Corey Lewandowski’s Self-Immolation

The former Trump campaign manager’s disastrous performance shows that impeachment hearings work.

This Is the World Mitch McConnell Gave Us

it is, essentially, a kind of shrine to the political career of Mr. McConnell, not unlike the exhibits on Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron you’d find at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

.. it memorializes a politician who shows no sign of leaving the stage any time soon.

.. What’s most unusual, though, is what it chooses to highlight. There are a few artifacts from Mr. McConnell’s youth — his baseball glove, his honorary fraternity paddle — but most of the exhibits are devoted to the elections Mr. McConnell won, starting with high school and on up through Jefferson County executive and the Senate.

.. When I visited the room while researching my 2014 biography on Mr. McConnell, I was struck by what was missing: exhibits on actual governing accomplishments from the Senate majority leader’s four decades in elected office.

That absence confirmed my thesis that Mr. McConnell, far more even than other politicians, was motivated by the game of politics — winning elections and rising in the leadership ranks, achieving power for power’s sake — more than by any lasting policy goals.

.. it is becoming increasingly clear that Mitch McConnell is creating a legacy for himself, and it’s a mighty grand one.

.. Mr. McConnell has created the world in which we are now living. Donald Trump dominates our universe — and now has the power to fill the second Supreme Court seat in two years. Mitch McConnell, who has promised a vote on whomever the president nominates “this fall,” is the figure who was quietly making it all possible

.. First, there was Mr. McConnell’s vigorous defense, going back to the early 1990s, of the role of big money in American politics

..  helping shape the conditions for his appeal.

.. he was well aware that he, as someone lacking in natural campaign talents, and the rest of the Republican Party, as more business-oriented than the Democrats, would need to maintain the flow of large contributions to be able to win elections. “I will always be well financed, and I’ll be well financed early,” he declared after winning his first race for county executive, in 1977.

.. culminated in the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling eliminating limits on corporate spending on elections, which Mr. McConnell followed up by blocking legislation to disclose the identity of large donors.

.. the spread of big money in politics had done so much to sour the public on government, creating a ripe target for the Tea Party and, later, for a billionaire populist running against “the swamp.”

.. laid the groundwork for the right-wing insurgency of 2009 and 2010

.. his decision to withhold Republican support for any major Democratic initiatives in the Obama years. This meant that Republicans had less influence on the final shape of legislation such as the Affordable Care Act than they would have had as fully willing negotiators.

.. fueled the rise of the Tea Party, which was motivated substantially by the notion that Mr. Obama was “ramming things down our throats”
.. his refusal to hold a confirmation hearing, let alone a vote on Merrick Garland, Mr. Obama’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, despite the fact that the nomination was made a full 10 months before the end of Mr. Obama’s term. This refusal exploded norms and dismayed Beltway arbiters who had long accepted Mr. McConnell’s claim to be a guardian of Washington institutions. It also provided crucial motivation to Republicans who had grave qualms about Mr. Trump but were able to justify voting for him as “saving Scalia’s seat.”
.. Mr. Obama had been prepared that September to go public with a C.I.A. assessment laying bare the extent of Russian intervention in the election. But he was largely dissuaded by a threat from Mr. McConnell.
.. During a secret briefing for congressional leaders, The Post reported, Mr. McConnell “raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.”
.. Mr. McConnell’s doing away last year with the 60-vote requirement for Senate confirmation, to get Neil Gorsuch seated
.. In the 1970s, when he ran for county executive in Louisville, he secured the pivotal endorsement of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. by pledging to back collective bargaining for public employees (a promise that went unfulfilled), and while in office he worked effectively behind the scenes to protect abortion rights locally.
.. Mr. McConnell saw the rightward swing of the Reagan revolution and decided to hop on board for his own political preservation as a Southern Republican. These days, Mr. McConnell has made explicit, with taunting tweets among other things, that he views long-term conservative control of the Supreme Court as his crowning achievement.
.. Holding a long-term majority on the court greatly aids his highest cause — Republican victories in future elections — as recent rulings on voting rights and gerrymandering demonstrated once again.
Whether Mr. McConnell decides to add an exhibit in the Civic Education Gallery documenting his role in the rise of Donald Trump is another matter. The final historical judgment on that score will not rest with him, in any case.

