Seachange in Senate Republicans?

There has been an interesting observation in Senate Republicans in recent  months.


Shockingly they seem to have grown a spine!


They stood up against the democrats on Kavanaugh when normally they would scatter and fold up shop.


Lindsey Graham actually standing up for principles and acting like a conservative?  Who would ever have believed it could happen?


Mitch McConnell actually sounding like a leader and guiding through the confirmation process and holding the coalition together? WHAAAAAT?


Liberal republicans actually voting with the block rather than opposing? (Even The Flake?)


The Republicans stop caving to every democrat demand?


Republicans actually starting to work on Trump's agenda?


While not perfect, clearly things appear to be moving in a slightly different direction.  It takes a while for a beast this large to turn, it is like a battleship, it doesn't turn on a dime.


What has happened in the past 6 months that might be a catalyst for all this?  Any major change you can think of?  I can think of one.


The passing of John McCain.


There seems to be a sigh of relief in the senate now. 


Lindsey always went along with McCain as they were besties, and didn't want to make him look bad.  Now he seems OK with stepping out of McCain's shadow and becoming his own man.  It will be interesting to see if this is short term outrage or if he finally becomes what he promises South Carolinians he is.


The democrats have lost their faithful "across the aisle" vote on any contentious issue - especially if it was a Trump policy.


Someone with the seniority of McCain wielded a ton of power behind the scenes, and could assert a lot of pressure on McConnell in what direction the senate goes (granted, I still don't trust McConnell at all as he is an establishment hack only interested in personal power, but at least he seems freed up a bit)


This makes the anti-Trump agenda wing of the republican party in the senate almost nonexistent - especially with the retirement of Corker and Flake


I really hope this carries through, especially as Republicans are virtually guaranteed to pick up at least a couple of seats in the senate in the midterms at this point, even while the house is still a toss up, so this will give even less power to the Murkowskis/Collinses of the republican party.


With very likely at least 2 more Supreme court picks Coming up over the next 5 years


RBG is 85 and a pancreatic cancer survivor (already far exceeded typical life expectations of someone who is diagonsed with that)


Stephen Breyer is 79.


Next oldest is Clarence Thomas at 69 then Samuel Alito at 68.


By the time Trump leaves office in 2025, we could have a 7-2 split of constitutional originalists, and I could even see a possible 5th or 6th pick if Trump makes consistent picks to replace Breyer and RBG, Thomas and/or Alito may feel comfortable retiring knowing they can be confident in the constitutional philosophy of their replacements.


This would present a complete seachange in politics in America and send us down a road that heads back toward the constitutional republic we were intended to be for the next 30-50 years.


No longer will the democrats be able to use activists on the courts to be a "super legislature" to rule into law things they couldn't constitutionally pass through the legislative process.


