I don’t get it. If Gorsuch is so objectionable, why would any amount of Republican concessions convince Democrats to let him through? Surely this dastardly man must be blocked at all costs.
Blitzer makes him clarify this very simple point about five times during the clip, so if you don’t want to sit through all of it, skip to 4:30 and watch a few minutes starting there. In fairnesss, this isn’t a bad desperation play by Coons. Essentially he’s dangling a “Gang of 14”-type offer in front of Republican moderates like Collins and Portman, knowing that if the filibuster does get nuked, there’s going to be some heavy, heavy pressure on them if/when a Democratic seat on the Court opens up and Trump gets to fill the vacancy. With the filibuster gone, centrist Republicans will be the left’s last line of defense against a conservative replacement for Ginsburg or Breyer; knowing that, maybe Collins and a few others will take Coons up on this offer and agree to forfeit their nuclear power now. That way, they can sell their sellout to the Republican base as a gesture of magnanimity made on behalf of getting Gorsuch confirmed rather than an act of cowardice two years from now when they join with Democrats to Bork whomever Trump chooses for the next open seat.
But I doubt Collins et al. will take Coons up on his offer. The problem is the “payback” factor. For all the Democratic heavy breathing about paying back Republicans for how they treated Merrick Garland, Republicans want to pay back Harry Reid and his caucus for bigfooting their power to filibuster lower-court judges in 2013. But for Reid’s nuclear gambit, I think there would be a handful of Republicans who got cold feet this week and decided to make a deal with Schumer to let Gorsuch through in return for taking the nuclear option off the table. But maybe not: Coons and Schumer have both insisted in the past few days that this crisis could have been avoided if only Trump had consulted with them beforehand about which Republican judges might be acceptable to the minority. (Coons insists here that there are surely some who would have had a better chance at cloture than Gorsuch, by which I assume he means David Souter.) That’s a ridiculous demand, though; a president whose party controls the Senate isn’t going to limit his choices according to the minority’s preferences, just as Obama didn’t consult with the GOP before picking Sotomayor and Kagan. If the price of getting a Democratic buy-in on SCOTUS nominees is letting Democrats vet Trump’s list of judges, even a Collins or Murkowski might balk and tell McConnell to push the button.
In any case, that’s not the world we live in. We live in a world where Harry Reid exercised his first-strike capabilities and now McConnell’s going to counterstrike. Watching this, in fact, I’m not sure Coons is even making a formal offer on behalf of the caucus or if he’s just spitballing to try to make Democrats seem more “reasonable” before McConnell nukes them. If Republicans did express some interest in his proposal, it probably would shake loose a few more red-state Democratic votes and get Gorsuch to 60. But it’s hard to say — their base wants revenge for Garland and they’ve spent weeks swearing up and down, contrary to all available evidence, that Gorsuch is unfit for the Court. Why would any GOP offer suddenly make Gorsuch acceptable to them? Having hopped aboard this missile, they need to ride it all the way down to the ground now.