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“Trump Makes Neoconservatives Look Good”: Trump Has No Understanding Of The World And The Role We Play

Donald Trump’s foreign policy was poorly received by neoconservatives, as is obvious if you look at the reaction at the Washington Post. Pro-Iraq War editorial board chief Fred Hiatt said that Trump’s vision was incoherent, inconsistent, and incomprehensible. Columnist Charles Krauthammer described the speech as incoherent, inconsistent, and jumbled. While the Post’s resident columnist/blogger Jennifer Rubin expressed concern that, based on Trump’s language, he might be a malleable mouthpiece of anti-Semites.

If neoconservatives come pretty close to being always wrong, the Post’s reaction might be considered the highest form of praise. Unfortunately, most of their criticisms are accurate. This is particularly true when they go after Trump for his looseness with the facts, his contradictory and mutually exclusive messages, and his praise of unpredictability.

For example, Fred Hiatt nailed Trump for insisting that we “abandon defense commitments to allies because of the allegedly weakened state of the U.S. economy” at the same time that he criticizes President Obama for not being a steadfast friend to our allies. Krauthammer wondered how Trump could criticize Obama for letting Iran become a regional power and promise to bring stability to the Middle East without having any commitment to keep a presence there or to take any risks or to make any expenditures.

If there is any remaining doubt about how neoconservatives view Trump’s foreign policy ideas, Sen. Lindsey Graham removed them:

Sen. Lindsey Graham tore into Donald Trump’s speech on foreign policy, calling it “unnerving,” “pathetic” and “scary.”

The South Carolina Republican former presidential candidate told WABC Radio on Wednesday that the speech was “nonsensical” and showed that Trump “has no understanding of the world and the role we play.”

“This speech was unnerving. It was pathetic in its content, and it was scary in terms of its construct. If you had any doubt that Donald Trump is not fit to be commander in chief, this speech should’ve removed it,” Graham said. “It took every problem and fear I have with Donald Trump and put in on steroids.”

He added: “It was like a guy from New York reading a speech that somebody wrote for him that he edited that makes no sense.” And: “It was not a conservative speech. This was a blend of random thoughts built around Rand Paul’s view of the world.”

It’s true that Graham’s response there is a substance-free ad hominem attack, but he did get around to making specific critiques. In particular, he noted that Trump can’t keep his promises to both minimize our presence in the Middle East and destroy ISIS in short order without significant alliances with the regimes in the Middle East. But he won’t be improving our alliances by talking negatively about Islam as a religion and banning Muslims from entering the United States. Graham said that the problem with Obama is that he isn’t seen as a reliable ally by these despots, but that Trump “is worse than Obama…the entire world is going to look at Donald Trump as a guy who doesn’t understand the role of America, that doesn’t understand the benefit of these alliances.”

Graham also blasted Trump’s position on NATO and said that “the idea of dismembering NATO would be the best thing possible for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”

It’s not that Graham properly understands “the role of America” or that he gets the downsides of our alliances with foreign dictatorial regimes. But he understands that you can’t win a war against radicals in the Arab world by making enemies of every Arab (and Muslim) in the world. Graham understands that you can’t criticize the president for being a lousy friend and then rip up longstanding and uncontroversial agreements with those friends while demanding both more money and more deference.

A full treatment of Trump’s speech and foreign policy ideas is beyond the scope of this blog piece, but he’s about to become the leader of a party that is filled with neoconservatives.

They aren’t going to pretend that the emperor has clothes on.

And, for once in their lives, they’re largely right.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 29, 2016

May 1, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, Lindsey Graham, Neo-Cons | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Walking In David Duke’s Shadow”: Trump Treads A Well-Worn Path Of Bigotry

It’s happened before. The Republican establishment, recognizing the danger that the bigoted, demagogic candidate posed to the party, roundly opposed his election. On Election Day, however, the candidate captured a majority of the white vote. It was no fluke, as his odious views were well known. He had even once held elected office. A column I wrote almost 25 years ago refreshed my memory.

The candidate was David Duke, an ex-Klansman, neo-Nazi and former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives who ran for governor of Louisiana in 1991 and lost by a landslide to Democrat Edwin Edwards, thanks to a phenomenal black turnout.