George N Romey Added Oct 8, 2018 - 4:15pm
Its been shown that in reality Trump has liberal social views. Its just that he likes pandering to the social conservative crowd.  Really the thought that this man is religious is laughable.  
What Trump wants is not to have any of his decisions overturned by the SC.  Like FDR he wants to pack the Court with justices that might see things his way.  
I don't think Trump gives two hoots in hell about Roe vs. Wade.  Either sustain or repeal isn't in his thinking, and if anything probably the former.  
Ken Added Oct 8, 2018 - 5:04pm
George - Your post makes no sense
Where did I ever say anything about Trump being religious?  And if putting constitutionalists on the bench is pandering, I'll take pandering any day.
if the 2 justices he has nominated so far  are "packing the courts with justices that might see things his way", then you are simply admitting that he is governing according to the constitution.
The justices so far he has put on the supreme court are NOTHING like the judges FDR put on the bench (Including a communist who sat on the supreme court for years) of left wing activists who were guaranteed to keep in place his progressive policies and not overturn his federal overreach.
Whether he wants to repeal e Roe v. Wade or not, the constitutionalists he is putting on the bench will likely overturn it at some point in the future.  Even those who were directly involved with it state that the decision was incredibly poorly reasoned and written by Blackmun (and even left wing historians have admitted such over the past 50 years).  It will invariably be overturned at some point.
Overturning Roe v. Wade however will not suddenly make abortion illegal.  That simply means the federal government is not requiring it to be legal in all states.  The states themselves may then (as the constitution intended) determine whether or not it should be legal or not in their state based on their beliefs.
George N Romey Added Oct 8, 2018 - 5:15pm
You are the one that assumes Trump is conservative.  I say he's not and never has been.  What Trump is, opportunistic.  My take is he simply wants justices that won't take up challenging laws he is for and have been written into law, whether by executive order or actually passed by Congress.  
And of course the particulars may be different but its exactly what FDR tried to do.  At the time there were challenges being taken up to repeal his New Deal legislation (just about all of it passed by an overwhelming Congress).  
Trump goes after guys like you because you can't see beyond the hype.  As I have written this is nothing new, in part because this time around the press is dead set against Trump.  In previous times they simply backed whatever the President wanted to put out.
We wanted to believe Honest Abe and JFK was a true family man.
John Minehan Added Oct 8, 2018 - 5:17pm
I agree with you on the importance of people on the Federal High Court who care about the Constitution.  It is nice to see people who are as informed as you are.
But I don't see the Senate Republicans circling the wagons around Trump to be a positive thing, anymore than I consider Senate Democrats circling the wagons around Obama on PPACA a good thing.
PPACA was a half-baked piece of legislation (a norm of high-deductible insurance with no provisions for HSAS!!??) and some decent Democrat in the Senate should have opposed the damn thing as Dan Moynihan did in '93 with the Clinton Plan.
In the same way, John McCain opposed a lot of half-baked ideas that Trump has promoted, like that PPACA repeal plan that did not do anything about the big, smoking hole PPACA has left in the individual health insurance market in most states.
I also think that Justice Kavanaugh had enough issues that I could not have voted for him.   
Dino Manalis Added Oct 8, 2018 - 5:18pm
 McCain's spirit lives on, while Republicans should pursue Center-Right policies to gain the most.
Ken Added Oct 8, 2018 - 5:23pm
You are the one that assumes Trump is conservative. 
I never once stated that he was.  In fact, in a number of posts I have stated specifically that he is not.  At best, I would call him a "pragmatist".  All I am referencing is the agenda he has implemented to date and the appellate and SCOTUS nominees he has put forth to date and whether or not he continues that trend
Ken Added Oct 8, 2018 - 5:45pm
But I don't see the Senate Republicans circling the wagons around Trump to be a positive thing
not around Trump, but around the Trump agenda.  As long as they follow what he is doing (at least so far) rather than what he says, rally around that because so far his actions have been good for America and constitutionalism.  If he starts swerving left, then reassess.  He appears to have better people around him now than he did when he started, however, including less influence of liberal democrats Jerrod and Ivanka.
