It takes John McCain a minute or so to really heat up in this blistering five-minute response to Dick Durbin, but it’s well worth the wait. Durbin yesterday accused Republicans of pushing Loretta Lynch to “the back of the bus” for her confirmation vote, after Mitch McConnell refused to schedule it while Democrats filibustered the human-trafficking bill. “Perhaps,” McCain said as he pounded the podium, “my colleagues — and the Senator from Illinois in particular — need to be reminded of their own record when it comes to the treatment of African-American women” who had confirmation votes scheduled in the Senate:
Janice Rodgers Brown waited 685 days for her confirmation to the 4th District Court of Appeals, McCain points out — after Durbin himself filibustered her confirmation vote twice. “I would never suggest, even with veiled rhetoric,” McCain angrily continued, “that Judge Rodgers Brown’s race was the reason for the Senator from Illinois’ opposition to her nomination.” Thrusting his finger in Durbin’s direction, McCain said with a quaver in his voice, “And I say to my colleague, that he should extend that same courtesy to me and my colleagues.”
What makes this a particularly demagogic and hypocritical argument is that most of the delay on Lynch didn’t come from Republicans. It was Democrats, under leadership from Harry Reid and Dick Durbin himself, who punted on Lynch when they had the chance to approve her themselves:
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) took the hint and implied that the delay for Lynch came from racial animus rather than Democratic obstruction of a widely supported bill. Lynch, Durbin declared, was being “asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar.”
All of this is sheer nonsense. It’s demagoguery of the worst kind, especially since the first choice to put off Lynch’s nomination came from Senate Democratic leadership, in which Durbin ranks second. They chose to delay Lynch’s nomination to use up the remaining legislative calendar to pass what became known as the “cromnibus” bill, which allowed Democrats to retain control over most of the rest of the FY2015 budget, even though they had just lost a national election, and Republicans had won control of both chambers of Congress. Durbin should look in the mirror before making comparisons to Rosa Parks and implying racial animosity where none exists.
It’s a fine rant from McCain, and a reminder of just how rank the hypocrisy and demagoguery has become from Democrats in the Senate.