Republican moderates warn Schumer: Don't call our bluff on nuking the filibuster to confirm Gorsuch

Let me add one point to this post from last night about the deep stupidity of Democrats filibustering Gorsuch. There is one way it could pay off: If Schumer knows for a fact that there are three Republicans who won’t vote to nuke the filibuster under any circumstances, which would guarantee that McConnell’s attempt to change the rule would fail, then it makes perfect sense. Block Gorsuch, call McConnell’s bluff, then let the world watch as the GOP fails epically to exercise the nuclear option. It’d be a policy victory and a total humiliation for Republicans.

But then, the whole point of the post was that Gorsuch is a bad choice to try that strategy. Because he’s so unobjectionable, objecting to him reeks of obstruction for the sake of obstruction. If Gorsuch can’t get confirmed, no one can get confirmed. Which means any Republican who refuses to nuke the filibuster would be effectively deciding that Scalia’s seat will remain vacant until 2019 at least. That’s not going to happen. And, per John McCormack, even the squishiest Republicans recognize it:

Arizona senator John McCain hinted Thursday afternoon that he’s ready to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch with a simple majority if Senate Democrats take the unprecedented step of filibustering a Supreme Court nominee. Asked what Republicans should do if 41 or more Democrats try to block Gorsuch, McCain told THE WEEKLY STANDARD: “I think we’ll address it when it happens. None of us want to do it, but we’re going to confirm Gorsuch.”

Earlier Thursday, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also signaled that he’s willing to confirm Neil Gorsuch with a simple majority. “Whatever it takes to get him on the court, I will do,” Graham said when asked on the Mike Gallagher radio show about eliminating the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees, a rules change sometimes known as the “nuclear option.”…

“There’s no reason for anybody to filibuster,” said Lisa Murkowski, a moderate from Alaska. “Gorsuch is a good guy.”

If traditionalists like McCain and RINOs like Graham and Murkowski are ready to pull the trapdoor on Schumer, he’s in trouble. The Hill has a story out today titled “Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support,” but read past the headline and you’ll see that the red-state Dems whom Republicans are counting on to join them in voting for closure are conspicuously hesitant to say that they’ll join Schumer’s filibuster. Of seven centrist Democrats quoted, only Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is a no. The other six — Joe Manchin, Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, Angus King, Jon Tester, and Michael Bennet of Gorsuch’s home state of Colorado — are all in “still thinkin’ about it” mode. That’s a bad sign for a minority leader who just sounded the alarm that the fate of the republic depends on blocking Neil Gorsuch from the Supreme Court or whatever. Given that the nuclear option is a fait accompli if Dems filibuster, those red-state Dems face an interesting strategic choice: Do they risk pissing off their base by voting for cloture on the nomination, knowing that it’s good strategy to avoid a fight over the filibuster on this particular nominee, or do they make their base happy by voting against cloture, knowing that if the filibuster is nuked now it means Trump will have free rein to choose whoever he likes for the next vacancy? Does politics or policy carry the day?

Here’s a tough-talking Lindsey Graham yesterday on CNN, followed by a noncommittal Joe Manchin.