Murkowski on Trump: I know Alaska better than he does

Murkowski on Trump: I know Alaska \better than he does\
Mitch McConnell Is Going to Kill the United States Senate
After a series of gut-wrenching moments, intense and emotional exchanges, and by far the weirdest hearing I have ever seen on Capitol Hill, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as the newest justice of the Supreme Court.

Only that wasnt the end of the matter. Kavanaugh then went to the White House to partake in a fake swearing-in ceremony that—because Donald Trump has to be Donald Trump—had all the hallmarks of a political rally.

They instead devoted their press conference to a just-defeated measure that would have blocked the Trump administration from allowing states to offer short-term, minimal health insurance policies. Democrats called the plans junk, while proponents say the plans offer a temporary, affordable health insurance alternative for those priced out of the marketplace.

Sitting in the front row at that ceremony, taking it all in, was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), which was appropriate since all of this—the weird hearing, the subtle dismissal of victims of sexual assault, the secrecy around the nominees record—was his doing. He is the maestro of moving judicial nominees through the Senate, and Kavanaugh was a prime testament to McConnells ruthless, amoral pursuit of that singular mission.

Video: McConnell warns targeting Trump could hurt Dems

For those who have been in the trenches fighting against McConnell (and Im one of them, having served as former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reids top communications hand), his success is undeniable. Single-minded in his pursuit of political power, imaginative in his choice of tactics, and emotionless to his core, he practiced Obamas no drama mantra years before it became associated with the 44th president. And because of it, our judiciary will bear the imprint of his efforts decades after he leaves office.

But Democrats would rather talk about healthcare, and some of the same polls point to why. Healthcare ranks first, or very high on the list of top voter issues according to many polls, and Democrats have begun touting Obamacare again after years of distancing themselves from the law, and after new polls show Obamacare is becoming more popular.

But, and this is very important, that wont be McConnells sole or even his most important legacy. Indeed, when history is written on McConnells tenure as Republican leader, there will be a more profound and unsettling conclusion: McConnell broke the Senate and hurt the country, and the sad fact is that he couldnt care less.

The insurance companies say jump, our Republican friends say how high, Schumer said. Theyll do nothing to protect people, only to protect the insurance companies. Democrats are fighting for quality, affordable healthcare and come Nov. 6, the difference between the parties on healthcare will be crystal clear.

This so-called institutionalist who expresses such devotion to the Senates traditions and the working people of Kentucky is, on these fronts, a fraud. That McConnell exists only in the imaginations of the reporters that write glowing profiles about the brilliant means and Machiavellian mind-set he employs while giving short shrift to the damaging ends he pursues.

For all the noise of the 24-hour news cycle, there is one issue above any other that is going to define the results of the Nov. 6 election and that is healthcare, and that is why we felt it was so important to get the issue before the American people today, said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

The reality is that for him politics is all about winning. The idea that a leader would work to bridge the differences between the two parties in order to try and improve the country is a foreign concept to him. Everything is a zero-sum game. He is a man of no conviction except for a pursuit of power at all costs.

Polls give conflicting information when it comes to how the party fares in the wake of the Kavanaugh nomination. A CNN/SSRS poll this week found critical independent voters disapprove of how Democrats handled the nomination by a 28-point margin.

I had a ringside seat for all of this when I was working in Senator Reids office for six years. The economy was in a free fall and millions of Americans were hurting. So what did McConnell do? He used every tool available to him as Republican leader to block Obamas efforts to address this suffering and indicated his opposition to the newly elected presidents agenda for good measure. It was one thing for him to declare famously that his whole goal was to make sure that Obama was a one-term president (obviously he failed) but it was another thing to watch him try to round up the votes to filibuster virtually every piece of legislation we brought to the floor.

Video: McConnell: Senate not broken in Kavanaugh wake

The same pattern was there regarding judges. McConnells entire objective was to simply block what Obama or Democrats put forward, especially during Obamas second term in office. Its the reason there were so many judicial vacancies available for Trump to fill.  

Democrats didnt bring up Kavanaughs confirmation, after all, but one in their caucus voted against him. Kavanaugh narrowly won confirmation on Saturday after a weekslong fight from Democrats to delay or derail him.

McConnells defenders will say that he was just doing what any opposition leader would do in that position. But the truth is, it was not standard fare. And he did it, in part, to ensure his own survival. In 2012, when his leadership position was threatened by an insurgent Tea Party, McConnell capitulated. Rather than questioning some of the movements more extreme views, which ran contrary to his public record to that point, he appointed a Ron Paul staffer to run his re-election campaign. It was not a profile in courage.

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That was just the first act. For his next one, he cooked up a false argument to keep Judge Merrick Garland, Obamas pick for the Supreme Court, bottled up in committee, never even giving the president a courtesy of a hearing. He followed that up with his handling of Kavanaugh, which was breathtaking in its audacity: from the shielding of records to the limiting of the scope of the investigation into allegations of sexual assault.

