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Outsiders vs. Insiders: 50 out of 51 GOPers did right on Kavanaugh, isn’t it time to celebrate?

One of the most curious things to come out of the struggle to confirm now Justice Brett Kavanaugh was the development of a seemingly new dynamic within the Republican Party.

It’s no big secret there’s been a decades-long tug-of-war between principled limited government conservatives and establishment “moderates” for the soul of the party. Democrats and the major media label the GOP as Trump Choose the FutureAmerica’s “conservative” party but reality shows full spectrum conservatives make up only a certain slice of the Republican pie, the rest being composed of pocket groups like military interventionist neoconservatives, pro big business and amnesty-favoring Chamber of Commerce types and socially conservative but big government benefit approving “moderates” (who could be classified as single-issue pro-lifers who are no longer welcome in the Democrat faction).

There are more but you get the picture. Rarely do the various varieties reveal themselves in such vivid fashion as they did during the debate over Kavanaugh. With Republicans only holding a one seat senate majority the party couldn’t afford many renegades. As a result, all eyes turned to the handful of possible wishy-washy “defectors,” the so-called “moderates” whose votes were thought to be in question.

There were also those Republicans who’d garnered a reputation over time for “bipartisanship” and who could be looked upon to attempt to broker goodwill between the parties. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has often fulfilled the role, but with his staunch defense of Kavanaugh throughout the process all the good feelings he’s built up with Democrats and the liberal establishment media over the years appears to be out the window now.

The lovefest with Lindsey is over, apparently. In a piece titled “Lindsey Graham is the Saddest Story in Washington,” Frank Bruni wrote at The New York Times, “...Trump’s belittling of McCain never ceased, and Graham took proper offense — for a while. Then Trump became president, started inviting Graham to play golf and Graham parted ways with his nerve and his spine. What beautiful fairways you have, Mr. President. What a virile tee shot.

“That’s the sad part I mentioned. And this is the absolutely pathetic twist: McCain, battling brain cancer, stopped spending much time in Washington, and as his health deteriorated, Graham’s ardor and cheerleading for Trump intensified. McCain, you see, wasn’t just Graham’s friend. He was his road to greater relevance. And Trump presented a veritable expressway. So Graham switched vehicles and directions, and pressed the pedal to the metal.

“He went from defending Jeff Sessions to pushing him toward the exit, from sounding the alarm about Russia to hyperventilating about the Justice Department and the F.B.I., from calling Trump a ‘kook’ to savaging the media for portraying him as one, from wanting to put Trump on a bed of nails to fluffing his pillows and smoothing his duvet. At times he gushes so much that he makes Rudy Giuliani look withholding.”

Sad part? Would you ever expect on opinion writer for a major liberal newspaper to convey grief over any Republican politician’s political positions? Sounds bitter, doesn’t it? Bruni is so put off by the “new” Lindsey Graham he’s akin to a jilted would-be lover after the object of his affection moved on to someone more masculine and successful and better looking than he was. Even worse, Trump is/was essentially a media personality himself and before he unambiguously advocated for conservative Republican policies was more or less accepted as one of their own.

Trump’s open and lavish lifestyle lent an impression he was a card-carrying member of the elites even though he often stated he felt more at home among working class types. The thrice-married well-known playboy certainly fit the profile of a liberal – and his statements over the years backed up appearances. It almost seemed like Trump hobnobbed more with Democrats, too, inviting the Clintons to attend his third marriage and having written checks to numerous liberal politicians. Trump passed off the contributions as a businessman needing to play off both sides.

For these reasons (and many more) at first conservatives suspected the worst of Trump, leading to an overly contentious GOP primary war between the New York billionaire and the establishment as well as the traditionalist, limited government faction exemplified by Ted Cruz.

Graham never fit neatly into any category, compiling a mostly conservative voting record yet willingly crossing the partisan line to make himself look “open” and “principled” on occasion. Like lots of Republicans, Graham was contemptuous and wary of the outsider Trump swooping in from Gotham City and laying waste to the more gentile go-along-to-get-along ways of the past. Graham’s own presidential campaign was doomed from the start, having no “lane” to run in (except for maybe the establishment’s, which was already crowded, taken up by Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Marco Rubio) and because of his many ideological heresies possessed no natural constituency either.

No one I know even thought of backing Graham for party nominee considering there were at least a baker’s dozen (or more) other candidates more appealing than he was. Heck, Lindsey couldn’t even break out in his native Palmetto State. Why was he there?

As the months went on Graham uttered many negative comments about Trump – but then again, so did everyone else in the Republican field. And Trump tossed the barbs right back, usually with a shocking edge that turned heads and left mouths agape. The ill feelings blew apart the party causing convention boycotts and several prominent former presidential candidates to refuse to support Trump in the general election.

For some (John Kasich?) the antagonism remains to this day. The fact Graham subsequently dropped his resentment irks those who preferred the pre-Kavanaugh Graham better. Too bad for them, ain’t it?

Through years of bad experiences most Republicans realize the media’s not your friend, though there’s always been a small cadre of “mavericks” who snuggle up to journalists as though they’re lifelong pals and will report on their exploits fairly. Graham’s been a reliable guest on many a cable news show and usually was more than willing to dig at conservatives in his own party.

For that reason the media loved him. Together with the late Sen. John McCain and former Connecticut Senator Joseph Liebermann, Graham was the third member of a bipartisan clique known as the “three amigos.” The trio dropped party labels to advocate for George W. Bush’s Iraq War and later traveled the planet on the world’s most famous taxpayer funded buddy trips hobnobbing with dictators (like Moammar Gaddafi) and genuinely making fools of themselves in pushing the benefits of American boots coming in and doing some good old fashioned rear-end kicking without demanding any real gratitude towards Uncle Sam for the trouble.

