throw someone under the bus at every turn. Maybe they’re realizing that the press isn’t going to like them no matter what they do as long as they have an (-R) after their names. Maybe they’re realizing this is what has pissed off so many conservatives over the years. We can come together like democrats do if our folks don’t think we’re going to be pitched over the side the first time some moderate starts getting week-kneed.

    CaptTee in reply to aka Hoss. | October 12, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Democrats love collegiality and rules, if they aid in keeping Republicans quiet about what the Democrats are up to.