Seven years later, with the Republicans now in the Senate majority, the opposition led by Mr. McConnell is as frontal as can be. After word of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death emerged last weekend, it took the majority leader less than an hour to announce that the Senate would not entertain a replacement before November. “This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” he said.
Mr. McConnell’s blunt declaration was taken as the starkest exhibition yet of the obstructionism that has characterized the Kentucky senator’s stance toward President Obama and congressional Democrats. The resistance from Mr. McConnell has had an enormous influence on the shape of Obama’s presidency. It has limited the president’s accomplishments and denied him the mantle of the postpartisan unifier he sought back in 2008. But it has also brought the Senate, the institution to which Mr. McConnell has devoted his life, close to rupture.
His declaration on the Supreme Court also represents a striking shift for the veteran politician. In throwing down the gauntlet so emphatically, and potentially riling up a Democratic electorate, Mr. McConnell was doing something deeply out of character: putting at risk his and his party’s prospects in the coming election.
Oh, the concern trolling is rich. Whenever the Times writes about something being potentially harmful for Republicans at the ballot box, one can almost be certain that it is quite the opposite. In fact, the GOP establishment has a unique opportunity to win back a lot of the conservative support that’s abandoned it if it remains strong now.
It is understandable that the Times is perplexed though. McConnell has long been driven by a fear of doing anything that would make the MSM not like him. It’s that trait that’s given us this surreal primary Trump-fest. We were all a pretty surprised when he quickly floated to the top of the jellyfish pool last Saturday and did his best impersonation of a politician with a spine.
If Mitch McConnell has been building up political capital beyond just winning the majority, this is not just the perfect, but the most important time he will most likely ever face to spend it.
When pressed in an interview this week as to whether McConnell would cave on this or not, I couldn’t give him a vote of confidence.
This is one time I’d LOVE to be proven wrong.