Dems throw vul­ner­a­ble sen­a­tors to wolves

Boston Herald - - INSIDE TRACK - By MARC A. THIESSEN Marc A. Thiessen is a syn­di­cated colum­nist.

WASH­ING­TON — It is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine any Repub­li­can se­na­tor op­pos­ing Pres­i­dent Trump’s nom­i­na­tion to the Supreme Court of Brett M. Ka­vanaugh, a judge with im­pec­ca­ble cre­den­tials, strong in­tel­lect and ster­ling char­ac­ter. If Repub­li­cans stay united, Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion as the next as­so­ciate jus­tice is as­sured. And no one is pray­ing harder for Repub­li­can unity than the three Demo­cratic sen­a­tors — Joe Manchin III, (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp, (N.D.), and Joe Don­nelly, (Ind.) — who voted to con­firm Jus­tice Neil M. Gor­such and who are up for re-elec­tion this fall in states Don­ald Trump won by dou­ble dig­its.

A Supreme Court fight is al­ready a night­mare for these vul­ner­a­ble Democrats. The left un­der­stands that Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion is an ex­is­ten­tial threat to its ac­tivist ju­di­cial agenda, so it is go­ing to throw every­thing it has at him in a mul­timil­lion-dol­lar slim­ing. The con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings are go­ing to make the in­fa­mous Robert H. Bork hear­ings seem like a kum­baya ses­sion by com­par­i­son.

Caught in the cross­fire are Manchin, Heitkamp and Don­nelly, all of whom were hop­ing to steer a steady course down the mid­dle to re-elec­tion but will now have to spend the next cou­ple of months get­ting pushed and pulled by both sides. The Democrats’ left-wing base will de­mand that they vote “no” on Ka­vanaugh, while the trio’s pro-Trump con­stituents will de­mand they vote “yes.” And the con­fir­ma­tion fight will dom­i­nate the fi­nal months of their cam­paigns.

Nor­mally, it is the job of a party’s Se­nate lead­er­ship to pro­tect vul­ner­a­ble in­cum­bents by giv­ing them po­lit­i­cal cover to do what they need to do to win re-elec­tion. But in this case, the Demo­cratic lead­er­ship seems to be throw­ing these three sen­a­tors un­der the bus. Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Ill., the No. 2 Demo­crat in the Se­nate, sug­gested on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this past week­end that these vul­ner­a­ble red-state Democrats should sac­ri­fice their re-elec­tion to stop Trump’s nom­i­nee. “They un­der­stand it’s a his­toric de­ci­sion,” he said. “It’s about more than the next elec­tion.”

That is un­prece­dented. Durbin just told these Democrats to com­mit po­lit­i­cal sui­cide. It is shock­ing that one of its own lead­ers just gave the left-wing base li­cense to de­mand that these sen­a­tors vote in such a way that will vir­tu­ally guar­an­tee the loss of their seats. Don’t ex­pect these sen­a­tors to for­get it if they are still in of­fice for the next lead­er­ship elec­tion.

Red-state Democrats want to get this vote over with as quickly as pos­si­ble. A de­layed vote could back­fire ter­ri­bly. Ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post, 26 per­cent of all Trump vot­ers said the Supreme Court was most im­por­tant fac­tor in their vote, com­pared with just 18 per­cent among Hil­lary Clin­ton’s vot­ers. The Supreme Court mo­ti­vates the right more than the left. The best way Democrats can guar­an­tee a strong GOP turnout in key Se­nate races is to make the Supreme Court an elec­tion is­sue this Novem­ber.

So, con­ser­va­tives are hop­ing that Repub­li­cans stay united. But deep in their hearts, red­state Democrats are pray­ing for GOP unity as well.

The Brett M. Ka­vanaugh con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings are go­ing to make the in­fa­mous Robert H. Bork hear­ings seem like a kum­baya ses­sion by com­par­i­son.

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