Moscow Mitch’s jaw-dropping theater of the absurd
William Hazlitt: “The only vice which cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy” That’s why hypocrisy is joined at the hip to notorious cousins: predation, fraud, and knavery. Hannah Arendt nails it, “The hypocrite’s crime is that he bears false witness against himself.” Rank stupidity (like Trump’s) doesn’t quite compete because world-class hypocrites fail if they don’t present plausible stances—vs. the Liar-in-chief’s crude deceptions that torpedo his own fraudulence.
Unlike such lying, hypocrisy must, like an underground fire, cover itself with virtue before it’s then exposed as contradiction and betrayal. Aware of their ploys, great hypocrites hustle with subtlety, by necessity obscuring immorality, incompetence, or callousness. One trick, Trump-types, awash with reflexive lying, display the same scurrilous person inside and out. No wonder Trump and Mitch McConnell can’t stand each other: they honor different devils.
Thus emerges the Hypocrite of the Age: Top national Rethuglican, Senator McConnell. Only last week I railed against the top GOPer (the icon of special big business interests) for his farcical theater—shocked, shocked that wary corporations could not abide wholesale, rightwing voter suppression in Georgia. Without missing a beat this week comes a follow-up whopper when Moscow Mitch coughed up that Biden’s rather limp, 36 member (!) Supreme Court Commission “fits squarely within liberals’ years-long campaign to politicize the Court.” Squarely? Liberals’? Years-long campaign? Politicize? What minds are left boggle in hysterics.
A despicable judicial snub for the ages
With unmatched mastery in politicizing the federal judiciary, McConnell wedged through more rightwing judges in the last four years than anyone thought possible. Two ignoble Supreme justices owe their suspect elevation to McConnell. Nothing is sacred for this double-dealer who degraded court justice as just another power play in which the awful end justifies dishonorable means. No other American politician dared refuse for eight months even a hearing for Obama’s mandated Merrick Garland nomination, thus blocking the most important Constitutional privilege awarded every president: to pick high court judges.
Is there any doubt this indefensible manipulation stands among the most corrupt Senate moves in history, a complete sabotage of procedural justice? Not only did McConnell block Obama’s right but ended up installing Neil Gorsuch, an unsavory, regressive rightwing choice who will rule for decades. Staining both the country and the Supreme Court, McConnell fabricated a stolen payoff, one-ninth of the Court, for rightwing ideologues. Prior attempts to “pack the Court” (though legal) pale compared to this outlandish maneuver, all the worse because it succeeded (thus Justice Gorsuch). This disgrace left the Court neutralized for a year, without a clear majority, thus critical decisions were postponed. Is this entire sequence not a high crime from McConnell, worthy of impeachment for dishonoring history by “gerrymandering” the high court? As the Wash Post summarized, “Garland will be remembered as the Supreme Court nominee who dangled in the wind for eight months in 2016, waiting for a Senate hearing that never came. To Democrats, it was an outrage and a raw display of political power. To Republicans, it was an election-year gamble that paid off.” Almost as bad is what McConnell had to do to deliver, per NPR, “Senate Pulls ‘Nuclear’ Trigger To Ease Gorsuch Confirmation.”
More manipulation & Justice Barrett outrage
So, on top of the atrocious Garland postponement, McConnell sidetracked the 60 vote filibuster rule on top court picks with a “nuclear” Senate change: a simple majority to approve Supreme Court justices. That is a big deal as there were not 60 votes for the incredibly unpopular Gorsuch, both as a judge and a slippery character. McConnell’s filibuster ploy is all the more outrageous considering today’s righteous, rightwing defenses of the hallowed 60 vote margin. Thus was the Constitution and the Senate degraded, Garland robbed and Gorsuch awarded a lifetime appointment. And now Mr. Court Manipulation has the infinite gall to posit (despite all appearances to the contrary) that Biden is the culprit politicizing the Supreme Court. Such disgrace matches the worst of Trumpism – though his sins 95% of the time were more about noise than direct national impacts.
Next chapter on epic McConnell hypocrisy involved the 11th hour (of the Trump presidency) assault on justice and fairness, if not grade-school consistency. That’s when McConnell pushed through Amy Coney Barrett after Justice Ginsberg died only weeks before the upcoming 2020 election. So much for McConnell’s hypocritical betrayal of his holier-than-thou Garland stance: “it’s too close to the next election to pick a new justice. Let the people decide. Why rush the approval?” McConnell pretense was on full and unmitigated display when he saw a tiny opening to anoint Barrett (another unpopular, minority justice at odds with the voting majority) to fill Ginsberg’s empty chair.
P.S. Biden’s proposed Supreme Court commission “may be a dud,” or more about appearance than highly justified Supreme Court reform. Per Ian Millhiser in Vox and Jonathan Turley in The Hill, no strong proponents of Supreme Court reform populates this commission. Clearly, the White House “prioritized bipartisanship and star power within the legal academy over choosing people who have actually spent a meaningful amount of time advocating for Supreme Court reforms,” Millhiser writes. Hell, members of the rightwing Federalist Society approved commission choices, signaling it’s paper tiger status.
This reality only reinforces the utter absurdity, and worse, of
Moscow Mitch attacking Biden for politicizing the court. Even if
he did nothing else for the next three years, Biden could not
approach the iniquity of the McConnell rampage against justice,
tradition, and majority interests of a vast majority. McConnell
didn’t just politicize the selection of justices – he corrupted
the entire process, thus empowering suspect, undeserving Supreme
Court justices until they die or resign, long after Mitch is
gone, even in his grave. I call that “Supreme hypocrisy” and I
expect historians to agree.