Theres a Silver Lining to Brett Kavanaugh Joining the Supreme Court

After watching all that, no one should have been surprised to hear McConnell declare this week that despite how hed bottled up Garlands nomination, the standard set then wouldnt necessarily apply to Donald Trump. In an all-too-typical display of hypocrisy, McConnell left open the possibility of confirming another Supreme Court justice during the 2020 presidential elections if a vacancy occurred and Republicans still controlled the Senate. McConnell had some ready-made rationalization for why this was within the norms and traditions of the Senate—when, in reality, it was anything but that.

But thats just McConnell. While he may be imaginative when it comes to using power, he also a leader with little or no concern for the collateral damage his methods inflict on the Senate and our political system.  

Both sides’ consultants say initial polling shows newfound enthusiasm among conservatives, who until the court fight were far less excited about voting than their liberal, anti-Trump counterparts. The big question, they agree, is whether conservative enthusiasm will last until Nov. 6 or fade away, victim to the historic pattern of midterm congressional losses by the party holding the White House and the ever-changing parade of distracting controversies prevalent under Trump.

Our mid-terms forecast for the House of Representative

Henry Clay, whose seat he holds, and who brokered bipartisan deals in hopes of keeping the union together, once observed the time will come when Winter will ask you what what you were doing all Summer. I am not sure Clay would approve of how McConnell has used this summer.

But by pushing ahead, Democrats made Republicans cast a health care vote that Democrats could wield in campaign ads for next month’s midterm elections, in which they hope to topple the GOP’s 51-49 Senate majority. The vote was also aimed at refocusing people away from the Senate’s nasty battle over confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, which both sides say has transformed indifferent conservative voters into motivated ones — for now.

Video: McConnell: Gender gap wider than it used to be

AP Photo/David Goldman AP Photo/David Goldman X Story Stream recent articles Video: Global Warming Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit … Article: Global Warming Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit … Article: Global Warming Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit … Entry: Global Warming Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit … Video: Global Warming Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit … What if the blue wave is merely a blue ripple? What if it doesn’t even make it to shore? With the “Kavanaugh effect,” there are signs the Democratic Party should be worried about the midterms, and if we fall short, there will be a party civil war.

In a return to its characteristically more unruffled mode of work, the Senate on Wednesday rejected a Democratic attempt to stop President Donald Trump from expanding access to short-term health care plans, which offer lower costs but skimpier coverage. It was clear Democrats would lose, and a real victory was never feasible since the measure would have died anyway in the Republican-run House.

It all seems so familiar now. Pundits on television telling us in unison it’s a near certainty.  President Obama, Vice President Biden, Hillary Clinton, and many other party luminaries and celebrities out energizing the base, even in red states. A hotly contested vacancy on the Supreme Court. Confident projections from the safe confines of the Beltway that a blue wave is coming. 

Was Susan Collinss “Yes” Vote the GOPs Final Surrender to Trump?

The blue wave didn’t come then. As hard as it may be to imagine, and against all hopes, what happens if it doesn’t this year either?

The administration says premiums for the new short-term plans will be around one-third the cost of comprehensive coverage that Obama’s law requires. Republicans have promoted them as a low-cost option for strapped consumers after years of steadily rising premiums, which they blame on Obama’s law, and GOP candidates will be happy to use Wednesday’s vote to make that point.

Regardless of how many reputable pollsters and number crunchers project the speaker of the House’s gavel going to Nancy Pelosi and Democrats gaining seats in the Senate, perhaps even enough to gain the majority there, the party would be well-advised to guard against the last minute complacency that sunk its hopes in 2016. With less than four weeks to go until ballots are cast, there are signs that the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans has closed in the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s ugly nomination fight and subsequent confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On its face, Wednesday’s fight was over repealing Trump’s new rules. But practically speaking, it served to renew attention on the overall issue of health care, which polling shows ranks at the top of the public’s priorities and has been a major concern for voters for over a decade.

Senate blocks Democratic bid to overturn Trump health care rule

The wrenching drama of the Kavanaugh hearings injected a new sense of urgency in the left’s activist base. But it has also stirred emotions on the right, something that conservative media from Fox News to talk radio has stoked in an effort to create an alternate reality that the accusations were fabricated and a George Soros-engineered political attack, or in Donald Trump’s words, “a hoax.” Nothing could be further from the truth, but it doesn’t matter to the Republican base, which is now far more energized than these voters were only two weeks ago.  New NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist polling suggests the enthusiasm gap between the parties has dropped from a 10-point Democratic advantage to a dead heat as of this week.