Now Graham’s Donald Trump’s chum and Brett Kavanaugh’s staunchest Republican senate defender. Perhaps McCain’s death paved the way for Graham to cast off his RINO shell and decide to do what’s right from here on out. The late Arizona senator is no longer around to make the rounds to Democrat senate offices to broker “bipartisan” deals. The old days are gone…conservatives are glad for it.

The old times are in the past for almost all Republicans, that is. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski was the only GOPer to join with Democrats (except for West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin) in voting against Kavanaugh, explaining that the judge was a good man but not the right choice for these times. What a coward.

Democrats and their media allies praised Murkowski for her “principled stand.” Everyone else wonders why the Alaska apostate even bothers to call herself a Republican anymore, including the president, who in an interview predicted Republicans will remember her in 2022 (when she’s up for re-election). Rick Moran wrote at PJ Media, “Trump is right. And you have to wonder what the state and local Alaskan GOP organizations think about their senator who betrayed the party that supported her for so many years.

“There are certain times in the career of a politician when the party will crack the whip and demand obedience. This was one of those times. Much more than Murkowski's ‘conscience’ was at stake. The fate of the party in November and Trump's presidency itself was on the line. That makes her vote incredibly selfish and self-serving.

“The Senate being a collegian body where ‘get along, go along’ is the motto, it is not likely that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will bring down the wrath of God on Murkowski for her vote. He could remove her from her committees, ignore her seniority, even deny her prime office space in January. But he won't.”

Moran thinks because McConnell won’t punish Murkowski she should go over and sit with the Democrats come January, where she naturally belongs.

Not a bad idea though it should also depend on how the GOP performs in next month’s elections. Throughout Trump’s presidency Republicans have been hamstrung (somewhat) by a lack of numbers in the upper chamber, effectively granting outsized power to waifs like Murkowski and McCain (and Maine Sen. Susan Collins as well, though at least Collins took the principled path on Kavanaugh). A handful of Democrats faced intense political pressure to vote for Kavanaugh yet toed the party line rather than risk the wrath of arch-partisan fiend Chuck Schumer.

Because she isn’t up for re-election until 2022 – and would not have faced retribution for a “yes” vote on Kavanaugh in any case – Murkowski’s choice wasn’t political in nature. She wasn’t simply deferring to the views of her constituents (though the native tribes don’t like Kavanaugh); no, Murkowski was being herself, a liberal obstructionist and turncoat and why? -- because she figured she could get away with it.

If Republicans do well this year and build a four or five seat senate majority Murkowski’s power instantly melts like the wicked witch of the west after being doused with H2O. Instead of pandering to the Alaska turncoat McConnell could then rightly pull all of her party “perks” she’s taken such generous advantage of throughout her political tenure.

Kudos to McConnell for his passionate leadership for the past three months. If his job only entailed confirming Trump’s judicial and administration nominees his record would be sterling. Unfortunately, the Kentucky establishmentarian’s usually all too willing to bow to the big government elements of the party (like Murkowski, Collins and McCain) instead of passing most of Trump’s MAGA agenda -- and it’s only a matter of time before he disappoints us again.

For now, let’s revel in the victory, one that was made possible largely through the leadership of a very unlikely source, Sen. Susan Collins. Some even argue Collins “saved” the senate the other day. Roger L. Simon wrote at PJ Media over the weekend, “Prior to her words, a good portion of the public could only nod their heads at Senator John Kennedy's description of the Kavanaugh confirmation process as ‘an intergalactic freak show.’  That apt characterization could not help but carry over to the Senate in general, an entity -- it's hard to believe now -- that was once called ‘the world's greatest deliberative body.’

“Nevertheless, Collins treated these children like adults and delivered a logical point-by-point analysis of why Kavanaugh should be confirmed.  She even threw a generous bouquet to Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein, saying she was sure the California senator was not responsible for the leak of Dr. Ford's letter that ignited the freak show…”

“Collins' more important goal was to right the ship, which she did admirably.  She pointed out what most honest and intelligent people realized all along -- that Kavanaugh (a proven believer in stare decisis) is highly unlikely to roll back Roe v. Wade and even less likely to do anything to undermine Obergefell v. Hodges, the decision that guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry under the 14th Amendment.”

Simon’s point is well-taken, though when you get down to it Collins was just doing the right thing – and doing her job -- by voting for Kavanaugh to ascend to the high court, something 48 out of 49 (Montana Sen. Steve Daines, a committed “yes” on Kavanaugh, was absent for the vote while attending his daughter’s wedding, with President Trump’s blessing) of her fellow Republicans already vowed to do.

It wasn’t that difficult to reach Collins’s ultimate conclusion because Kavanaugh’s judicial record is as deep as the Mariana Trench and his character was validated not only by his wealth of personal achievements but also by hundreds of men and women who came forward to defend him once the ludicrous unsubstantiated post-hearing sexual assault allegations were leaked to the press.

Great news -- Collins played like a member of the GOP squad on Saturday; Murkowski didn’t. Collins contributed to the victory…let’s hope she’s on the right “team” from here on out. If that’s the case she’ll earn praise a lot more frequently and will be more consequential in determining the outcome of actual legislation – in a positive way.

The heinous leftwing activist groups’ intimidation tactics didn’t work on Collins, Graham and even Sen. Jeff Flake -- and they shouldn’t have. If America’s political system is ever to get back on track Republicans need to stick together to honor this “new” unity. Otherwise, things could get ugly really fast.

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