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“The Lies Mitch McConnell Tells”: He Knows He’s Lying, You Know He’s Lying, And He Knows You Know He’s Lying

A few words about the pious insincerity of Mitch McConnell.

As you are no doubt aware, McConnell, the Senate majority leader, announced on the very day that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died that he would refuse to hold hearings on any replacement nominated by President Obama. McConnell’s “reasoning,” if you want to grace it with that word, was that since the president has less than a year left in his term, the appointment should be made by whomever the American people choose as his successor.

Last week, after Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty by nominating respected federal judge Merrick Garland to the post, McConnell renewed his refusal. “The Biden rule,” he said, “reminds us that the decision the Senate announced weeks ago remains about a principle and not a person. It seems clear that President Obama made this nomination not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but in order to politicize it for purposes of the election.”

The American people, added McConnell, should have a say in this. “So let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide.”

There are four lies here, each more threadbare and cynical than the last:

1. The Biden rule? There is no such thing. There is only an opinion Vice President Biden expressed 24 years ago as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that if a vacancy opened on the top court during convention season — which is still several months off — the president should “consider” not nominating a replacement until after the election. It bears repeating: Biden never said the president should not nominate or the Senate should not vote; he only suggested waiting until “after the election” to do so.

2. It’s the president who’s politicizing this? In psychology, that’s known as “projecting.” Around the way, it’s known as the pot calling the kettle black.

3. “A principle and not a person?” No, it’s about a person — the same person, the president — toward whom McConnell and his party have expressed such unremitting disrespect the last seven years.

4. The voice of the people? The people have already spoken — twice — in elections that were not close. For that matter, they are still speaking. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll says 63 percent of us want the Senate to hold hearings and vote.

McConnell should just claim he’s too busy arranging his sock drawer. That would be more credible than the excuses he’s given.

The quality of a lie is a direct reflection of the respect the liar has for the person being lied to. That will seem counterintuitive, but consider: You put effort into a lie, work to make it plausible, credible, believable, when you have regard for the recipient, when his good opinion matters or his discovery of the truth would be disastrous.

That being the case, what does it suggest when you put as little effort into a lie as McConnell has?

Indeed, while he has been roundly condemned for disrespecting the president, let’s spare some outrage for the way he is also disrespecting us. Not just in failing to do his job, but also in offering such a transparently dishonest rationale for it.

He knows he’s lying, you know he’s lying and he knows you know he’s lying. But you get the sense he doesn’t care. Why should he? Those who need to believe there’s a noble principle behind this obstructionism will be willingly gulled. As to the rest of us, so what?

That’s not statesmanship. It is not even politics. It’s just contempt — and not only for the president. If we cannot count on McConnell and his party to do the country’s business and behave in a manner befitting serious people in positions of responsibility, perhaps it’s not too much to ask that they at least spare us that.

Tell better lies next time.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, March 23, 2016

March 24, 2016 Posted by | GOP Obstructionism, Mitch Mc Connell, Senate Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Senate Republicans Swat Away Obama’s Outstretched Hand”: A Blockade Unlike Anything Seen In The American Tradition

If we were to pretend American politics operated by traditional rules, we’d have some basic expectations about what policymakers would do in the event of a Supreme Court vacancy. A sitting president would reach out to Senate leaders, some names would be floated as part of a conversation, and a nominee would be put forward and considered.

With this in mind, President Obama hosted an entirely predictable gathering in the Oval Office earlier today. Vice President Biden was there, along with the top Senate leaders from each party, and the top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee from each party.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today, “The president … gave everyone in the room, Democrats and Republicans, the opportunity to put forward their own suggestions for potential Supreme Court nominees. The president didn’t guarantee that he would choose that person, but the president did indicate that he would take seriously any recommendations that either Democrats or Republicans had to put forward.”

It all sounds quite routine – or what would be routine under normal American circumstances. But as it turns out, this Oval Office meeting was actually a reminder about just how abnormal the times really are. The New York Times, quoting one of the gathering’s participants, said today’s discussion was “very short.”

Leaving the meeting, [Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid] suggested that the Republicans appear to be waiting for Donald Trump to be in the White House. “There wasn’t much said at the meeting,” Mr. Reid said.

The Hill also quoted Reid saying in reference to the GOP senators, “They were adamant. They said, ‘No, we’re not going to do this at all.’” Referring to Democrats, Reid added, “All we want them to do is to fulfill their constitutional duty, and at this stage, they are deciding not to do that.”

It wasn’t that Democrats were cool to the GOP’s ideas for possible nominees. Rather, Republicans simply said there should be no nominee – and if one exists, he or she will be ignored, regardless of qualifications or merit.

That this was the expected outcome of the meeting doesn’t make it any less scandalous. The political world’s collective assumptions about how this is likely to play out shouldn’t obscure the fact that Senate Republicans are orchestrating a Supreme Court blockade unlike anything seen in the American tradition.

They are doing so without a defense or a coherent explanation, ignoring the Constitution and traditional norms in the process.

For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this morning that he and his party will “observe the ‘Biden Rule,’” in reference to a 1992 speech then-Sen. Joe Biden delivered about hypothetical high-court vacancies.

Under the circumstances, it seems quite likely that McConnell knows he’s brazenly lying. There is no such thing as the “Biden Rule,” and if there were, it wouldn’t justify the current obstructionism. On the contrary, in his 1992 remarks, Biden, describing the possibility of a Supreme Court vacancy that did not exist at the time, explicitly said that if the then-Republican president “consults and cooperates with the Senate, or moderates his selections absent consultation, then his nominees may enjoy my support as did Justices Kennedy and Souter.”

If McConnell wants to believe this established a “rule” that must be honored, then today’s Senate Republicans will have to meet, consider, and vote on President Obama’s nominee – steps McConnell has vowed not to take.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 1, 2016

March 2, 2016 Posted by | GOP Obstructionism, Mitch Mc Connell, Senate Republicans, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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