Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight is litmus test for Republicans

Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight is litmus test for Republicans.

by Scott Jennings, Opinion contributor
More than anything else in the Trump era, the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation fight will be remembered as the ‘whose side are you on?’ moment.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announces support for Brett Kavanaugh on Senate floor, Oct. 5, 2018, Washington, D.C.
(Photo: Senate TV via AP)
On the Senate floor, where no one can interrupt you and commercial breaks aren’t a thing, Sen. Susan Collins stood alone. And she stood tall.

The Maine Republican’s floor speech announcing her vote for Brett Kavanaugh systematically dismantled every Democratic attack on the new Supreme Court justice and made a convincing case in favor of President Donald Trump’s highly qualified nominee.

Collins capped a team effort by the Republican Party to confirm Kavanaugh, one that united all wings, branches, genres and flavors of Republicans. There’s no better litmus test than this confirmation to figure out who remains a Republican and who doesn’t.

If you see a commentator claiming to be a “Republican” or “conservative” strategist supporting the liberal mob on this one, understand that they don’t represent conservatives or the Republican Party any longer. More than any other issue in the Trump era, Kavanaugh will be remembered as the “whose side are you on?” moment.

Senate moderates led the charge for Kavanaugh
Interestingly, it was the so-called moderate or establishment wing of the GOP that manned the front lines. Collins, oft derided as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by the conservative inquisitors at your local Tea Party meeting, delivered the felling stroke against the furious Democratic campaign.

Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a favorite conservative target for being pro-immigration reform, rallied the party faithful in his rousing committee speech (Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey claimed a Spartacus moment, or close to it, but Graham actually pulled it off).

Chuck Grassley, whom some conservatives wanted to dethrone as Judiciary Committee chairman in 2016, managed the process beautifully despite the unprecedented circus thrust upon his committee by Democrats Dianne Feinstein, Booker, Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono.

Even former President George W. Bush offered an assist, lobbing in calls to Collins and other Senate Republicans to reassure them about Kavanaugh. Truly, the entire band was back together.

And then there’s “Cocaine Mitch” McConnell, so dubbed by a losing Senate candidate McConnell opposed in West Virginia. The nickname has stuck and “Cocaine Mitch” memes are ubiquitous across conservative social media.

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McConnell’s steely leadership in a Senate that stands on a razor’s edge has erased any possibility that a Republican could ever again credibly challenge his conservative bona fides. McConnell has simultaneously fought the dumbest elements of the Tea Party and the Democratic Party for going on eight years; at this moment, he has bested them both.

Last November, President Trump’s dethroned strategist Steve Bannon told The New York Times, “I have an objective that Mitch McConnell will not be majority leader, and I believe will be done before this time next year.”

Eleven months later, McConnell stands triumphantly atop a pile of Trump victories, while Bannon lives in exile and the #MAGA crowd genuflects in front of its president’s cleverest executioner. A Trumpworld operative who tried to destroy McConnell admitted to Axios that the Senate majority leader is “a straight-up gangster.”

It would be an interesting result of this Kavanaugh business if the Republican Party decided to stop tearing itself apart, with the #MAGA crowd and the #NeverTrumpers ripping each other over style and tactics. Trump himself has a solid approval rating among the party faithful, and the Kavanaugh battle shows what conservatives can accomplish when they put their energy into fighting the liberal mob instead of into purging each other.

Even though the mob was beaten back this time, it will return more rageful and bloodthirsty than ever. Democrats revealed a scary vision for the future wherein the presumption of innocence means nothing and judgments will be rendered “in the context” of a person’s politics, as Hirono put it to Jake Tapper on CNN.

Democrats will plunge us into crisis
Liberal thought leader Markos Moulitsas issued an impeachment threat on Friday: “We’re not done with Kavanaugh, not by a long-shot. Like Trump, he’ll rue the day he gave up his sweet, safe gig, and let greed for power take him down.” Democrats will make Trump and Kavanaugh an impeachment double feature should they win the House.

Michael Avenatti, whom I believe is the 2020 Democratic front-runner for president, is making his court-packing plan (adding two seats to the Supreme Court to dilute the influence of Trump’s picks) a litmus test position for his party’s presidential primary.

In other words, Democrats may plunge the nation into any number of constitutional crises to satisfy a liberal base that has never accepted that elections have consequences. Their Trump-era overreaches have been muted because they are the minority party in Congress. Put them in charge, however, and there’s nothing stopping liberal Democrats from using their power to destroy any American that stands between them and their political goals.

Winston Churchill once said, “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.” The narrowly won 50-48 Kavanaugh fight has injected energy and camaraderie into a GOP suffering from complacency and internal discord. Rejuvenated conservatives have been reminded about what’s at stake, and to what depraved depths the liberal mob will sink to win.

Scott Jennings, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and former campaign adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is a partner with RunSwitch Public Relations in Louisville, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter: @ScottJenningsKY

USA Today · by Scott Jennings, Opinion contributor

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