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What If Mitch McConnell Can't 'Own The Libs' This Time?

For the conservative base, Kavanaugh is now about "owning the libs," and Mitch McConnell knows the power that lives in those words.
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[Above: Mitch McConnell in August of 2016, bragging about telling Barack Obama to his face that the SCOTUS seat will not be filled.]

Nate Silver says:

Silver is responding to this analysis by Hot Air's Allahpundit:

Does McConnell Still Want This Nomination To Proceed?

... McConnell is a bottom-line guy.... in the end, it matters less to him which conservative gets to fill a SCOTUS vacancy than that *some* conservative does. He preferred Raymond Kethledge or Tom Hardiman....

McConnell is keenly aware, I’m sure, that Republicans are getting blitzed by women voters already in midterm polling. Anything that exacerbates that, like, say, Trump swiping at an alleged rape victim repeatedly for days on Twitter, will make the party’s electoral prospects worse. Meanwhile, the GOP’s chances of nominating and confirming a replacement for Kavanaugh before Election Day if he implodes this week grow slimmer by the hour....

All of this is a long way of speculating whether, in his heart of hearts, he wouldn’t prefer to have the nomination yanked and to proceed with alacrity on the confirmation of a replacement.... The process needs to start immediately, though. Assuming it’s not too late already.

McConnell is in a tough spot here, but I think he has to stay the course and hope Kavanaugh squeaks by, because if he doesn't, the Republican base will go into the midterms knowing that, at a crucial moment, libs were not owned. Lib-owning is the most important goal of the Republican base; the failure to own libs is the worst possible failure.

The Kavanaugh nomination was being managed as if the point was to persuade liberals and moderates that it wasn't part of an ideological war while conservatives realized that it actually was. Kavanaugh wasn't supposed to alienate moderates, especially moderate women; his handlers incessantly promoted him as female-friendly (carpool dad! girls' basketball coach! adored by women who've worked with him, even the liberal ones!).


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But now that everyone knows we're in an ideological war, McConnell, on behalf of his troops, has to win -- the base won't accept failure. McConnell has to push Kavanaugh through because there's as much Democratic opposition as there is -- giving in would make him a cuck.

I think McConnell could achieve a significant amount of lib-owning if Kavanaugh were to withdraw and Amy Coney Barrett were to be appointed and approved in his place, because getting her approved would be seen as a blow to the hated Dianne Feinstein, whose remarks to Barrett when she was being considered as a lower-court judge were widely construed on the right as anti-Catholic. ("The dogma lives loudly within you" was the soundbite version of what Feinstein said; for more context, go here.) But McConnell is said to believe that Barrett is too obviously anti-abortion, which might inspire no votes from Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins. (As if.) A bigger problem, I think, is Barrett's membership in a Catholic group called People of Praise, which isn't quite a cult but isn't all that easily distinguished from one. (The women in it were literally referred to as "handmaidens" until recently.)

Get her through and you'll really own the libs -- but that might be hard with much of the country noticing her and her belief system for the first time. (And I suspect Trump wouldn't appoint her -- he clearly prefers High Court appointees who are male and Ivy Leaguers, and she's neither.)

Approving Kethledge or Hardiman wouldn't be big lib-owns after Kavanaugh's fall, so it's full steam ahead with Kavanaugh, at least for now.

Crossposted from No More Mister Nice Blog

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