Who Will Pay for the Mess of the Kavanaugh Confirmation? All the Women.

The lawmaker who is likely to lose the most in this mess is Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, a red-state Democrat in a tough re-election race against Representative Kevin Cramer, who suggested that he’d vote for Justice Kavanaugh even if he had sexually assaulted Dr. Blasey.

.. Amy Chua, a professor at Yale Law School, became a target of social media scorn when The Guardian reported she told students that it was “not an accident” that Kavanaugh’s clerks “looked like models.” But that didn’t really spur a close look at Justice Kavanaugh’s hiring practices. Instead, Ms. Chua bore the brunt of the firestorm.

.. Ms. Chua and Lisa Blatt, a feminist attorney, have faced enormous pressure to denounce him, with reputational consequences that their male counterparts are unlikely to face.

.. A bigger man than Justice Kavanaugh would have apologized to Renate Schroeder Dolphin for turning her into a high school joke.

A more responsible Senate Judiciary Committee would have taken their claims seriously and demanded a thorough, fair investigation.

And all of us could direct the same energy and opprobrium that we level at moderate women at the men who prejudged the outcome of this process and proceeded accordingly.

This is the fight of our lives. Here’s how we win it.

Senators such as Donnelly, Heitkamp and Manchin need to argue to those who are ambivalent about abortion, or even against it, that right-wing judges would sanction a plutocratic government with little capacity to defend their interests.

.. “The Supreme Court, in case after case, is freely imposing its own view of sound public policy — not constitutional law, but public policy,” Biden told me at the time. “What is at issue here is a question of power, whether power will be exercised by an insulated judiciary or by the elected representatives of the people.”

..  Biden acknowledged that the phrase “judicial activism” has “often been used by conservatives to criticize liberal judges.” But “the shoe is plainly on the other foot: It is now conservative judges who are supplanting the judgment of the people’s representatives and substituting their own.”

“The existing Court’s assault on voting rights, collective bargaining and religious liberty is awful enough — just imagine how bad working people will have it if another right-wing justice joins the Court.” He warned of the court “taking a vicious, anti-worker, anti-women, anti-LGBT, anti-civil rights turn.”

.. The future of abortion rights is central to the coming battle. But so are civil rights, corporate power and our democratic capacity to correct social injustices. Conservatives should not be allowed to distract attention from the aspects of their agenda that would horrify even many who voted for Donald Trump.

The Cosmic Joke of Donald Trump’s Power

How much power will a president with such tenuous claim to it get to wield? How profound and durable an impact will such a shallow and fickle person make?

.. Donald Trump barely won the White House, under circumstances — a tainted opponent, three million fewer votes than she received, James Comey’s moral vanity and Russia’s amoral exertions — that raise serious questions about how many Americans yearned to see him there.

.. In his heart of hearts, he doesn’t give a damn about rolling back abortion rights. Any sane analysis of his background and sober read of his character leads to that conclusion. Yet this man of all men — a misogynist, a philanderer, a grabber-by-the-you-know-what — may be the end of Roe v. Wade.

.. So many of Trump’s positions, not just on abortion but also on a whole lot else, were embraced late in the game, as matters of political convenience. They were his clearest path to power. Then they were his crudest way to flex it.

.. Now they’re his crassest way to hold on to it. He will almost certainly move to replace Kennedy with a deeply, unswervingly conservative jurist not because that’s consistent with his own core (what core?) but because it’s catnip to the elements of his base that got him this far and could carry him farther.

.. Never mind how much it exacerbates this country’s already crippling political polarization

.. his is a moment, if ever there was one, to set a bipartisan example and apply a healing touch.

.. Trump will gladly cleave the country in two before he’ll dim the applause of his most ardent acolytes.

.. Get ready: He’ll crow and taunt. He’s already crowing and, characteristically, making Kennedy’s retirement all about him.

.. He will bully, both ideologically and tactically. And he will get his way, because — this is part of that cosmic joke — the advantages seem always to cut his way. The obstacles teeter and collapse.

.. Other presidents have had to worry about getting 60 votes in the Senate for Supreme Court nominations to proceed. Not Trump.

.. McConnell used the “nuclear option” once already, for Neil Gorsuch, rendering a Democratic filibuster irrelevant. So the precedent has been set.

.. In fact three of them — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — supported Gorsuch’s confirmation last year. It’s no accident that North Dakota, which Trump won by nearly 36 points, was the site of his rally on Wednesday night.

..  his sneering, gloating, uncompromising response to that aren’t a familiar combination.

.. It’s impossible to square the roughly 77,000 votes by which he won the Electoral College with the license that he has given himself and the rein that the members of his adopted party have given him.

.. the truth about Trump is the opposite of the story he tells. He points to Robert Mueller’s investigation and to negative media coverage and portrays himself as a modern-day martyr.

.. But he’s the luckiest man alive. Although he savaged the G.O.P. en route to its presidential nomination, he was greeted in Washington by a mum McConnell, a blushing Paul Ryan and a mostly obsequious Republican congressional majority.

