Consider this a follow up to a post I wrote yesterday about the collapsing opposition to the Kavanaugh nomination. Today, the Hill notes that Senate Democratic leaders are sounding a bit frustrated with the wild expectations coming from of their own base. Senators Schumer and Durbin and are doing their best to prepare the left for imminent failure.
Back when Justice Kennedy first announced he was resigning there was some immediate speculation about ways in which Democrats could prevent the GOP from replacing him. A University of Miami political scientist named Gregory Koger proposed to Vox and other news sites that Democrats could prevent a vote by denying a quorum. Simply put, Democrats would refuse to show up for work and thereby prevent the GOP, which needs a simple majority present to hold a vote on anything, from acting.
I wrote about this here and suggested that, as dumb as it sounded, the left would probably push leadership to consider it. There is some precedent for something like this, at least at the state level. Remember when Democrats fled the state of Wisconsin to prevent Republicans led by Governor Walker from passing ACT 10? That worked for a few days though ACT 10 was eventually passed. Sure enough, it sounds as if people have been recommending something similar to Sen. Chuck Schumer who is stuck having to his excited base it won’t work:
Senate Democratic leaders this week appeared to try to tamp down expectations of the party’s progressive base, with Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) saying the procedural options for Democrats “are not that large.”
“There is no way we can prevent the Senate from meeting. There’s been some discussion about that, but it just wouldn’t happen,” Schumer told reporters during a weekly press conference when asked about the possibility of actions like boycotting a confirmation hearing.
Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate is also getting lots of not-very-helpful suggestions from frustrated progressives:
“Some of the things that have been in blogs and suggested do not even understand the basics of the Senate,” he said. “Some of the people who have come up to me at parades and said, ‘Shut ‘em down, do this, do that,’ it reflects a limited understanding of how the Senate operates.”
To be fair, the professionals don’t seem to have any better ideas. Adam Jentleson is the former deputy chief of staff to Sen. Harry Reid. He has a piece in the Washington Post today offering a “four-part playbook” for stopping Kavanaugh. Step one is to prevent any red state Democrats from breaking with the party by any means necessary. That will be great news for Republicans in November.
Step two is to put pressure on Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski who, as I noted yesterday, are already sounding pretty wishy-washy when it comes to opposing Kavanaugh.
Step three is to publicly scrutinize Kavanaugh’s opinions.
Finally, step four is to go right back to the kind of absolute obstructionism that Senate leadership has already said isn’t realistic:
Democrats should force the issue by using the substantial power of the minority to grind the Senate to a halt and scuttle other Republican priorities — including funding the government when the current fiscal year ends Sept. 30…
A government shutdown didn’t work out so well for Democrats the last time they tried it. In any case, by the next paragraph, Jentleson admits step four probably won’t work: “To be clear, denying consent is an effective tactic for delay, but it’s not a path to blocking Kavanaugh. If the GOP has 51 votes, the procedural delays can be overcome and Kavanaugh will be confirmed.”
In other words, the four-point plan really hinges on point number two. Democrats can flee Washington or gum up the works all they want, but unless two Republicans cross party lines, this won’t work. It might, however, succeed in convincing voters in red states that a few Democratic Senators who are already on the bubble should be ousted. That will be great news for Republicans who have a real chance to pick up seats in November. It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for Chuck Schumer. Almost, but not quite.