Then, as now with Donald Trump’s campaign, Duke wooed economically discontented and politically alienated white voters by playing to their fears and resentments. Duke’s supporters believed back then that the quality of their lives — financial situation, job security, personal safety — was no better than when President George H.W. Bush took office in 1989, maybe even worse. As a result, they were frustrated, insecure, angry and ready to blame someone. So they gravitated to Duke, a man they believed would vanquish their foes.

The remarkable thing about the “Dukies,” as some of his supporters described themselves, is that they hardly resembled the caricature that might have been drawn of people who openly sympathized with a racist and anti-Semite.

I was in the midst of a large gathering of Dukies on election eve 1991 in a packed, smoke-filled American Legion Hall in the nearly all-white Metairie, La., House district that Duke had represented. I was also among Duke’s crowd the next day at his election night rally in Baton Rouge.

They resembled the enthusiastic white women and men who attend Trump’s rallies. Duke’s supporters were in their 20s, 30s and 40s, along with many senior citizens, more of them wearing jackets and ties and dresses than cowboy boots and jeans.

As with those in today’s Trump crowds, Dukies’ attention and emotions were riveted on their candidate and against the devils he excoriated: criminals who rape, rob and steal; politicians who only want more government and taxes; the liberal news media that try to tell them what to think.

A few of Duke’s 1991 themes echo today.

Said Duke, “Our environment is being threatened by massive immigration.” Sound familiar?

Duke on his trade policy and what he would say to the Japanese: “If you no buy our rice, we no buy your cars.” Is this where Trump gets it?

Duke on values and religious freedom: “I believe that Christianity is the underpinning of this country. . . . And if we lose its underpinning, I think we’re going to lose the foundations of America.”

A similar message is being delivered by at least one top Trump supporter.

Warming up the crowd this week before Trump’s appearance in Hickory, N.C., Pastor Mark Burns said: “Bernie Sanders . . . doesn’t believe in God. How in the world are we going to let Bernie — I mean, really? Listen, Bernie gotta get saved. He gotta meet Jesus. He gotta have a coming-to-Jesus meeting.”

Donald Trump, the outrageous, is no original. David Duke first trod this path.

But Trump is taking his campaign to places Duke never dreamed of.

Duke thought he knew what was bugging white America. White nationalism was his answer.

Trump knows what the United States needs. His answer: Donald Trump.

Trump’s aim seems not to be just the Republican presidential nomination. He clearly wants to be an American ruler, above political party, Washington politics and the demands of democratic compromise. Popularity and admiration will bind him to his followers. He’s so sure of his followers — “many, many millions of people,” as he puts it — that he predicts riots if his path to capturing the nomination is blocked by the GOP establishment.

Trump feeds off a zealotry born out of his promise to reawaken America and restore the country’s greatness. He promises to make his followers strong, instill them with pride, give them hope and make American power dominant in the world.

That kind of thing, too, we have seen before.

From der Spiegel: “There was the impact of the expanded Führer cult on Hitler himself. . . . He became, so it was said, more dismissive than earlier of the slightest criticism, more convinced of his own infallibility. His speeches started to develop a more pronounced messianic tone. He saw himself . . . as chosen by Providence. When, following the successful Rhineland coup, he remarked, in one of his ‘election’ speeches: ‘I follow the path assigned to me by Providence with the instinctive sureness of a sleepwalker,’ it was more than a piece of campaign rhetoric. Hitler truly believed it. He increasingly felt infallible.”

It has happened before.

 

By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, March 18, 2016

March 20, 2016 Posted by | David Duke, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, White Nationalists | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Trump’s Flirtation With Fascism”: Evoking The Sort Of Scene Associated With Grainy Newsreels From Italy And Germany

So it has come to this: The front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, at a campaign rally in Orlando Saturday, leading supporters in what looked very much like a fascist salute.

“Can I have a pledge? A swearing?” Trump asked, raising his right hand and directing his followers to do the same. He then led them in pledging allegiance — not to the flag, but to Trump, for which they stand and for whom they vowed to vote.

Trump supporters raised their arms en masse — unfortunately evoking the sort of scene associated with grainy newsreels from Italy and Germany.

Among those not engaging in such ominous imagery were the demonstrators, who, by my colleague Jenna Johnson’s account, interrupted Trump’s event more than a dozen times. The candidate watched a supporter grab and attempt to tackle protesters, at least one of them black, near the stage. “You know, we have a divided country, folks,” Trump said. “We have a terrible president, who happens to be African American.”

Loaded imagery, violence against dissenters and a racial attack on the president: It’s all in a day’s work for Trump.