PPACA was exactly what it was intended to be (and not half baked).  It was intended to collapse the private insurance system and force us onto single payer.  A stated goal of the writers and Obama.  The only problem was there was a hiccup on the way to this and that was Trump vs. Hillary.  If Hillary had won we would well be on our way to bankrupting us with government run rationing of health care. - meat for a different article, however.
I also think that Justice Kavanaugh had enough issues that I could not have voted for him.
I can understand that.  not requiring search warrants for GPS tracking, he was the first judge who defined the original mandate as a "tax" as just a couple of examples.  Not to mention he was NOT on the original list of promised nominees.
His mentor was Kennedy and he agreed with Merrick Garland on the majority opinion 93% of the time.
I think at best we get someone slightly more constitutional than Kennedy here.  Probably going to be very good on breaking down the federal bureaucracy in regulatory agencies (which I believe are unconstitutional to begin with as there is nothing in the constitution that allows congress to delegate their authority to make law to any other body).
I would have preferred Amy Barrett Coney (and I believe she will replace RBG)  and I would love to see Mike Lee's brother (or Mike) replace Breyer.
I think in many ways, Kavanaugh was an incredible strategic move, however.  There was nothing "legitimate" for the democrats to resist him on - as they don't care about the constitutional issues you or I might - and there was nothing insane enough in his background to void him.  The fact that the democrats attacked him so relentlessly over nothing brought Never Trumpers  (most of the high profile of those were in the Bush Camp) into the fold and rallied them to be united at the travesty.  I don't know that any other choice could have done that, and withstood the heat that was thrown at them.
It will also open the door to a new Alito/Thomas/Scalia for the next generation on the court because this fight has weekend the democrat argument tremendously and delegitimized them as nothing more partisan hacks playing politics.  Other than the most hard core, they will be hard pressed to rally the troops over the next pick like they did for this one.
If Trump takes advantage of this, I think we can have confidence in how he will pick in the future, but he has already exceeded expectations with 28 appellate judges and 2 supreme picks, and still a number more to go
John Minehan Added Oct 8, 2018 - 6:19pm
"I would have preferred Amy Barrett Coney (and I believe she will replace RBG)  and I would love to see Mike Lee's brother (or Mike) replace Breyer."
As a practical matter, I am not sure someone who did not go to HLS or Yale Law would have any chance of being nominated, unless, like Mike Lee, they were a respected politician.
That is something I have heard lawyers (and non-lawyers) remark on from a variety of standpoints.
John Minehan Added Oct 8, 2018 - 6:22pm
I admire Justice Thomas for taking a real interest in Federal Common Law, especially that "complex and reticulated" statute called ERISA.
It is both important and neglected.
Ken Added Oct 8, 2018 - 7:24pm
I am not familiar with the specifics of that, although ERISA sounds vaguely familiar, will have to look it up when I have time if you don't have a handy synopsis
John Minehan Added Oct 8, 2018 - 7:36pm
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, passed in the aftermath of Packard walking a way from its Pension Plans in 1965 when it closed its door, federalized the law of pensions and "employee welfare benefits" (including, but not limited to, health benefits). 
It specifically authorized the creation of a federal common law based on the law of trusts.
I believed it also created the Pension Guaranty Benefit Corporation or PGBAC, which back stops private pensions.
Ken Added Oct 8, 2018 - 7:44pm
Oh, thanks.   I vaguely remember reading about that many years ago, but it isn't something I would typically cite in ongoing issues, that was why vaguely familiar but couldn't recall what it was about.  Not directly applicable to many of the "topics of the day".
George N Romey Added Oct 8, 2018 - 8:05pm
The PGBAC will not pay $1 on the dollar. When the Airlines went into Chapter 11 and dumped their pension liabilities employees got about 40 cents on the dollar. If there is a massive pension fail in the future there’s going to be a nasty surprise for pension holders.
John Minehan Added Oct 8, 2018 - 8:10pm
George, agreed.  
It is a big problem, that is often ignored.
It is more than we had when Packard folded but I.m not sure there are not better ways.
I think we need better things than trying to Federalize the intractable.
John Minehan Added Oct 8, 2018 - 8:12pm
"Not directly applicable to many of the 'topics of the day.'"
I have had days (also "weeks," "months" and "years') when I wished I could say that, Ken.
Ken Added Oct 8, 2018 - 8:43pm
Perhaps once I learn it more deeply I will better apply it, but of the big topics of the day non-legal circles discuss, I doubt that will be applicable.
