It’s not for nothing that Obama nuked the filibuster rule. Yes, Obama. Harry Reid would not have done it except with marching orders.
There’s plenty of commentary all around about how this is a desperate move by Obama, as he sinks in the polls and his most “historic” achievement — Obamacare — eats away at the Democratic Party like a flesh-eating wound.
Obama can pack open judicial seats with hard core partisans, and put his desired apparatchiks in positions of administrative power.
I expressed my view on the opportunity this presents, Democrats nuked the ratchet.
Oddly, I find myself agreeing with some commentators who normally are not on my side of the fence. This Dana Milbank column makes some important points, although he inaccurately also blames Republicans for allegedly abusing the filibuster, The Democrats’ naked power grab:
“Congress is broken,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday before holding a party-line vote that disposed of rules that have guided and protected the chamber since 1789….
Here’s what then-Sen. Joe Biden said in 2005 when a Republican Senate majority threatened to use a similar “nuclear option” to allow a simple majority to carry the day:
“The nuclear option abandons America’s sense of fair play . . . tilting the playing field on the side of those who control and own the field. I say to my friends on the Republican side: You may own the field right now, but you won’t own it forever. I pray God when the Democrats take back control, we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.”
Sen. Carl Levin (Mich.), one of just three Democrats who opposed his colleagues’ naked power grab, read those words on the Senate floor Thursday after Reid invoked the nuclear option. The rumpled Levin is not known for his oratory. But he is retiring next year and free to speak his mind — and his words were potent.
“We need to change the rules, but to change it in the way we changed it today means there are no rules except as the majority wants them,” Levin said. “This precedent is going to be used, I fear, to change the rules on consideration of legislation, and down the road — we don’t know how far down the road; we never know that in a democracy — but, down the road, the hard-won protections and benefits for our people’s health and welfare will be lost.”
The word “historic” is often tossed around in Washington, but this change ends a tradition dating to the earliest days of the republic. For the nation’s first 118 years, there were no limits on debate in the Senate. After 1917, cutting off debate, or reaching “cloture,” required a two-thirds majority. In 1975, that threshold was reduced to 60 of 100 votes. Even that lower minimum required lawmakers to cooperate with each other….
“If a Senate majority demonstrates it can make such a change once, there are no rules which binds a majority, and all future majorities will feel free to exercise the same power, not just on judges and executive appointments but on legislation,” Levin said Thursday. Quoting one of the Senate’s giants, Arthur Vandenberg, Levin said his fellow Democrats had sacrificed “vital principle for the sake of momentary convenience.”
If it was possible to make things even worse in Washington, Reid just did it.
There are dangers in what Obama has done. But the bigger point is that slowly but surely he is stripping down to who he really is.
From NSA spying run amok, to usurpation of congressional power through administrative orders, to lying to the American people about keeping their plans, the real Obama is coming into sight for the American people for the first time,
And as the current polling reflects, they don’t like this Emperor without clothes.DONATE
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