Mitch McConnell is winning the long game

McConnell says:

The largest tax reduction in 31 years has contributed to the best economy in 18 years. Defense spending is up, many Dodd-Frank banking rules and the Obamacare individual mandate have been repealed. Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, blocked for 38 years, has been approved, as has a reconfigured National Labor Relations Board, a source of much Obama administration mischief. The Congressional Review Act, under which Congress can disapprove many regulations issued by federal agencies, has been used 19 times since it was enacted in 1996 — 18 of them during this Congress.

.. This, says McConnell, constitutes the best 18 months of center-right governance in his Senate career, which began when Ronald Reagan’s second term did. There also are the judges.

.. By preventing a vote on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland

.. McConnell ended the requirement of a supermajority to stop filibusters of Supreme Court nominees

.. To prevent Republicans from reciprocating with filibusters against Obama’s packing-by-enlargement of the nation’s second-most-important court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Democrats changed Senate rules to bar filibusters of judicial nominees other than those for the Supreme Court. McConnell removed that pointless exemption to make possible the confirmation of Neil M. Gorsuch.

.. But without filibusters of legislation, he says, the nation might have socialized medicine, guaranteed government jobs, card-check workplace unionization, a ban on right-to-work laws, and other afflictions.

.. since popular election of senators began in 1914, Republicans have never had more than 60 senators.

.. Almost 30 years after the end of his presidency, Reagan still shapes events because of his nomination of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who often has been 20 percent of a court majority. Three decades from now, McConnell will be shaping the nation through judges who today are in their 40s, some of whom might be destined to be Gorsuch’s colleagues. This is the long game.

How the Republicans Broke Congress

Republican leaders have been blunt about their motivation: to deliver on their promises to wealthy donors, and down the road, to use the leverage of huge deficits to cut and privatize Medicare and Social Security.

.. the unexpected and rapid nature of the decline in American national politics, and how one-sided its cause.

.. the Republican Party — as an institution, as a movement, as a collection of politicians — that has done unique, extensive and possibly irreparable damage to the American political system.

Even today, many people like to imagine that the damage has all been President Trump’s doing — that he took the Republican Party hostage. But the problem goes much deeper.

.. we can’t help seeing the Republican Party as the root cause of today’s political instability. Three major developments in the party required us to change our view.

.. First, beginning in the 1990s, the Republicans strategically demonized Congress and government more broadly and flouted the norms of lawmaking, fueling a significant decline of trust in government

.. House Republicans showed their colors when they first blocked passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Plan, despite the urgent pleas of their own president, George W. Bush, and the speaker of the House, John Boehner. The seeds of a (largely phony) populist reaction were planted.

.. Second, there was the “Obama effect.”

.. we saw a deliberate Republican strategy to oppose all of his initiatives and frame his attempts to compromise as weak or inauthentic. The Senate under the majority leader Mitch McConnell weaponized the filibuster to obstruct legislation, block judges and upend the policy process. The Obama effect had an ominous twist, an undercurrent of racism that was itself embodied in the “birther” movement led by Donald Trump.

.. repeatedly promised the impossible under divided party government: that if they won, Mr. Obama would be forced to his knees, his policies obliterated and government as we knew it demolished. Their subsequent failures to do so spurred even more rage

.. Third, we have seen the impact of significant changes in the news media, which had a far greater importance on the right than on the left. The development of the modern conservative media echo chamber began with the rise of Rush Limbaugh and talk radio in the late 1980s and ramped up with the birth of Fox News. Matt Drudge, his protégé Andrew Breitbart and Breitbart’s successor Steve Bannon leveraged the power of the internet to espouse their far-right views. And with the advent of social media, we saw the emergence of a radical “alt-right” media ecosystem able to create its own “facts” and build an audience around hostility to the establishment, anti-immigration sentiment and racial resentment. Nothing even close to comparable exists on the left.

Mr. Trump’s election and behavior during his first 10 months in office represent not a break with the past but an extreme acceleration of a process that was long underway in conservative politics.

