Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed The Tennessee Star’s National Political Editor Neil McCabe to the newsmaker line to discuss the prowess of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Voting Rights Act bill and the human dignity factor interrupting a vote against the filibuster by Senators Krysten Sinema and Joe Manchin.
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line by the very best Washington correspondent in the country, the national political editor for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network, Neil W. McCabe. Good morning, Neil.
McCabe: Michael, very good to be with you.
Leahy: Neil, Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, seems to be desiring to go zero for four. He’s got another pointless vote on what we call the Voting Wrongs Act. What’s going on in the Senate right now? There’s a big pressure.
You know it’s 50 Democrat-Republican with Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker. And two Democrats, Krysten Sinema of Arizona, Joe Manchin of West Virginia have said we’re not getting rid of the filibuster.
They apparently need to get rid of the filibuster to jam this nationalization of election, the Voting Wrongs Act bill through. What’s Schumer up to?
McCabe: I’ve talked about this before, Mike. One of the bizarre dynamics on Capitol Hill is that the more Trump goes after old crow Mitch McConnell, the more the Republican senators are rallying around him.
And what you don’t have is a guy like Mitt Romney or you don’t have Susan Collins breaking ranks with McConnell because the Senate Republicans, especially the ones who tend to be rebels, want to show their support to McConnell.
And so because the Republicans have held this it has changed the dynamic for Schumer. Schumer has to rely on his own 50 votes which he’s short two, with Manchin and Sinema. But I strongly suggest that a ton of senators from small states are begging Manchin and Sinema to sort of catch the arrows for them.
And we see that Mark Kelly really hasn’t come out against the filibuster. Angus King is wavering. John Tester in Montana is not necessarily in favor of getting rid of the filibuster. And if you think about it, California has more than 50 congressmen.
How many congressmen does Delaware have? How many congressmen does Wyoming have? How many congressmen do these small states have? And you really think about it, if you get rid of the filibuster, these states that don’t have more say than 10 or 15 congressmen, they’ve really just given away whatever leverage they had.
And so that’s going up today. The expectation is that it will fail because there will be no Republican defections. And you have Sinema and Manchin holding tight.
Carmichael: Neil, when you say it’s going up today, does that mean that Angus King and Mark Kelly will have to vote one way or the other?
Carmichael: Manchin is going to actually make every Democrat walk the plank.
Leahy: Schumer is going to make him walk the plank.
McCabe: Schumer is going to make them walk the plank. Schumer has had tremendous success his entire career in the Senate, working with Republicans, getting Republicans to be his sort of frontman.
We saw what Schumer did with Marco Rubio and the immigration bill. We saw how Schumer got Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin to push the anti-gun rights bill after Sandy Hook. One of the things that Schumer does is he’ll go up to a Republican senator and he’ll say, listen, a friend of mine wants to give you some money.
So what they do is they go to Reagan, they get on a private jet, they fly to Peterborough, New Jersey, they take a limo into Manhattan, they have lunch with some rich guy that Schumer knows.
The guy gives the Republican senator a check, and then the senator and Schumer fly back to DC. But on all of the campaign finance reports, it just shows a rich guy in New York gave a check to a Republican senator. Nowhere in the report does it say that the whole thing was brokered by Schumer.
And Schumer has been raising money for Republican senators on the sly for decades. And he has a fantastic staff. They will write bills and then they will give the bills to the Republicans, saying, hey, would you front this?
This has not happened because the Trump-McConnell dynamic has destroyed any chance that Schumer has to get Senate Republicans to flip.
Leahy: So Trump calling Mitch McConnell an old crow has strengthened Mitch McConnell in the Senate.
Leahy: Is Mitch McConnell an old crow? What exactly is an old crow? I mean, that’s kind of an insult, I guess, right? (Laughter) What’s an old crow, Neil?
McCabe: I recommend every husband here listening, do not call your wife an old crow.
Leahy: No, that would be very bad. What’s interesting is the dynamics here going on with Joe Manchin, the Democrat from West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, the kind of progressive Democrat with a bit of common sense and a sense of showmanship.
Did you see this? We talked about this. You and I have talked about this off-air. Nick Saban, the coach of Alabama, grew up and is childhood friends with Joe Manchin.
They played on the same football team. Manchin got a scholarship to play football in West Virginia. Blew his knee out. But Saban got a scholarship to play at Kent State.
Saban and Jerry West, who’s also from West Virginia, have shown their ignorance of constitutional law and their ignorance of politics by sending a letter to Joe Manchin saying, oh, vote for this Voting Wrongs Act. Which is utterly unconstitutional and destroys concepts of federalism found in the Constitution. Any reaction to that?
McCabe: Yes. Manchin completely dismissed it and basically said, hey, do you want to primary me? Primary me. What’s happened is, is that these people are reacting as human beings.
And when that mob showed up at Manchin’s boat that’s tied up in D.C., that had an effect on Manchin because I imagine that that boat has been his refuge the whole time he’s in D.C. And it’s like the idea that you would come to my boat and try to pressure me.
Remember, Joe Manchin is an Italian guy, right? The family name is Mancini. They changed it in West Virginia. But their name is Mancini. I grew up with Italians. You don’t show up at their boat and start screaming at them and expect them to cave. Same thing with Sinema.
Forget Sinema as a politician or a senator or as a showboat. When activists followed this woman into the bathroom and started harassing her in the bathroom it’s like there is no way she is going to cave to that kind of pressure because her human dignity was challenged by people chasing her into a bathroom with phone cameras shooting video and posting those videos.
If you cave to that kind of pressure you cease to be a human being with any kind of dignity. There’s no way you can cave on that. It has nothing to do with politics. And they’ve made it personal for these guys.
So they’re in a situation where they have no choice but to vote. Even if they wanted to get rid of the filibuster they can’t just preserve their own human dignity.
Leahy: This left-wing women’s rights group called Emily’s List you know about those guys, right?
McCabe: Oh, yeah.
Leahy: They just came out and they have said they’re not going to give Krysten Sinema any money anymore. How crazy is that? You would think she’d be somebody that they would champion.
McCabe: Emily’s List is like a trade association for the abortion industry. And so their whole power was that they focused on abortion and they are now getting into waters that they can’t swim in.
And so you think Sinema is afraid of a primary or a general election challenge now in Arizona? She might become the Queen of Arizona they love her so much right now. It’s insane what the Democrats have done to Sinema in Arizona. They have made her a true heroine.
Leahy: To those who support individual liberty.
Carmichael: If Republicans do take the Senate, then they can bring legislation to the floor of the Senate, and Manchin and Sinema will then have to vote on unless edge on that legislation. That’ll be interesting.
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