A liar.
A liar in his lair. DREW ANGERER / GETTY IMAGES

This headline is one among many: "AOC considering impeachment, Schumer weighing Supreme Court expansion in wake of Mitch McConnell's 'blatant, nasty hypocrisy.'"

But this description of McConnell's push to fill Ginsburg's seat with less than two months before the presidential election is way too kind.

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The Wikipedia entry for hypocrisy includes this definition by the British political philosopher, David Runciman: "...kinds of hypocritical deception include claims to knowledge that one lacks, claims to a consistency that one cannot sustain, claims to a loyalty that one does not possess, claims to an identity that one does not hold." My point is that the word is too broad and, as a consequence, lacks the sharpness of the more direct word, "liar."

On the day Scalia died, nine months before the presidential election of 2016, McConnell lied when he said, "The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president." He was not telling American voters the truth. And this fact is made plain by his pledge to give Trump's nominee to replace Justice Ginsburg a vote in the Senate.

The New York Times insulted readers by calling this a "turnabout." It was just a straight-up lie.

'Americans re-elected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,' Mr. McConnell said in a statement issued not long after news of Justice Ginsburg’s death became public. 'Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.'

What's missing in McConnell's statement is any effort to make sense of the lie; it's just gibberish with no attachment to reality. But the writer of the article has still found it enough to call it a change of mind. This is "a stark turnabout," and nothing more.

What is happening here is not about politicians overcoming feelings of "shame" for a greater cause. It's simply the fact that the GOP is a party run by liars, by people who will not tell the truth. And what this means is that it is the party in the business of talking about the greatness of the 2nd Amendment but always breaking the God-deep ninth commandment, often in the name of this God. And they call themselves the "moral majority."

How weak is the God they worship if He can only make things happen by depending on liars? There's McConnell's lie about making voters decide the Supreme Court's empty seat in 2016. Then there is Trump's lie that the deadliness of COVID-19 is a "hoax" orchestrated by Democrats. These lies are, unlike many others, actually on record. There is no doubt about them. This is all that is "stark": the blatant fact that GOP and its supporters, many of whom believe in Jesus, no longer feel it necessary to hide their lies.

And so, the job of the media is not to ask why McConnell suddenly changed his mind. What should be in every story is a profound concern about the state of a political system that has a major party that has no apparent commitment to the truth. What is the other party supposed to do in this situation? Should it also resort to deception? If not, is the Democratic Party not stuck with playing ball on its own, with an actual opponent?

And this where we can ask about the sad state of the leftist politics in the US.

The Dems are condemned to always almost winning, is Doug Henwood's point. But does winning require the left to be as mendacious as the right? Not at all. To think this way only shows how limited one's view of democracy is.

Let's go back to 1940, to France, to the notes written by Walter Benjamin a few months before he took his own life because it was either that or a train trip to a Nazi death camp. The notes were for his unpublished essay, "Theses on the Philosophy of History." The second entry for the notes can be found in volume four of Walter Benjamin; Selected Writings. The target in this note is the mainstream left, which for Germany had been the Social Democratic Party.


[T]he school philosophy of the Social Democratic party [was once] the classless society had been defined as an infinite task, the empty and homogeneous time was transformed into an anteroom, so to speak, in which one could wait for the emergence of the revolutionary situation with more or less equanimity. In reality, there is not a moment that would not carry with it its revolutionary chance—provided only that it is defined in a specific way, namely as the chance for a completely new resolution of a completely new problem.
The important thing to note here is that for Benjamin a revolution was not the motor of history (the Marxist conception); it was instead what stops the movement, a history whose future was not open or accidental but of its own making. The revolution was pulling the emergency breaks of this politically charged and determined train.

But Benjamin's deep point is that the mainstream left of his time, which appears to be no different from that of ours, is about what he described as the "Kantian doctrine of an 'infinite task.'" If you do not know who Kant is, then never mind. What is key here is the German word for this philosopher's doctrine: unendlich. Unending. Always just in reach. Always never grasped.

And so with Ginsburg we lose again. We must wait again. Maybe there will be surprise opening in the near future, if Biden wins? We are left with that, and with calls for the impossible by our leaders: "Play by the rules, GOP!" This is not how democracy gets things done. A politically classless society "is not the final goal of historical progress but its frequently miscarried, ultimately [endlich] achieved interruption." These are the political thoughts of a man who is aware that fascists want to kill him. At the end of his life, his 49 years around the sun, he is thinking about this endless waiting when the emergency brakes hang over his head.

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Those brakes are in reach for Dems, if they want to pull them. Get a load of this headline in Politico: "Poll: Half say election winner should appoint next justice." It sounds like the US is split once again, but check out the first paragraph of the piece:

More voters think the winner of November's presidential election should appoint a new Supreme Court justice to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with a double-digit advantage over those who say President Donald Trump should nominate someone before the election, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted immediately after Ginsburg’s death last week.

By how much? 49 percent to 37 percent. You would never know the smallness of McConnell's support by the piece's headline. And if we include another poll on this matter, this one conducted by Reuters/Ipsos, we find that 62% "of American adults agreed the vacancy should be filled by the winner of the 2020 race, while "23% disagreed and the rest said they were not sure."