That is power in action. Democrats may not be able to stop this outrage, but on Nov. 3 they can — and should — put a firm expiration date on the Republican Party's power.
Joe Biden's lead over Trump in the polls is large enough that Trump looks likely to be a drag on incumbent GOP senators facing tough reelection campaigns. Trump's prospects, and, by extension, those of his fellow Republicans, are not likely to be improved by the New York Times's revelation that the president, who pretends to be a brilliant and munificent businessman, is massively in debt and, in the first year of his term, paid just $750 in federal income tax.
The parlous state of the Republican slate is illustrated by the fact that even Graham, whose reelection is usually a mere formality, finds himself in a real battle against Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. Recent CBS and Quinnipiac polls have shown that race a dead heat; and Harrison has raised such a formidable war chest that Graham was reduced to going on Fox News last week and literally begging viewers for money to keep himself competitive. "I'm being killed financially," he pleaded.
Graham reportedly hopes his high-profile role in Barrett's confirmation hearings will give him a boost. But several national polls have shown that most Americans want the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat left open until after the election so the new president can choose her replacement. Graham might end up energizing his base but also arousing his opposition.
And Graham — until recently — wasn't even on the list of GOP senators that Democrats thought they could defeat to seize the majority.
According to RealClearPolitics poll averages, Susan Collins of Maine trails Democrat Sara Gideon by 6.5 points; Thom Tillis of North Carolina trails Democrat Cal Cunningham by six points; Martha McSally of Arizona trails Democrat Mark Kelly by 5.2 points; Joni Ernst of Iowa trails Democrat Theresa Greenfield by 2.6 points, within the margin of error in recent polls; and Steve Daines of Montana is locked in a statistical tie with Democrat Steve Bullock. In Colorado, where there is scant recent polling, most analysts say incumbent Cory Gardner has an uphill battle against Democrat John Hickenlooper.
If Democrats were able to win any four of those races, McConnell's new title would be minority leader — assuming he wins his own reelection battle, which is likely but not guaranteed. And if they take Graham's seat, too, well, that would be an especially satisfying serving of gravy.
The only endangered Republican senator who has pledged to vote against confirming Barrett before the election is Collins. The rest will be rolling the dice, with their bets against public opinion.
There is no reason the Barrett confirmation fight should in any way hurt Democrats at the polls. All they have to do is avoid injuring themselves, and they can do that by keeping the focus on two themes that clearly work in their favor: unfairness and health care.
They should decline to be baited into any kind of fight over Barrett's faith and how it may or may not affect her judicial views. She has been through the confirmation process before. She's not going to be badgered into saying whether she does or does not intend to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. It would be a mistake to make her look like a victim.
Instead, Democrats should continue to emphasize that the confirmation process itself is unfair and should not be taking place. And yes, they should use whatever parliamentary maneuvers they come up with to slow it down.
To the extent they talk about issues, they should highlight health care and the imminent threat to the Affordable Care Act, whose fate is on the Supreme Court docket just weeks after the election. Millions of Americans are now able to afford health insurance because of the ACA's protections for those with preexisting conditions. If the court strikes down the law, those protections — despite Trump's toothless executive order — will be gone at a moment of deep economic scarring.
Voters care a lot about health care. Republicans obviously do not. And that looks like a very big problem for the GOP.