In the preceding days, he had asserted (and later retracted) his confidence that as president the military would obey his orders to do illegal things: torture detainees and target non-combatant kin of terrorists for death. He said House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Republican, would “pay a big price” for defying him, and he said Sen. John McCain, who criticized Trump, needs to “be very careful.” Trump explained his initial hesitance to disavow support from the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists by saying such groups could have included “the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies” — prompting the head of the Anti-Defamation League to call his words “obscene.”

And some still deny Il Duce Donald’s autocratic tendencies?

Abe Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and the retired longtime head of the ADL, said that Trump leading thousands in “what looks like the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute is about as offensive, obnoxious and disgusting as anything I thought I would ever witness in the United States.” He told the Times of Israel that Trump is “smart enough” to know what he was doing.

I’ve perhaps never agreed with Glenn Beck before, but the right-wing radio personality was right to hold up a Nazi ballot on ABC’s This Week on Sunday morning. “We should look at Adolf Hitler in 1929,” said Beck, who usually saves his Nazi analogies for liberals. Beck added: “Donald Trump is a dangerous man with the things that he has been saying.”

The Germans, too, find him dangerous — and they should know. Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, last month called Trump “the world’s most dangerous man” and leader of a “hate-filled authoritarian movement” who “inflames tensions against ethnic minorities …while ignoring democratic conventions.”

I wish I could enjoy Trump, who at last week’s debate defended the size of his penis. But this isn’t a conventional debate between Democrats and Republicans or insiders and outsiders. Trump is on the wrong side of a struggle between decency and bigotry, between democracy and something else.

Yet, incredibly, the other candidates in the race — Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich — all said they’d support Trump if he wins the nomination. The morning after Trump’s salute, the morally neutral Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus told CBS’s John Dickerson that his “role is to basically be 100 percent behind” the eventual nominee.

A braver man, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), sent a letter Friday to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asking if he would heed orders to torture detainees or to target noncombatant relatives of terrorists. Trump, who in reply said Graham “should respect me” and bragged that he “destroyed” Graham’s presidential candidacy, has retreated slightly, saying he’d change laws to allow things such as waterboarding. Without that, he said, “we’re weak.”

Trump lately shows his strength by talking about his wish to punch protesters in the face or by asking them “are you from Mexico?”

As some Republican office holders and donors belatedly try to unify the anti-Trump movement, more are seeing Trump’s words and deeds foreshadowing darker things. On Monday, Jane Eisner, editor of the Jewish Forward, quoted Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt: “Some people didn’t approve of Hitler’s anti-Semitism, but they went along with it because he was going to make Germany great again.”

And comedian Louis C.K., who says he would like to see a conservative president, wrote to his fans about Trump this weekend that “we are being Germany in the ’30s. Do you think they saw the [expletive] coming? Hitler was just some hilarious and refreshing dude with a weird comb over who would say anything at all.”

Where does Trump’s flirtation with fascism end? Nobody knows.

But don’t say you didn’t see it coming.

 

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, March 7, 2016

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fascism, GOP Presidential Candidates, Republican National Committee | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Missouri Suicide Haunts Ted Cruz Campaign”: Campaign Manager Jeff Roe’s Bad-Boy Brand Is Major Hindrance To Cruz’s Presidential Hopes

One year ago today, the Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich took his own life.

Schweich’s political mentor, former Sen. John Danforth, blames Ted Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe, for contributing to his death and said Cruz’s decision to hire him should give voters pause.

It’s not a universal view—far from it. Roe rejects any responsibility for the suicide, and police haven’t in any way assigned him with legal culpability for Schweich’s death. But as Cruz’s opponents question his character, some point to Schweich’s death as evidence of a morally sick presidential campaign.

At the very least, it’s a PR nightmare.

As Cruz gears up for a month of primaries that will likely determine the Republican nominee, his campaign manager has gotten significant attention. That includes a Page One New York Times story describing Roe as “an operative with a reputation for scorching earth, stretching truths, and winning elections.”

Danforth says the truth is less sexy: that Roe loses—a lot—and that his bad-boy brand is a major hindrance to Cruz’s presidential hopes.

A year ago, Roe was working for Catherine Hanaway, who was (and still is) running in the primary to be Missouri’s next Republican gubernatorial nominee. Schweich, then the state auditor, was the contest’s frontrunner. The race got ugly fast.

