Friday was a surreal day for everyone who considers themselves conservative or Republican.
On the one hand, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Kavanaugh in a shocking and unusual display of intrepidness from Republican members. On the other hand, at high noon, President Trump signed into law the worst budget and policy betrayal of any majority party against its voters in recent memory.
So where do things stand?
Putting the hard-core RINOs like Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins aside, have Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and Chuck Grassley really learned their lesson of holding the line on principle and recognizing they can’t negotiate in good faith with opponents who will use their goodwill to cut their hearts out? Will they finally look across the aisle – not just in the context of Supreme Court nominees – and view the other side the way Democrats incorrigibly view them?
It has been observed that last Thursday’s crescendo of emotional testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in conjunction with the culmination of the truly evil behavior from Democrats, was a galvanizing and unifying moment for the disparate and conflicting elements of the barely coherent Republican Party. But there is no evidence to support the assumption that Republicans have learned their lesson on any other issue in dealing with Democrats.
We must not trust and hope that Republicans will begin fighting for us; we must demand it and verify it. They hold the line, or try to, on SCOTUS nominees because of what’s at stake for them if they don’t, and no amount of angry rhetoric on the Kavanaugh situation indicates that they will change this mode of operation.
Put simply, Republicans need to hold the line on the Supreme Court because it is their cover for elections and for governance. They fight emphatically on nominees and even held open a seat under Obama because it covers up their capitulations on 99 percent of the other issues. Thus, they can’t afford to cave on the Supreme Court. Plus, by exalting the role of the court to that of the supreme body of government, they excuse themselves from actually promoting tough reforms and taking power back from the courts. They outsource governing to the unelected courts and promise to make the courts better simply by “appointing better judges.” It’s the perfect scam to keep their culture of capitulation intact while still forcing conservatives to remain on their plantation every other November.
Thus, their strong position on “appointing and confirming better judges” really comes from their bad view of the role of the courts and their preference for distracting conservatives from all their other failures and betrayals on spending, abortion, traditional values, health care, immigration, and free markets.
But on this one issue of SCOTUS justices, where mainstream leadership members want to hold the line, they can’t even move the ball past the goal line because of the three or four RINOs at the fringe of the conference who are now obstructing confirmation. Some might sympathize with the leadership types – McConnell, Cornyn, and Grassley – because they would have confirmed Kavanaugh already if not for the wayward RINOs. Perhaps we just need to “elect more Republicans.” But the reason we have these RINOs is because of the failed leadership.
Every time conservatives push to nominate candidates who actually support the party’s platform, McConnell and crew burn down our candidates with the same vigor the Left is employing against Kavanaugh. They are personally destroyed. We could easily gotten Joe Miller in Alaska last time instead of Lisa Murkowski, but the establishment has no standards.
It’s not like Republicans are attempting to improve their roster, either. They have all backed Mitt Romney, against all competition, to win a Senate seat in ruby-red Utah. Now, Mitt Romney, who will likely become the new John McCain, is extolling Democrat demands on Kavanaugh. We have him to look forward to as the light at the end of this election. Even Marco Rubio is wavering on the issue. It’s no surprise, given that he and Tim Scott have already teamed up to sink a solid Ninth Circuit nominee, which likely taught Democrats that using identity politics and sensationalism can pick the Republican lock on even on the sacred issue of judicial nominees. The number of potential RINOs on any given issue is infinite because the party has no core beliefs and no process through which to vet candidates like Democrats do. Democrats run a right ship. Even Democratic members who hail from solid red states stick with the party and are voting against Kavanaugh. They don’t have a “DINO” problem because their party exudes core convictions on a daily basis.
Which brings us to the post-Kavanagh dynamic. Have these Republicans learned anything? Will Lindsey Graham suddenly serve as a bulwark against Democrats immorality, motivated by the same power-hungry truculence, on other issues such as border security and health care?
During last Friday’s vote on Kavanaugh, John Cornyn, the number two ranking Republican, referred to Democrat members of the committee as “cruel, reckless, and having no sense of decency.” I think he genuinely meant what he said and was sincerely pained by their behavior. But now that he recognizes that these people have no sense of decency, why is it that they he and others sit down with them and either fully or partially agree with their plans for crime, immigration, health care, budget, or any other issue? Don’t they see that everything about Democrats is motivated by power and that they will be cruel, reckless, and lack decency in pursuit of all those policy goals, particularly when they are designed to cement their political power, as is evident on issues like health care and immigration?
What few people outside Washington realize is that 90 percent of the work in Congress is remarkably bipartisan – and all in one direction. That is not the direction of conservatism. There is no evidence that what is happening to Kavanaugh will serve as a watershed moment for these people to change the way they do business with Democrats. Indeed, they just passed a budget supported by every cruel, reckless, and indecent Democrat member of that committee, including Kamala Harris, Mazie Hirono, and Cory “Spartacus” Booker.
Conservatives would be making a grave mistake to trust an unverified change in the behavior of GOP leadership. We have a lot more work to do than simply “voting Republican” for five minutes behind a booth on a Tuesday every other November.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.