Murkowski Dismisses McConnell's Promise to Vote on Kavanaugh; Red-State Democrats put in a Bind

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Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
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This is feeling much less like a good faith effort by the Vichy 3 and more and more like a calculated stall effort so they don’t have to ultimately cast a vote.

When asked today about McConnell’s promise to vote “this week,” this was the response.

Asked about McConnell pledge to move forward with the vote, Murkowski told The Associated Press that McConnell “talked about a vote a last week, too.”

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, another undecided Republican, was riding with Murkowski on an underground Senate train. Collins smiled and told her colleague, “Good answer.”

Murkowski and Collins both say they are satisfied with the scope and pace of the FBI’s probe.

There are two ways to look at this.

1) Murkowski and Collins are really fair minded people and are just covering their bases here. They needed this FBI investigation to provide cover and are remaining coy about it in the meantime. When it comes time to vote, they’ll vote yes to confirm. The last line in the excerpt supports this contention.

2) Murkowski and Collins really, really do not want to vote on this. They want to vote no but would rather face a situation where they do not have to vote at all. Therefore, they are doing everything they can to delay in the hopes that something happens that forces the withdrawal of Kavanaugh from the nomination.

Which is it? I’ll say this.

The way Flake, Collins, and Murkowski have played this is extremely manipulative. Flake, especially, has been very transparent in the fact that this was a PR move by him in order to build his credibility for his next venture (media gig and/or 2020 run). Running off to 60 minutes to toot his own horn and then doing a joint conference appearance with Chris Coons are not the actions of a man who’s taking this seriously and has his head down trying to come to a decision.

The question is, are Collins and Murkowski in the same boat or is Flake just a pawn for them? Are they really just doing what they feel they need to do to ultimately get to yes while limiting the political damage?

I’m not positive either way. IF they are wanting to vote yes in the end, I can understand why they’d keep shifting away from hard statements right now. On the other hand, it’s all extremely frustrating to watch and it does hint at openness for another delay.

In order to have the vote this week, two of the three mentioned Senators must vote to end debate tomorrow. We are down the wire here.

The wildcard in all this are the red-state Democrats. ND, WV, MT, and IN want Kavanaugh confirmed by fairly large margins. That puts those incumbent Democrats in a very bad position. If they vote against Kavanaugh, they will very likely lose their Senate races, meaning the Republicans can do whatever they want after the election.

I won’t claim to know how this is all going to turn out. What I will say is that McConnell has to stick to his guns at this point. If Kavanaugh is meant to go down, you must make all these squishy Republicans and red-state Democrats go on record taking him down. Under no circumstances do you pull the nomination just because you know the votes aren’t there (which would be the usual form in the Senate). You make them vote him down.

Things are heating up. We’ll see how it all turns out soon enough. Regardless, the Republican majority still holds a lot of cards here. They’ve just got to play them.

UPDATE:

McConnell says make my day…triples down.

“We’ll get an FBI report soon. It will be made available to each Senator. All the Senators will be able to look at it,” McConnell said. “We’ll be voting this week.”