.. with a handpicked replacement for Kennedy, he’d probably have “fewer checks on his power than any president in his lifetime

.. “The media, normally the last check on a president with total control of government, has lost the trust of most Republicans and many Democrats, after two years of Trump pummeling.”

.. That doesn’t account for a Democratic takeover of at least one chamber of Congress, the importance of which cannot be overstated.

.. conscience. A better man might shudder somewhat at the division that he was sowing and the wreckage in his wake. Trump merely revels in his ability to pull off what nobody thought he could. Shamelessness is his greatest gift. How unfunny is that?

Trump Gets Chance to Influence American Life for Generations Through Supreme Court Pick

As the first Republican president to get his judicial nominees confirmed by a simple majority vote, thanks to the abolition of the Senate filibuster rule, Mr. Trump has already broken records in appointing young and highly conservative appellate judges. Now, Mr. Trump can create a new majority bloc on the Supreme Court — one that is far more consistently conservative, and one that can impose its influence over American life long after his presidency ends on issues as diverse as the environment and labor or abortion and civil rights.

If Mr. Trump secures that prospect, he will fulfill the deal that he struck during the 2016 campaign with traditional and movement conservatives who were skeptical of his politics and hesitant about supporting his candidacy. They feared he would pick an idiosyncratic nominee, like a celebrity lawyer he saw on television, rather than an authentic conservative.

But Mr. Trump shored up Republican turnout in the election by promising to select Supreme Court nominations from a list of conservative judges. It was shaped by his top legal adviser, Donald F. McGahn II, now the White House counsel, who worked with advisers like Leonard Leo, the executive director of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal movement network.

.. joking shorthand for what traditional Republicans got in return: “But Gorsuch.” In November, the White House quietly issued a revised version of the list in case another vacancy arose.

.. “The danger is that the Supreme Court, at the behest of this president, will favor the wealthy and powerful and extremist groups at the expense of everyone else — not just for President Trump’s term, but for decades to come,” she said.

.. The prospects for the nominee’s confirmation will most likely come down to how a handful of moderate senators will vote. Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, both Republicans who support abortion rights, are considered key votes in a narrowly divided Senate, as are Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, all Democrats up for re-election in states that Mr. Trump won.

.. the Trump administration’s recent indication that it will try to use the courts to dismantle the law’s popular protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

.. “People get that this is about undoing precedent and advancing the interests of corporations and the wealthy and privileged, not all of us as Americans.”

.. Adding to the court a pick from Mr. Trump’s list creates the “prospect of a conservative majority over a long period of time,” even if Mr. Trump loses to a Democrat in 2020 who could restock the court’s liberal minority

.. he was optimistic that the fight over the new vacancy would help Republicans maintain control of the Senate in the midterm elections by keeping the courts as a primary topic of political conversation in the coming months.

.. Mr. Trump to create an even more enduring achievement if a liberal justice’s seat opened, perhaps for health reasons, in the second half of his term

 

On Health Care, a Promise, Not a Threat

McConnell warns GOP senators they may end up having to work with the Democrats. They should.

The failure so far of Senate Republicans to agree on a health-care bill provides an opening. Whatever happens the next few days, moderates and centrists on both sides can and should rise, name themselves, and start storming through.
.. The party is undergoing a populist realignment, with party donors, think-tankers and ideologues seeing things more or less one way, and the Trump base, including many Democrats, seeing them another.
.. He has impulses and sentiments but is not, as the French used to say, a serious man.

.. Many Republican senators see that the American people are not in the mood for tax cuts to the comfortable and coverage limits on the distressed. Democratic senators, on the other hand, are increasingly aware that ObamaCare is not viable, and in some respects is on the verge of collapse.This gives both parties motives to join together and make things better.

.. Republicans believe they must repeal ObamaCare because they’ve long promised to do so. Keeping promises, especially in our untrusting political climate, is a good thing. But polling suggests America isn’t eager that promise be wholly kept

.. Republican Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said on Fox News Wednesday night: “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and work with the Democrats.” Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin says it’s a ‘mistake’ to attempt a partisan fix. Democrat Joe Manchin, also of West Virginia, says he’s “ready” for a bipartisan effort. The New York Times reports senators from both parties met privately weeks ago to discuss core issues. Mr. Manchin was there along with Democrats Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Among the Republicans were Sens. Capito and Collins, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

.. Every president until Barack Obama knew this. He bullied through ObamaCare with no Republican support, and he did it devilishly, too, in that he created a bill so deal-laden, so intricate, so embedding-of-its-tentacles into the insurance and health systems, that it would be almost impossible to undo. He was maximalist.

.. Here is a thing that would help: a little humility from the Democrats, and a little humanity.

.. ObamaCare has big flaws—always did. It was an imperfect piece of legislation and it’s done some things my party said wouldn’t happen, such as lost coverage and hiked deductibles.

.. The Democratic Party made this mess. It’s on them to help dig out of it. If they show some humility, Republicans would look pretty poor in not responding with their own olive branch.

.. When it’s over, use whatever words you want: “We forced Democrats to admit the bill was flawed and dying.” “We forced Republicans to back down.”