The interesting question will be how that might be applicable to public sector pensions.  I think without major federal bailouts the states are already halfway over the cliff.  Illinois I believe has a pension due > entire tax revenue per year (or very close to it).  CA is just off the charts insane - and they want to secede? HAHAHAHA. 2 weeks after secession they go to war with Las Vegas to try and pick up cash or declare bankruptcies and all pensions null and void!
John Minehan Added Oct 8, 2018 - 8:45pm
It only covers private sector pensions.
Public sector pensions are a stunning mess.
Ken Added Oct 8, 2018 - 10:00pm
Ah thanks.  Can't say shocked about that.  My minimum wage article pointed out a lot about why public sector unions are as in as much trouble as they are
Flying Junior Added Oct 9, 2018 - 5:40am
Q.  Is Trump a conservative?
A.  No.  Trump is a destructionist.
Thomas Sutrina Added Oct 9, 2018 - 8:43am
The leadership of the Republican Party have always had a spine.  They hate the conservative wing of their party and attack them mercilessly for decades, but on a few occasion they loose.  Just look how John McCain or Mitt Romney became the candidate.  They applied the same tactics that we see Democrats use on republican or even they use to apply to the radical part of their party.  
Trump was a democrat before Obama and donated money to Hillary for her senate campaign.  I see some good comparisons of President Trump to President Kennedy, both cut taxes.   Trump signed two omnibus spending bills that pay for all of Obama's social and welfare state programs which the leadership wing, Bush wing, also paid for.
Remember that Bert Kavanaugh is a Bush Republican, leadership wing of the party.  
TexasLynn Added Oct 9, 2018 - 11:03am
Very good post and very intuitive.  I had not thought of the McCain angel in all of this.
I have to admit my complete surprise that Kavanaugh got through.  There were so many historical factors against it.  The spineless (I generally use the term cojones) GOP leadership.  The many "moderates" who consistently turn/vote left.  It was refreshing.  Graham in particular... what the hell happened there?
I really hope this is a glimpse of things to come.
It's interesting how the thoughts of some on the left are projected upon us conservatives.  "You think Trump is religious".  "You think Trump is conservative".  What they are really saying is, "We (the left) wish you religious conservatives would be stupid enough to throw a hissy-fit and abandon the lesser of two evils so that our greater evil would win for a change."
Who doesn't hope their enemy is an idiot so as to hand them an effortless victory?
Thomas Sutrina Added Oct 9, 2018 - 1:10pm
TexasLynn, you still think the GOP leadership is spineless.  To lie to the voters and then when seated go against the reason you got elected and support the crony capitalist that also want about 70% of the Democrat programs is not spineless.  And they do it election after election. 
The leadership knows full well that those that vote Republican are not Bush, crony capitalist, Republicans.  They see it in the donations to the party falling to the floor from voters.  What funds the party is the crony capitalist.   Maybe they are spineless to not go against the crony capitalist but I think not because they all have received golden parachutes.  
What kind of gull does it take to pass a bill knowing that Obama wouldn't sign repeal of Obamacare.  And then go on TV and say that you will put the same bill on the desk of a GOP president.   When the opportunity happens you pass a bill that was written by the same crony capitalist that helped the Democrats house write the original Obamacare bill.   "Obamacare-lite" was the name the voters gave it .  When it was Senates turn to past the same type of bill the outrage from the voters was so strong that it didn't pass.  The repeal bill was voted down that was put on Obama's desk.  Those representatives that are on record passing it for President Obama and rejecting it for President Trump have a spine because the voters know what happened, they were deceived.
Senator Graham is just a sniveling liberal today as he was a month ago. It didn't take a spine to support the Bush Republican support  the leadership already said they would fight to get a Bush judge on the supreme court.
Cliff M. Added Oct 9, 2018 - 2:45pm
Ken, I think I can understand your tunnel vision view of the current GOP. They may have won the Kavanaugh spectacle but have lost the women vote. Today I heard 63% of women polled were planning on voting Democratic this cycle. They are treating the Kavanaugh appointment with the typical Republican spin. Motivating just their base when they have just enough votes when independents vote republican won't get it done. If history tells us anything about midterm elections the Senate is seriously in play. I try to look at this objectively from the middle and am real curious how this turns out.Kudos for Trump and getting his nomination through. I think we are going to see some real surprises this cycle.
Thomas Sutrina Added Oct 9, 2018 - 6:46pm