One of Hanaway’s supporters, John Hancock, started telling people that Schweich was Jewish. Hancock said he may have mentioned Schweich’s heritage to a few people as a neutral fact, and didn’t intend to hurt his chances by stoking anti-Semitism.

Schweich, in fact, was not Jewish; he was Episcopalian, though of Jewish ancestry. Schweich suspected Hanaway’s allies had launched an anti-Semitic whisper campaign against him—a prospect he found deeply disturbing, according to reports from local and national publications.

Another part of the race was weighing on his mind as well: a radio ad, narrated by a Frank Underwood sound-alike, that criticized his physical appearance by saying he looked like the deputy sheriff in The Andy Griffith Show. The ad, which you can listen to here, also called Schweich weak.

“Once Schweich obtains the Republican nomination, we will quickly squash him like the little bug that he is,” intoned the narrator.

Roe, working for Hanaway’s campaign, took responsibility for the ad. He told The Kansas City Star that he paid for it to air during The Rush Limbaugh Show. The ad left Schweich deeply shaken, according to his friends.

“I talked to Tom two days before he shot himself to death and he was terribly upset,” Danforth told The Daily Beast. “And he was upset about two things: One was the radio commercial that was being run making fun of his physical appearance. But even more, he was upset about what I would call a fishing expedition in the waters of anti-Semitism.”

Two days after that conversation, Schweich shot himself. The death shocked the Missouri political world. According to The Washington Post, his wife subsequently told police that he’d talked about suicide in the past while holding a gun.

Danforth said Roe bears some responsibility for Schweich’s death.

“Yes, of course, of course he does,” he said. “When two days before a man shoots himself to death he’s upset about a radio commercial and it’s Roe’s commercial—of course. You don’t just do dirty things to people and then just walk away from it as though, ‘Oh, I didn’t do anything.’ Of course you did. ‘I’m not responsible.’ Of course you are. Of course you’re responsible.”

Danforth made similar comments in the homily for Schweich’s funeral, which he delivered.

“Words, for Jesus, could be the moral equivalent of murder,” he said in the homily last year. “He said if we insult a brother or sister, we will be liable. He said if we call someone a fool, we will be liable to hell.”

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Roe declined to give additional comment on any allegations of culpability for Schweich’s death.

A few months after the suicide, Roe told The Kansas City Star that the death had saddened him. And he defended the ad.

“His resemblance to Barney Fife had been characterized in Missouri newspapers,” Roe told the paper. “He made fun of himself on the stump. It was a parody.”

Speaking with The Daily Beast, Roe said attacks on the moral character of Cruz’s campaign are meritless.

“This campaign is being fueled by millions of people around the country who are putting their heart and soul into electing a consistent conservative, and of course our opponents would have to attack our underlying credibility of telling the truth,” he said.

“They want to change the subject from their liberal records, that they admit, and that’s exactly what we see here,” Roe added.

Though Danforth—the elder statesman of Missouri Republican politics—blames Roe for the death, other prominent conservatives in the state defend him.

“Nobody should be blamed for a guy’s suicide,” said Ed Martin, the president of Eagle Forum, which is based in St. Louis. “I don’t lay it on Roe or anybody.”

Martin added that he disapproved of Danforth’s homily.

“Danforth’s homily, when I sat in the pew, it was a terrible thing—it was a terribly inappropriate thing,” he said. “Danforth should have held a press conference afterwards, not at the eulogy. And because of that, it really spun the whole argument in a way that wasn’t really fair.”

And he said the attacks Schweich faced are just politics as usual—and that if he hadn’t committed suicide, they wouldn’t have drawn special reprobation.

Bill Kenney, who heads Missouri’s Public Service Commission, concurred.

“I think any politician realizes that politics is politics,” said Kenney, who is a former state senator. “The radio ads didn’t cause Tom Schweich to take his life.

“I like Jeff,” he added. “I’m glad I’m out of politics so I don’t have him against me.”

After Schweich’s death, many called for a change in Missouri’s political culture.

“The auditor might have pulled the trigger, but the bullies who were campaigning against him held the gun to his head,” read an editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Tom Schweich is a martyr for the cause,” the same editorial said.

But a year later, Danforth said, things aren’t better. And now, one of the men he holds partly culpable for Schweich’s death is running a top-tier presidential campaign.

