Politics & Policy

Claire McCaskill Is Just Another Partisan Democrat

Sen. Claire McCaskill on Capitol Hill (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
She only placates the increasingly radical fringe of activists and donors that rules the party.

For Claire McCaskill, fall of 2018 is looking like the autumn of her career, almost all of which she has spent as a professional politician. She keeps telling Missouri she is a moderate, a centrist, someone who is eager to work with President Trump. As she campaigns for a third term in the Senate, polling has turned against her because the record tells another story, which is that she’s just another Democrat. She isn’t a moderate. She isn’t bipartisan. She’s a liberal.

That McCaskill is a member of the anti-Trump resistance is evident in how she has joined most of her party in abandoning the norm of quickly confirming presidential cabinet chiefs. She voted against Trump’s cabinet picks for the departments of State, Education, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, and for the CIA, the EPA, and the Office of Management and Budget.

This is a strange, radical new Democratic-party tactic: Previous secretaries of state were confirmed by such margins as 94–3 (John Kerry), 94–2 (Hillary Clinton), 85–13 (Condoleezza Rice), unanimously via voice vote (Colin Powell), 99–0 (Madeleine Albright), and unanimously by voice vote (Warren Christopher). Having a cabinet up and running is simply the basis for sound operations in the executive branch of the United States government. The party that loses the White House doesn’t get to seat its own picks. All it can do is drag out the process out of spite, to cause as much dismay for the president and disorder in government function as it can.

Which is exactly what McCaskill did to placate the increasingly radical fringe of activists and donors that rules the Democratic party. McCaskill has taken to denouncing “crazy Democrats” in advertising. She is one of them. What is crazier than trying to sandbag the most routine and formerly nonpartisan part of government? McCaskill isn’t the most bipartisan senator. She isn’t the second-most bipartisan senator. She isn’t in the top 25.

A bipartisan, moderate Democrat would approve qualified Supreme Court nominees of whatever party. McCaskill doesn’t. She voted for both of President Obama’s ultra-liberal Supreme Court picks. But McCaskill voted against Neil Gorsuch. She announced she was voting against Brett Kavanaugh because of a memo he wrote years ago noting, accurately, that campaign-finance laws raise constitutional issues. Missouri can’t afford to continue having a senator who aids and abets the long-term liberal project of taking legislative decisions out of the hands of voters and turning them over to an activist left-wing judiciary.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is exactly the kind of sensible, bipartisan, pro-growth group McCaskill would be in tune with if she were a moderate. That group gives her a lifetime rating of 48 percent — the same rating it gives Dianne Feinstein and just a bit better than Al Franken’s 40 percent. Roy Blunt, Missouri’s other senator, enjoys a 92 percent rating. McCaskill voted against the tax breaks that have been accompanied by a booming economy and the lowest unemployment rate for black Americans in recorded history. She votes against President Trump 55 percent of the time. Trump carried Missouri by 18.7 points. Is she heeding the wishes of Missourians by routinely blocking the president they support, especially on the most important matters? According to a statistical analysis by FiveThirtyEight, McCaskill should be expected to support Trump 83.6 percent of the time. She is simply ignoring her constituents. She does Chuck Schumer’s bidding, not Missouri’s.

On abortion McCaskill, like Schumer, refuses to support a ban after 20 weeks even though some fetuses have proven viable after as little as 22 weeks. She has repeatedly voted to keep federal funding flowing to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading abortionist, forcing every American who pays federal taxes to participate in financing this group. “McCaskill is forthrightly pro-choice, but . . . she avoids the issue while campaigning,” Nicholas Lemann notes in The New Yorker this week.

Hiding her views is something McCaskill resorts to more and more as she finds herself increasingly out of touch with her state. She doesn’t much talk about guns, for instance, but she votes for nearly every kind of gun control that comes along. The NRA gives her an F rating. That isn’t moderate. McCaskill gets the same grade as Schumer. There are 52 senators, including four Democrats, who get an A-minus or better. On immigration, McCaskill talks tough but often votes with the liberal Democrats. “McCaskill has voted for and against defunding sanctuary cities,” noted a PolitiFact check this month. She voted for a 2013 amnesty bill for illegal immigrants that failed. She opposed Trump’s plan to heavily restrict entrants from the troubled countries Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya.

If McCaskill had her way, Hillary Clinton would be president today. She said Clinton had made a “valid point” when she referred to half of Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables.” “I’m out there doing everything I can to help her get elected,” McCaskill said of Clinton in 2016. She called Clinton’s speech upon cinching the Democratic-party nomination a “very special moment.” She called Trump a “buffoon on the world stage, versus someone [Clinton] who is strong and steady and capable.” Claire belongs in the same situation as her pal Hillary: a well-deserved retirement. Not continuing to misrepresent the wishes of Missourians in the United States Senate.

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