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Smerconish Pretends McConnell Would Have Played Nice If Dems Didn't Filibuster

CNN's Michael Smerconish and former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson attack the Democrats for filibustering Gorsuch and pretend that Mitch McConnell wouldn't have used the nuclear option to get another right wing judge on the Supreme Court later on if the Dems had just kept their powder dry this time around.
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If there's one thing you can be sure of from our corporate media, it's no bad deed from Republicans ever goes unrewarded. No one would ever take their party to task for the record amount of obstruction we saw under President Obama, whether it was his judicial nominations, cabinet appointments, or his legislative agenda. Republicans were never going to cooperate with him on anything, whether it was legislation they previously supported, or nominees that under any other circumstance should have been perfectly acceptable to them. They were bound and determined to destroy his presidency at every turn and act as a blockade and the party of no for the eight years he was in office.

Now, of course, they're in power, and rather than abide by the same rules they expected Democrats to live under, they're ready to blow up the joint to get their way, which we just saw with Mitch McConnell being all too willing to get rid of the filibuster to get their judicial appointment jammed through the Senate, and you can be damned sure that if Democrats had cooperated with him now and allowed Gorsuch through with no filibuster, that would not have meant we'd see a more moderate pick from Trump the next time around.

Don't be surprised if they get rid of the filibuster as soon as they don't get their way on tax reform cuts for the rich that they're hoping to get passed before the year is over.

Don't tell that to CNN's Michael Smerconish and former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, a.k.a. Mr. Fix-the-Debt on the backs of Social Security recipients, who joined Smerconish this Saturday to pine for the days when everyone supposedly got along before the Kenyan usurper came along and tried to jam Mitt Romney's Republican health care plan down all of their throats and forced poor old McConnell to declare his number one goal was to make him a one term president.

Smerconish wants us all to believe McConnell would have played nice with the Dems the next time around if they'd just given him exactly what he wanted this time. McConnell's given the Democrats no reason to believe he'd ever bargain with them in good faith and offered no such assurances to them on this filibuster as to what he'd do the next time around, but let's blame the Democrats anyway for his decision to get rid of the filibuster.

Transcript via CNN:

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: First of all, the conservative Gorsuch now replaces the conservative Scalia, so the balance of power on the court is not going to shift. It will still be 4-4 with Justice Anthony Kennedy casting the deciding vote.

As the rules stood, supporters of a Supreme Court nominee needed 60 votes to confirm a nominee by first shutting down the filibuster. This filibuster, it really wasn't about Judge Gorsuch but about President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland and the way he was treated by the Republicans who wouldn't give him a hearing, much less a vote. And I get, the idea that a president with a year left in office cannot nominate a Supreme Court justice, that's unprecedented and obstructionist.

But Democrats fired and wasted the last weapon in their arsenal and here's why -- because where this time the Republicans didn't have the 60 votes they needed to shut down the filibuster, they changed the rules, as Mitch McConnell said that they would. The so-called nuclear option was invoked and the filibuster and thus the nomination only required a simple majority.

But looking forward, remember this: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 84 years old. Justice Breyer is 78. Justice Kennedy is 80 and I hope they each live to 150.

But should any of their seats require filling on the watch of President Trump, he'll get to replace a liberal or a moderate with a conservative, and that's when the balance of power in the Supreme Court is really going to shift. If the Democrats had ended the Gorsuch filibuster without forcing the nuclear option, that issue would be preserved for the next vacancy when it really might matter, and there would have been much more public interest and outcry when the outcome of cases like Roe v. Wade could hang in the balance.

My point is, I think it was far easier for the Republicans to change the rules when it's just judge Gorsuch replacing Scalia than it would be in the future when the balance of power is up for grabs. President Trump might have chosen a more moderate justice just to get that person through the approval process. The Democrats made their point about Merrick Garland, then they overplayed a losing hand that could last until they regain control of the Senate, whenever that might be.

Here to discuss, former three-term Republican senator from the great state of Wyoming, Alan Simpson, who served on the Judiciary Committee during his 18 years in the Senate. Senator, what do you make of my thesis that the D's overplayed their hand?

ALAN SIMPSON (R),FORMER WYOMING SENATOR: I think I give you an "A", I would give you an "A". No question, as an old professor.

Let me tell you, you described it well. But let me tell you, it really isn't a nuclear option. It's a special belch option. They never used that before. Look at Clarence Thomas. He was confirmed by a vote of 52-48. We never heard of a filibuster.

I, in my 18 years, put seven of the nine men and women on the court. I didn't care what party they were in or their ideological efforts. It was, are they good lawyers, do they have a judicial temperament, are they smart? And I voted for seven of the nine before I left the shop down there.

This is madness. And guess what? Talk about what's that wonderful phrase, hoist on his own petard, which means blown up by your own bomb, and that's Schumer. When he -- he's a good egg. He's a good legislator. He legislates well. I worked with him and I liked him.

But when he got into the leadership, he somehow got twisted up with the Elizabeth Warren wing and you don't want to get over there too far, and he's being pushed, pushed, pushed. He's not good at this. And guess what, when he came to the Senate he had the brilliant idea to say, look, let's start filibustering lower court judges. He tried that and he failed.

And now, he must have been sitting there like he had swallowed a hockey puck watching this thing happen to him, and it will happen again. You have described it so well. It isn't just this one.

And he made the effort, he said let's take him out of there and get another one here, we'll all work together. I thought, oh, that's rich. They wouldn't have taken anyone. The gut hard stuff --

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: I remember --

SIMPSON: They refused (INAUDIBLE)

Go ahead.

SMERCONISH: Senator, I remember when you were able to work, even though ideologically you were at polar option, I remember when you were able to work with Senator Ted Kennedy.

Here's my question, two-parter. When did it all go to hell in a hand basket, and how do we get back civility?

SIMPSON: It went to hell in a hand basket when the people who had been in the House, legislators in the House, had been under control of one party for 40 years. In that situation, even the slaves get tired of the masters and the masters get tired of beating the slaves and it was a terrible situation.

Republicans were always viciously opposing whoever was in the leadership of the House. So, they said I'm going to get the hell out of here, I'm going to go to the Senate. And they brought the venom to the Senate.

I could name both party people, parties who came to the Senate and said, now, we're over here where we can take on the Republicans or the Democrats, and it began to disassemble.

And the coin of the realm there is trust. Trust not just with the opposition party but in your own party. Now, the coin is severely tarnished. There is no trust. There's no trust within parties. There's no trust across the aisle.

Ted Kennedy was a great guy in my mind. I didn't judge his lifestyle. I don't give a damn about that. I'm not into that game. There's a bigger judge in that somewhere in the world, in the cosmos.

All I cared about was when he shook my hand and said, look, I'm with you or I'm against you, and he never broke his word once with me.

To me, it didn't matter. All the rest of it meant nothing to me. Keep your word, and he did. We had a lot of fun together too.

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