Danforth also said the so-called dirty tricks that have damaged the Cruz campaign’s reputation are all classic Jeff Roe. As examples of those tricks, he pointed to the “voter violation” mailer in Iowa, the false statement that Carson was about to drop out of the presidential race, and the use of a photoshopped image of Marco Rubio shaking hands with President Obama.

“I don’t know Roe, but I know what he did to Schweich,” he said. “And as soon as I saw what happened to Carson in Iowa, I said to myself, this is Jeff Roe.”

Martin said Cruz shouldn’t be surprised that his campaign is taking significant heat for its tactics. After all, he said, that’s what Cruz should have expected when he hired Roe: controversy and criticism.

“He likes to play very aggressively and flashily,” Martin said. “There are plenty of people who do hardball tactics who you never hear from, you never know. Then there’s the Lee Atwater model, where you talk about it, and the Jeff Roe model, where you revel in it.

“He’s got a problem now,” Martin continued. “And I bet they’ll address it, but they definitely have a perception problem.”

Danforth said the Cruz campaign has far greater problems than its image.

“In The New York Times article about Roe it said, ‘Well, he’s a master of dirty tricks, but it works,’” Danforth said. “Well, I don’t think it does.”

Danforth noted that while Roe has helped several candidates win statewide races, he’s also chalked up a number of high-profile losses—including a blistering defeat in Jackson County, where he led a $1 million effort in 2013 to hike sales taxes. Fewer than 14 percent of voters ended up supporting the effort.

“I don’t think losing a campaign in Kansas City 86 to 14 is exactly a stellar accomplishment,” Danforth said. “You almost have to try to do that. Who’d ever hire this guy?”

Other statewide losses include Sarah Steelman’s defeat in the 2008 gubernatorial primary, Brad Lager’s 2008 general election bid for treasurer, and Bill Stouffer’s campaign in the 2012 Republican primary for secretary of state.

Roe has won plenty of races, especially on the local and congressional levels. But statewide, he’s also lost a lot.

A year later, Schweich’s family and friends still grieve.

“I think he was probably too sensitive a person to be in elective politics, but so what?” Danforth said. “Does that mean that we all only want the rough-and-tumble people in politics? I don’t think so. Is it OK to pick on somebody who is sensitive? I don’t think so.”

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, February 26, 2016

March 3, 2016 Posted by | Jeff Roe, Missouri Republican Party, Ted Cruz, Tom Schweich | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Now That It’s 2016, New Heights Of Hypocrisy”: GOP Cynicism On The Supreme Court Reaches A New Low

A spokesman for Mitch McConnell said that the Senate should confirm judicial appointees through at least the summer.  The cutoff for confirming judges in an election year, known as the ‘Thurmond Rule,’ “doesn’t need to be June, especially because we’re so far behind on the legislative calendar,” he said.

Similarly, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said, “Let me say this about the Thurmond Rule. It is a myth. It does not exist. There is no reason for stopping the confirmation of judicial nominees in the second half of a year in which there is a Presidential election.”

Even a Bush spokesperson said that the “only thing clear about the so-called ‘Thurmond Rule’ is that there is no such defined rule.”

Of course, all that was in 2008, when George W. Bush was the lame-duck president and Democrats controlled the Senate.

Now that it’s 2016, and the tables are turned, McConnell has said he’d be shocked, shocked if President Obama nominated a Supreme Court justice as late as February of his final year in office.

In fact, while there’s hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle, a review of recent history reveals more of it on the Republican side.

Let’s begin at the beginning.  For 166 years, Supreme Court confirmations used to be a matter of course, with rare exceptions.  In the 19th century, they usually took only a few days.  The current process of Judiciary committee hearings began only in 1955, in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education, with segregationists and other conservatives outraged at the “activist” Warren Court.

The custom of not confirming judges in a presidential election year began with the avowed segregationist Strom Thurmond, who opposed LBJ’s appointment of Abe Fortas as Chief Justice back in 1968.  (Notice, by the way, the “Thurmond Rule” wasn’t even about filling a vacancy – it was about moving Fortas from Associate to Chief Justice.)

Prior to that time, Supreme Court nominations in election years were par for the course.  Justice Frank Murphy was nominated in 1940, Cardozo in 1932, Clarke and Brandeis in 1916, and Pitney in 1912.

