Ginsburg undergoes surgery to remove cancerous nodules from lungs

They removed two malignancies and there’s no further sign of disease. I’m glad, both as a matter of basic humanity and a matter of the country needing a breather before the SCOTUS confirmation war to end all wars. The Kavanaugh battle + a shutdown + worse-than-usual Trump craziness + a tanking stock market = too much. It’s too much right now. Let’s just all enjoy Christmas.

Read the fine print. Her fall last month ended up being a happy accident. Although she broke some ribs, they might not have detected the cancer otherwise.

Not too happy, though:

Ginsburg’s health scare is a reminder to take with a grain of salt all of the stories on the wires today about congressional Republicans being fed up with Trump. Fed up how? They’re not going to punish him by borking a Supreme Court nominee, nor should they assuming that the nominee’s well-qualified. I’ve read half a dozen pieces today describing their exasperation with him but I can’t figure out how, apart from snotty tweets, that exasperation is supposedly going to manifest itself.

Why it matters: A former Trump aide who asked to be described as “a Trump ally” told Axios that the sudden wave of criticism from the Hill over Syria and Mattis should scare the president because he would desperately need these lawmakers’ support during a possible impeachment battle.

“Once Republican lawmakers start rebuking the president publicly like this over policy, it makes it easier for them to say: ‘It’s not just Mueller or ethics. There are other concerns.’ Then it’s a slippery slope.”

“There’s going to be an intervention,” said a former senior administration official to WaPo about Mattis’s resignation. “Jim Mattis just sent a shot across the bow.” What kind of intervention? It’s probably true that this week made the Senate marginally more likely to remove Trump if he’s impeached, but the key word there is “marginally.” They’ll never get to 67 votes because Senate Republicans joining with Democrats to remove a Republican president, no matter how much evidence there is against him, would be seen as a betrayal so momentous that it would break the party. They’ll never do it. Although the final vote total for removal might be a smidge higher now than it was last week.

This is more plausible as a scenario for how the Senate might check Trump:

You’d need four Republicans or more to pull that off, though. Who would they be? Before you say “Collins,” remember that Collins is facing reelection in 2020 and already has a heavy lift in the general due to her Kavanaugh vote. She’ll be reluctant to add more weight by pissing off righties in partnering with Dems to block Trump nominees. Murkowski might be game, though. Maybe Romney too. Sasse? Even if they’re all aboard, that’s three. Who else?

And it goes without saying that any coalition would be suspended for SCOTUS votes. Populists might tolerate Romney et al. playing hardball on who the next Secretary of Defense is. They’re not going to tolerate fumbling away a chance to tilt the Court strongly conservative because the centrists in caucus prefer a “sensible moderate” or whatever.

Exit quotation from CNN’s John Berman: “I heard from a Republican staffer on the Hill who said this makes impeachment more likely.”