Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing a major condundrum: Should he now employ a tactic abused by his Democratic colleagues against them? Will the establishment Republican who has long prided himself in being an "institutionalist" and repeatedly denounced the "nuclear option" use it himself? If there's any political justice left, he will.
Back in 2013, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, frustrated by Republicans standing in the way of three of Obama's picks for the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C., went "nuclear" and employed a parliamentarian rule allowing confirmation of federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments via a simply majority rather than the usual 60-vote supermajority—which, the Washington Post noted then, "had been the standard for nearly four decades."
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The move exposed the Democrats' hypocrisy on their supposed championing of the minority. In response, McConnell blasted the tactic as a "power grab" and declared it a "sad day in the history of the Senate." He has since consistently expressed his distaste for the option.
Now McConnell faces a difficult decision, should he use the tactic he has so thoroughly decried? Most on the right say hell yes. The argument: dirty politics should have consequences. The Democrats must feel the consequences for having abused their power and forced their agenda. There's also another argument: With the way Democrats have responded to the election of Trump, the nuclear option might simply be the only true option.
The Democratic Party has quickly devolved into the hysterical Anti-Trump Party. Democrats repeatedly clutched their pearls and condemned Republicans every time they thwarted Barack Obama's terrible policies and ideologically driven nominations. But nothing the Republicans did over two full terms of Obama compare to what the Democrats have already done in less than two weeks of President Trump. They've protested; they've cried "Nazi" and "dictator"; they've pledged to block his every move. Democratic leaders have made clear that they are more than happy to be an obstructionist party, as Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and their ilk have broadcasted loud and clear.
So which way does McConnell appear to be leaning? Right now he's leaving the door open and talking tough about wanting Trump's Supreme Court nominee in place before April. Asked in an interview with Fox News Tuesday night whether he would invoke the option, McConnell demurred, saying, "I'm not going to answer that," but insisting that "We’re going to get the judge confirmed."
Let's hope he sees the situation for what it is: Democrats forcing his hand and having handed the Republicans the means to defeat