.. The Republican Party is now rationalizing and enabling Mr. Trump’s autocratic, kleptocratic, dangerous and downright embarrassing behavior in

.. hopes of salvaging key elements of its ideological agenda: cutting taxes for the wealthy (as part of possibly the worst tax bill in American history), hobbling the regulatory regime, gutting core government functions and repealing Obamacare without any reasonable plan to replace it.

.. The failure of Republican members of Congress to resist the anti-democratic behavior of President Trump — including holding not a single hearing on his and his team’s kleptocracy

.. Only conservative intellectuals have acknowledged the bankruptcy of the Republican Party.

Why does Trump keep getting basic facts wrong?

Three tweets from the past three days display this startling lack of knowledge.

.. Trump called on Republicans to get rid of the filibuster to pass two key pieces of the party’s agenda: “The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy.”

.. Trump called on Republicans to get rid of the filibuster to pass two key pieces of the party’s agenda: “The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy.”

The American Health Care Act — which Trump celebrated the House’s passage of with a big Rose Garden photo op — cuts Medicaid by more than $800 billion. Trump’s own budget adds another $600 billion in cuts on top of that. Again: Has his staff not briefed him what the AHCA does or what his budget calls for? Or has he been told and forgotten?

.. “We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change.”

.. But Germany, as a member of the European Union, can’t negotiate a trade deal with the United States by itself. As Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the very same day, “The E.U. is one of our largest trading partners, and any negotiations legally must be conducted at the E.U. level and not with individual nations.

.. When the German chancellor visited Washington in March, a senior German official told the Times of London that “Ten times Trump asked [Merkel] if he could negotiate a trade deal with Germany. Every time she replied, ‘You can’t do a trade deal with Germany, only the E.U..’ On the eleventh refusal, Trump finally got the message, ‘Oh, we’ll do a deal with Europe then.’ ” In other words, the head of another government corrected the president on a basic fact (after multiple efforts!) and within a few weeks, he is making the exact same mistake.

.. But there’s a third possibility: He was told, but he wasn’t listening. After all, Trump’s troubles with focus are well-known. The president’s attention span is so short that briefers have to insert his name more to keep his attention.

.. “My attention span is short,” he wrote in 1990.

Trump is now talking about consolidating his own power

“I think, you know, the filibuster concept is not a good concept to start off with,” he said.

So there you go. Trump is frustrated with the pace of legislation after 100 days, and his answer is that he wants to change the rules.

.. Whether this is just him blowing off steam or signaling what lies ahead, it’s significant. Because it suggests a president, yet again, who doesn’t agree with his own powers being limited or even questioned. Remember when senior policy adviser Stephen Miller declared “the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned?” This is more of that kind of attitude.

.. We’re a far cry from the presidential candidate who decried President Obama’s executive orders, suggesting they were an indication of a weak leader who couldn’t bend Congress to his will. Trump is now admitting that he can’t bend Congress to his will, but he blames the system rather than himself.

.. Whether he targets the filibuster specifically or not, his attitude toward his own power is clear: The more, the better. He’s already gotten a taste for rolling back the filibuster, and after just 100 days of frustration, he already wants more.

Mitch McConnell, the man who broke America

“No majority leader wants written on his tombstone that he presided over the end of the Senate,” the minority leader said.

.. Actually, they were uttered in 2013, by then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), when Democrats pushed through a similar filibuster change for lesser nominations.

That McConnell did a 180 on the topic — going from the institutional defender of the filibuster to the man who destroyed it — is unsurprising.

.. No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power.

.. Back in 1994, McConnell lamented to the conservative Heritage Foundation that Republicans hadn’t used the filibuster enough: “I am a proud guardian of gridlock. I think gridlock is making a big comeback in the country.”

.. By 2013, for example, 79 of Obama’s nominees had been blocked by filibusters, compared with 68 in the entire previous history of the Republic.

.. While other Republicans have at times been willing to criticize President Trump’s outrages, McConnell has been conspicuously quiescent. Although his predecessors at least attempted collegiality, McConnell practices no such niceties (recall his “nevertheless, she persisted” silencing of Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren).

.. asking for a vote on a debt-ceiling proposal and then trying to filibuster it;

.. Two years ago, when a Democrat was in the White House, McConnell said he would only abolish filibusters of Supreme Court justices if there were 67 votes for such a change. This week, he employed a maneuver to do it with 51 votes.