Steve M. realizes
What we learned in November, if we didn't already know it, is that civil rights fights don't inspire a unifying admiration among Americans. As much as 46% of the electorate is tired of hearing about the struggles of non-whites, and votes accordingly. So of course McConnell has no qualms about preventing Elizabeth Warren from reading Coretta Scott King's words on the Senate floor. Of course he and 48 of his fellow Republicans would vote to uphold that ban. None of their voters will object. None of their voters revere the Kings that much (or at all).
So this fired up the Democratic base, but it didn't alienate Republican voters. That's something, but I wish it meant more.
But it doesn't have to mean more. Firing up the Democratic base is crucial, especially because it encourages Democratic members of Congress to understand the base is with them. So, too, is it critical for those members of Congress to understand what is at stake, and what their opponents are willing to resort to.
Even before the rebuke of Warren, Ezra Klein had understood it is "taken for granted that congressional Republicans will protect their co-partisan at any cost" and "confirm Trump's unqualified nominees, ignore his obvious conflicts of interest, overlook his dangerous comments, and rationalize his worst behavior."
The word may- or may not- have come down from Mount Olympus, or Mount Trump, to shut up the Massachusetts Democrat. Nonetheless, the Senate Majority Leader is modeling the behavior of the President. "Pure authoritarian impulse," Charlie Pierce calls it, which seems awfully similar to the conduct of the autocrat in the White House.
So, too, are all of his subjects following the lead of their Supreme Leader in the White House by voting in lockstep to invoke Senate Rule 19 in which Senators may not “directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator."
It doesn't have to be socialists, trade unionists, Jews, or a Protestant minister. Circumstances and characters change with time. And so, for whatever purpose, to whatever end, President Trump is coming after Democratic voters, with charges of voter fraud (debunked repeatedly) and a commission set up to find it, and he has a boatload of allies on Capitol Hill.
He is coming after the press, with the latest charge being that it ignores terrorism, and for the courts for encouraging it. He is coming after Muslims, whom he blames almost exclusively for terrorism. And now congressional Republicans, who already were falling in line, believe it insufficiently decorous to read on the Senate floor the remarks of the widow of a civil rights icon.
The "cowardice" Klein notices in congressional Republicans "is the real danger to American democracy." He argues "we need to stop talking so much about what Trump will do and begin speaking in terms of what Congress lets him do." It became a little more clear Tuesday night what Congress will let him do and what congressional Democrats, their base at their back, must do in response.