It’s hard to know exactly how the dynamics of Kavanaugh’s politics play out for midterm voter models, but if nothing else, the “Kavanaugh effect” of inspiring a higher GOP turnout now takes the U.S. Senate out of play as red state Democrats — including North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp and Texas’ Beto O’Rourke, who were surging until the hearings — now face uphill battles.  

Democrats push health care vote ahead of midterm elections

All of this to say that a Democratic victory in the midterms is far from a sure bet. And if Democrats falter and fail to live up to expectations for the second national election in a row, we can say goodbye to the party as we’ve known it. For decades, I have worked for my party at various levels. Among other positions, I was co-chairman of the National Finance Committee for John Kerry in 2004, was on the Obama-Biden transition team in 2008, a member of the Obama Inaugural Committee, and a Pennsylvania elector in 2012.  I’ve attended every Democratic National Convention since 1976.

How Will the Kavanaugh Battle Affect the Gender Gap for the Midterms?

As Democrats, we’ve had hard-fought primary battles this year – there’s never been a time when we haven’t. And the results have cut both ways, most recently in New York where establishmentarian Andrew Cuomo defeated left-leaning TV star Cynthia Nixon while five incumbent centrist state senators lost their jobs to aggressive progressive Dems. But at the same time, I’ve never seen a period where the party’s rank-and-file has been more united, progressives and establishment folk, moderates and conservatives in service to one goal – stopping the obscene overreach of the Trump administration. That unity collapses on Nov. 6 if we do not win control of the House of Representatives, if we lose seats in the Senate, or we fall short in governor’s races. 

All of that could happen. It’s conceivable that Republicans can mobilize just enough of their base to cling to a slender majority in the House. It’s conceivable, and in some scenarios even likely, that Republicans will gain a seat or two, or even three, in the U.S. Senate. We might lose high-profile governor’s races in places like Florida and Georgia, where African-American candidates are currently surging. What then? 

Bye, Bye, Leadership. First, the Democratic Party’s leadership will face a dramatic reckoning. Ever since Bernie Sanders fell short in 2016, with his supporters claiming the nominating process had been “rigged,” millions of members of our party have viewed Washington’s leaders with growing unease. A victory will provide a needed salve; a loss would tear open the wound beyond repair. Fairly or unfairly, every person in a leadership position in the Democratic House and Senate would feel the brunt. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, in particular, would feel the the full rebellion. The shocking primary victory of a candidate like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who toppled Rep. Joe Crowley — long rumored to be a future House speaker — would be the trend, not the aberration. 

Not Your Father’s Democratic Party. Second, the Democratic Party would become unrecognizable. The left wing of the party will no longer be content with an uneasy alliance with experienced party regulars. The vast majority of candidates will now be talking about once fringe positions such as banning guns, abolishing ICE and huge redistributions of wealth. This will make it even harder for the party to make inroads beyond its coastal bases and give the Trump version of the Republican Party a real hold on Middle Americans wary of taking a chance on more extreme lefty Democrats.

Trump Unchained. Think Donald Trump can’t get more unbearable? Just wait until his party shocks the world again. Some of Trump’s wilder impulses have been restrained by advisers warning him that reckless actions could imperil control of Congress this November. Feeling himself politically invincible, the president will no longer listen to them. Goodbye, Jeff Sessions.  Goodbye, Rod Rosenstein. Goodbye, WTO. Goodbye, United Nations. Oh, and goodbye, Bob Mueller.   

Mueller’s Dud. If Democrats fall short again, Robert Mueller could produce images of Trump receiving paychecks from Vladimir Putin and Trump would still survive impeachment in Congress. There would be no meaningful investigations and oversight of Trump’s behavior by the House of Representatives, no subpoenas issued to various Trump organizations to glean more information about allegations of corruption, no oversight of Cabinet officials, an extraordinary number of whom have already been accused of graft. Trump would have a “get out of jail free” card – and he will use it.

Republicans Compete to Kiss the Ring. The dirty little secret of Washington is that most, if not all, Republicans in Congress privately think Trump is an unguided missile of nonsense with a dangerous splash of crazy. But if his party – and it’s his party now, win or lose – continues to demonstrate some magical hold on voters, Republican officeholders are going to follow his playbook without criticism or complaint. The devolution from the party of Lincoln to a cult of personality will be complete.

In the middle of a national emergency: Law students strike in opposition to Kavanaugh

Ever since I became involved in party politics, I have heard one candidate or another proclaim that whatever election is next is the most important in our country’s history. I’ve probably made the proclamation myself, maybe more than once. But if that statement were ever true, it’s in 2018.  The future of this country, in a very real and terrifying way, is riding on the blue wave that we can just start to see from the shore. We cannot afford for it to become a ripple.

Mark Alderman served on the Kerry for President and Obama for America national finance committees and the Obama-Biden presidential transition team, and is currently chairman of Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies.

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