But there were many reasons for conservatives to oppose Fortas.  As an associate justice, he had maintained an unusually close relationship with LBJ (allegedly, Fortas helped write one of LBJ’s State of the Union speeches).  There was a minor scandal involving speaking fees. There was Fortas’s religion – it was one thing to have a “Jewish seat” on the Supreme Court, but quite another to have a Jew as Chief.

But mostly, it was ideology.  Fortas was a full-fledged member of the Warren Court, extending due process rights to minors, and writing the opinion that effectively banned creationism from public schools.

The tactic worked.  The Fortas appointment was withdrawn, and the position of chief justice has been held by a conservative for the last 46 years (Burger, Rehnquist, Roberts).

Since then, the “Thurmond Rule” has been understood as holding that lifetime appointments of all types should not be made in the final six months of a president’s term in office.

In practice, however, the “Thurmond Rule” could best be described as the “Sore Loser’s Rule,” since it is wielded by whichever party doesn’t hold the White House at the moment.  In July, 2004, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch said there was no such thing.  And Republican Senator John Cornyn threatened in 2008 that if Democrats invoked the Thurmond Rule, Republicans would go nuclear: “We could require 60 votes on every single motion, bill and procedural move before the Senate,” he said at the time.

Now, it’s the Republicans’ turn to invoke the rule, and Democrats’ turn to be outraged.

But some hypocrisy is more equal than others.

First, the Thurmond Rule has never been extended back this far.  In 2008, Democrats didn’t invoke it until the late summer; Senator Dianne Feinstein said it kicks in after the first party convention.  It’s February now, and even the longest Supreme Court confirmation in history – that of Justice Brandeis, in 1916 – took 125 days.  (Brandeis was called a “radical” and bitterly opposed by conservatives, with antisemitism even more overt than Fortas later faced.)  So this would be an unprecedented expansion of the “Rule.”

Second, the ‘Rule’ has never been applied to Supreme Court vacancies.  On the contrary, when President Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy to the court, he was confirmed 97-0 on February 3, 1988, with Senator McConnell voting in favor.

Now, in fairness, Kennedy was nominated in November, 1987, after the Bork-Ginsburg controversies had left the court with eight justices for five months – seven months counting Kennedy’s confirmation.  It was arguably a special case.  Moreover, Kennedy was a consensus nominee who has emerged as the swing vote over the last decade precisely because he votes equally with conservatives (as in Citizens United) and liberals (as in the same-sex marriage cases).

But if no justice were confirmed now, the vacancy would be even longer: twelve months at least.

Third, the statistics cut sharply against Republicans.

According to a detailed study by the Brookings Institute, the Senate has already slowed down the pace of judicial confirmations to record levels.  In the case of Reagan, Clinton, and Bush, confirmations didn’t slow down until the second half of the presidents’ eighth year in office.  In their seventh years, the Senate confirmed 23, 17, and 29 judges, respectively.  In Obama’s seventh year?  10.

In other words, the two-term Republican presidents fared almost twice as well as the two-term Democrat presidents, with Obama faring the worst by far.

Moreover, the “Thurmond Rule” has rarely been applied with the orthodoxy Republicans now are claiming. An exhaustive 2008 report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service unearthed a goldmine of historical information that belies the current majority’s claims:

In 1980, the Republican-led Senate confirmed 10 out of 13 judges nominated by President Carter in  September, with Senator Thurmond himself coming under fire for trying to block some of them.

In October, 1988, the Democratic-led Senate Judiciary committee led by Joe Biden confirmed 11 out of 22 of Ronald Reagan’s judicial appointees.  In October, 1992, the same committee confirmed 11 of George H.W. Bush’s.

In 2000, the Republican-led Senate confirmed 31 of President Clinton’s 56 nominations.  And the 2004 Senate (narrow Republican majority, Republican president) confirmed a whopping 80% of nominees—despite claims that the Democrat minority was obstructing them.

In 2008, a Brookings Institute review found that George W. Bush’s confirmation rate was 58% for circuit court nominations, 43% for district courts—in other words, roughly the same.

In short, until this one, an opposing-party Senate has never observed the Thurmond Rule.  Not in 1980, not in 1988, not in 1992, not in 2000.  There are typically slowdowns in confirmations, but never a standstill.  And the rule has never been invoked before the summer, let alone before the cherry blossoms bloom.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, we’re in new territory this year, and at new heights of hypocrisy.

 

By: Jay Michaelson, The Daily Beast, February 16, 2016

February 16, 2016 Posted by | GOP, Mitch Mc Connell, Senate, U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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