Cliff M., republican women have straightened their support of Kavanaugh.  In fact all the poles show that the GOP voters and many of the undecided have been energized to vote Republican.  Since women make up actually more then half of those that vote. Your 63% seems to be one month out of date.   All republican candidate have picked up likely votes and thus half of them statistically are women.  
Democrat senators after Kennedy gave his resignation said they would not vote for any Trump nominee.  They have turn those words into action, and the public outside of Democrats are not happy with the tactics they used.  Unfounded allegations and even ridiculous allegations didn't sit well with undecided voters, including women.  Women that want to be believed were not helped by the circus created by democrats cheapening women's fight to be heard.  Any thinking women realizes that facts about when and where is important.  Women generally tell at least other women so no told in confidence is highly unusual.
Cullen Writes Added Oct 9, 2018 - 9:03pm
Maybe with the lining of up many Republican views (assuming that they hold the Congress), they can pass a replacement for ObamaCare that keeps everyone insured who has pre-existing conditions. 
Short of some dramatic action (something like allowing people to arrange themselves into group policies as an employer would with a 3rd party insurance provider), I see a single payer (universal) healthcare system being the only solution that solves the healthcare woes of the U.S.A.
Lindsay Wheeler Added Oct 9, 2018 - 9:13pm
Right on! Right On!  yes, the Republican Senators grew a spine for once and are fighting back!  
Amen! Amen!
The Burghal Hidage Added Oct 9, 2018 - 9:13pm
I would not get too excited Ken. It is good to have the legislative support for a time, but rest assured republicans will revert to their factory default setting: Brainless, Spineless and Dickless
There may always be a few exceptions, but as long as Yale and Harvard are the farm clubs for government hacks,, officials , this too shall pass
Cliff M. Added Oct 9, 2018 - 10:15pm
Thomas,  The polling stats are from today. This episode may have woken a sleeping giant. The current republican spin job only has appeal to their hardened base voters. Trump has already lost the college educated women and this episode showing the lack of concern for the welfare of women will not help the cause. Taylor Swift has taken up the cause in Tennessee and has given support to the Dem candidates for house and senate. She has also gotten a large spurt of younger voters to register to vote which is not a good thing for the repubs.
Ken Added Oct 9, 2018 - 11:11pm
Thomas - going with the flow, continuing the status quo rather than standing up and doing what their voters asked them to do and they promised to do is the very definition of spineless.
Ken Added Oct 9, 2018 - 11:14pm
I would not get too excited Ken. It is good to have the legislative support for a time, but rest assured republicans will revert to their factory default setting: Brainless, Spineless and Dickless
I fear you are correct and this will be a short livd ripple effect, but one can hope!
Ken Added Oct 9, 2018 - 11:19pm
The polling stats are from today. This episode may have woken a sleeping giant
the sleeping giant that you think may have awakened is not the one you described.  Democrats were already charged up and angry and going to show up.  overplaying their hand has made this an important election to those who hadn't really been engaged.  The enthusiasm gap has dropped from 10% in favor of democrats to a statistical dead heat.
There is also a month left to show the women how they are getting angry for the wrong reasons at the wrong people.  Ford was USED by the democrats when she could have been protected and the whole thing could have been handled privately.  THEY leaked her name to the press, not republicans.  The republicans treated her respectfully during the questions and didn't push.  The democrats were incredibly abusive to Kavanaugh and showed no similar respect.
Once people get past the immediate leftist MSM spin and realize that there was NO justification for the allegations, no evidence, and contrary to the narrative one is actually presumed innocent until proven guilty, don't be surprise if that dies down.  much of this is short lived knee jerk reaction, but some of it will leave lasting anger among the voters, especially the democrats revealing exactly who they are and what they represent
The Burghal Hidage Added Oct 9, 2018 - 11:22pm
Taylor Swift! Hooo! There's a weighty endorsement! The dems are sure to get that PMS vote in TN now! Oh, wait....they we going to get that vote anyway. I'll bet you wont show yourself on here the day after the election
The Burghal Hidage Added Oct 9, 2018 - 11:24pm
Keep whistling past the graveyard Cliff
Cliff M. Added Oct 9, 2018 - 11:49pm
