I tip my hat to both Hot Air readers and to Cocaine Mitch, all of whom grasped the political opportunity Chuck Schumer presented better than I did. “There is nothing to call this except a threat,” McConnell intoned from the Senate floor earlier this morning. “And there is absolutely no question to whom it was directed.” McConnell used Schumer’s vituperative — and ultimately ignorant — rant yesterday to tie it together with Democrats’ long war against judicial nominees, Supreme Court decisions, and the independence of the federal bench.
In its way, it was perhaps one of McConnell’s most stirring performances, and it had one somewhat surprising result — Schumer backed down, at least a little:
‘Contrary to what the Democratic Leader has since tried to claim, he very clearly was not addressing Republican lawmakers or anybody else. He literally directed the statement to the Justices, by name. And he said, quote, “if you go forward with these awful decisions,” which could only apply to the Court itself.
‘The Minority Leader of the United States Senate threatened two Associate Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Period. There’s no other way to interpret that. Even worse, the threat was not clearly political or institutional. As I’ll discuss in a moment, those kinds of threats are sadly nothing new from Senate Democrats.
‘This was much broader. The Democratic Leader traveled to the workplace of two judges, and in front of a crowd of activists, he told those judges “you will pay the price” and “you won’t know what hit you.”
‘If any American had these words shouted at them from a sidewalk outside their office, they would hear those threats as personal. And most likely they would hear them as threatening or inciting violence. That’s how any American would interpret those words if they were directed at us. And that is certainly how the press and leading Democrats would have characterized them if President Trump or any senior Republican had said anything remotely similar. We have seen much more hay made out of much less.
‘Perhaps our colleague thinks this is absurd. Perhaps he would like the most generous possible interpretation: that he got carried away and did not mean what he said. But if he cannot even admit to saying what he said, we certainly cannot know what he meant.’
This part in particular hit the mark. McConnell made it clear that all of the hysterics and agitation employed by Democrats were little more than a thuggish attempt at extorting favorable decisions from the Supreme Court, using a phrase that no one could mistake:
And sadly, this attack was not some isolated incident. The left-wing campaign against the federal judiciary did not begin yesterday. My colleagues will recall that during the impeachment trial, the senior Senator for Massachusetts and outside pressure groups tried to attack the Chief Justice for staying neutral instead of delivering the outcomes they wanted. Those same groups came to Senator Schumer’s defense yesterday with gratuitous attacks against the Chief Justice for condemning the threats against his colleagues. And last summer, a number of Senate Democrats sent an extraordinary brief to the Supreme Court. It threatened to inflict institutional change on the Court if it did not rule the way Democrats wanted.
Here’s what they wrote: “The Supreme Court is not well… Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured’…”
A political threat, plain as day. As you read the document, you half-expected to end by saying: That’s some nice judicial independence you’ve got there. It would be a shame if something happened to it!
McConnell’s address was effective enough that even Schumer himself seems chastened … slightly. In a non-apology apology, Schumer admitted that “I should not have used the words I used yesterday,” but still insisted that he meant Republicans would suffer political consequences for pro-life legislation and court decisions. Here’s Chuck using the Gumpian variety of non-apology — it’s just that Kavanaugh and the G*****n pro-lifers:
“Now, I should not have used the words I used yesterday. They didn’t come out the way I intended to,” Schumer said Thursday morning. “My point was that there would be political consequences, political consequences for President (Donald) Trump and Senate Republicans if the Supreme Court, with the newly confirmed justices, stripped away a woman’s right to choose.”
Schumer did not appear to directly apologize, and instead accused Republicans of “gross distortion” and “manufacturing outrage.”
“Of course I didn’t intend to suggest anything other than political and public opinion consequences for the Supreme Court, and it is a gross distortion to imply otherwise. I’m from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language. I shouldn’t have used the words I did, but in no way was I making a threat. I never, never would do such a thing. And Leader McConnell knows that. And Republicans who are busy manufacturing outrage over these comments know that, too.”
I’ve come around to the idea that there’s legitimate outrage over these remarks as well as some manufactured outrage. However, no one has put together a coherent argument as to how Democrats have manufactured it better than McConnell does in this fifteen-minute floor speech. It’s a masterpiece of an argument, with the only missing element being the abject stupidity of Schumer howling at the Supreme Court for hearing an appeal brought by abortion providers to reverse the reinstatement of abortion restrictions in Louisiana.
Eh, we’ll save that one for Schumer’s re-election campaign.