Mitch McConnell has some nerve.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is once again demonstrating the depths of his craven audacity.
In an op-ed published in Politico, McConnell accuses Democrats of what he calls "historic obstruction" because they have not given every Trump nominee immediate and unquestioning approval.
"It's mindless, undiscriminating obstruction for the sake of obstruction," McConnell complains, conveniently forgetting his unprecedented attack on American democracy and the Constitution when he stole a Supreme Court seat in 2016.
Despite President Obama's clear authority and obligation to name a replacement to the seat that was left open when Antonin Scalia died, McConnell refused to even meet with Merrick Garland, the president's nominee, telling Garland by phone that meeting in person would be a waste of time because the Senate would not bother with hearings for him.
McConnell and his fellow Republicans insisted there would be no hearings for any nominee, even before President Obama named Garland. In fact, Garland was suggested by then-Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a Republican on the Judiciary Committee who called him a "fine man" and dared President Obama to name him.
Choosing someone who supposedly had the approval of the GOP didn't matter. McConnell obstructed Garland's nomination for the sake of obstruction. He and his fellow Republicans baselessly claimed at the time that President Obama did not have the authority to nominate a Supreme Court justice during an election year. They even invented a term — the Biden Rule, they called it — to falsely argue that blocking a president's Supreme Court nominee in an election year was a "longstanding tradition."
Of course, no such rule or tradition exists, as Politifact noted at the time. It was a transparent and cynical attempt to keep the seat open in the hopes that a Republican would win the White House and appoint a radical conservative.
And it worked.
Now McConnell is attacking Democrats for supposed obstruction, as he if never set such a precedent.
"It's mindless, undiscriminating obstruction for the sake of obstruction," McConnell complains, conveniently forgetting that when he led the obstruction of Garland's appointment to the Supreme Court, he did so even before Garland was named. Garland was, in fact, suggested by then-Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a Republican on the Judiciary Committee who said Garland was a "fine man" and dared President Obama to name him.
McConnell has even gone so far as to blame Democrats for important and currently vacant seats in government.
"Because of this obstruction, the Senate’s progress in filling important executive branch positions has been insufficient," McConnell says. "Crucial jobs are still being held empty out of political spite."
In reality, Trump has refused to even nominate people to crucial jobs. The Department of Defense, for example, has no secretary because Trump has not bothered to name anyone to the position since Jim Mattis resigned in December. Trump has lagged far behind prior administrations, leaving hundreds of critical positions unfilled.
Now, in a further attempt to pack every level of government and particularly the judiciary with far-right ideologues, McConnell is claiming he has no choice but to change the Senate rules to ram through these appointees.
McConnell claims his proposal is "modest," but it would drastically reduce the time senators have to debate nominees, from 30 hours to 2, allowing McConnell and his party to rush nominees through with little time to consider them.
All of this, McConnell claims, is for the sake of restoring "normalcy" to how the Senate functions, as if McConnell did not break the Senate in 2016 to steal one of the most important and powerful jobs in the country.
"This new, across-the-board obstruction is unfair to the president and, more importantly, to the American people," McConnell says now, though he was all too happy to be unfair to the president and the American people before Trump was in the White House.
If McConnell meant a single word he said — and it's obvious he doesn't — he'd apologize for the blatant disrespect he showed President Obama and the American people when he stole a Supreme Court seat. He hasn't done that, though, and he won't. Which is why his sudden disingenuous consternation about "obstruction" is so meaningless.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.