Burghal,  I may be wrong but from my side of the fence it sure seems like somethings up.It looks like the House is going back to Democrats. The Senate will probably stay in Republican control. It would be interesting to see how the Donald would triangulate with a house and senate democratic majority. I'm from New Jersey where Trump has only zero to minimal support from the women. By the way I voted for Trump.
The Burghal Hidage Added Oct 10, 2018 - 12:12am
Maybe thats how it smells in Jersey. Nothing personal to you Cliff, but it has been my experience that folks who live on "the coasts" are blithely unaware and misinformed about what is happening in flyover country. I agree that by and large most members of the republican party have done little to help themselves, but the dems seem to think that their anger will propel them to victory. They have not learned anything at all from the last election. That and their unbridled leftward tilt, their disdain for over half of the electorate and their abysmal record over the preceding eight years is what cost them the last time. They are still a one trick pony, they offer nothing new, it's the same pathetic bull shit that they tried to pawn off as filet in 16. and 14, 12, 10, 08.......
I have said it before and dems will keep falling until they figure it out: The fact that they lost to a loudmouthed, uncouth buffoon from reality television says very little about him. It speaks volumes about them.
Cliff M. Added Oct 10, 2018 - 6:27am
Burghal,  Add the current agenda and the distain felt by many is the driving force .The majority is going to keep dumping players until something reasonable takes. From a smooth talking schill to a loud mouth bigot.. We can do better.
Johnny Fever Added Oct 10, 2018 - 6:37am
Senate Republicans are the same they have always been.  The difference is you.   From the Stimulus to Dodd Frank to Obamacare all of this was passed over the objections of Republicans, yet when they passed instead of pointing fingers at Democrats you called Senate Republicans "spineless."
As for McCain, he only blocked one piece of Trump legislation, TrumpCare.  In doing this I think he handed set the stage for all the victories Republicans have been having.  To be sure, that’s just speculation but I'd be interested to know one other vote McCain cast that went against the Trump agenda?
Congratulations to McConnell for making people like you finally see the light. Recognizing how difficult it is to get what you want when you don’t have the votes is an important step in your political education.
Ken Added Oct 10, 2018 - 12:00pm
I may be wrong but from my side of the fence it sure seems like somethings up.It looks like the House is going back to Democrats.
This has been widely predicted in many places.  I have even said it myself because house districts are a microcosm and not necessarily representative of the state as a whole.  In all but 2 elections post WW2 the house has flipped to the minority party in the midterms with an average of 31 seats flipping.  If there is an average move, then republicans will lose the majoirty.  If the anger from Kavanaugh holds for 4 more weeks there is a chance they hold the majorit.
The interesting thing will be the complete meltdown of the left if they do NOT take control of the house  You thought the violence of the left the past 1 1/2 years was sickening.  You won't have seen anything yet....
Ken Added Oct 10, 2018 - 12:06pm
Senate Republicans are the same they have always been.  The difference is you.   From the Stimulus to Dodd Frank to Obamacare all of this was passed over the objections of Republicans, yet when they passed instead of pointing fingers at Democrats you called Senate Republicans "spineless."
The republicans objected because they could object and it cost them nothing because they were going to pass anyway.  There was no spine there.
The lack of spine was obvious in failing to repeal ObamaCare, failing to fund the wall, failing to defund PP and on and on when they were in control the past 2 years.  Their budgets (CRs) continue to contain every democrat spending priority.
As for McCain, he only blocked one piece of Trump legislation, TrumpCare.
He did a lot more than that, that was just one of the most publicized.  Dig a little deeper and you will see how obstructionist he has been on virtually every agenda priority.  He was a sad little man with a big ego that was all about John McCain.  He was the epitome of the candidate that told his voters one thing then turned to washington and constantly did exactly the opposite of what he promised.
Congratulations to McConnell for making people like you finally see the light
That is not only insane and insulting, but it shows a complete lack of awareness. McConnell  has blocked the conservatives and tea party at every turn.  He has a major pack that has pushed the establishment pro-McConnell candidates over the tea party/conservative candidates in virtually every race.  They have even funded the democrat over the republican in some races where they didn't want the conservative.  McConnell has long been part of the problem not part of the solution.

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