I don’t know, buddy. Even I opened a cold one after the final vote. It’d be nice if the Flake model for Supreme Court politics prevailed in America, with lots of restraint and decorum befitting the Court’s image as an institution that supposedly stands apart from petty partisan politics. But the reality is the opposite: Supreme Court confirmations are now even more cutthroat than congressional battles. Because everything is on the line with shifting Court majorities, you’re not only entitled to be ruthless in fighting over vacancies, you have an all but moral duty to be so. Thank Roe and the Bork saga and the Estrada saga and the Garland saga and now the Kavanaugh saga for that. It’s been raining bitterness for many years. The reservoir is full and ready to overflow if and when an RBG vacancy opens up on Trump’s watch and/or liberals push their bananas Court-packing idea afterward.
So, might as well pop the bubbly and spray them in the face with it when you win.
Speaking of Garland, it occurred to me that the average lefty probably cares less about getting a champagne bath over Kavanaugh than the fact that they weren’t permitted to pop the champagne themselves over Merrick Garland. How did Flake, the great compromiser, handle that one? I had to refresh my memory. Turns out he did grant Garland a personal meeting after Obama nominated him. But…
Confirmation hearings should wait until Americans choose the next president, Flake said, echoing a majority of Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
“Because this nomination has the potential to so dramatically shift the balance of the court, I continue to believe that the Senate is fully justified in waiting until the presidential election before proceeding to fill the seat,” Flake said.
Flake was part of the stonewall effort on the right. He began to waver on that in October, after the “Access Hollywood” tape emerged, but not because he thought it was unfair to Garland to deny him a hearing. His wavering was driven by a strategic calculation: With Trump seemingly doomed to lose the election, he thought it’d be smart to get the process going on confirming the center-left Garland during the lame-duck session in order to avoid a scenario in which President Hillary nominated a farther-left candidate in 2017 to fill the seat.
So, lefties, which was more annoying? Trump spiking the ball with a White House ceremony for Kavanaugh or Flake helping to block your last best chance for years to shift the Court to the left? I can’t speak for them, but I think I know the answer.
Two clips here, one of Flake talking about Kavanaugh and how McConnell received his last-minute demand for an FBI probe before the cloture vote (not well!) and the second of him hoping that someone primaries Trump in 2020. I’m in the minority in thinking that Flake won’t end up not doing it himself; if anyone will do it, Sasse will, but increasingly I suspect it depends on how Trump handles the fallout from Mueller’s investigation. If he ends up purging the DOJ in the course of trying to purge Mueller, I think he’ll get a token challenge. If he doesn’t, would-be challengers will resign themselves to the fact that This Is The New Normal and acquiesce in him being renominated.