Last Thursday, the Democrat-controlled senate under Majority Leader, Sen Harry Dingy Reid (D-Nev.) decided to finally use the long threatened on both sides "nuclear option" and ending the filibuster in regard to certain presidential appointments.
And yes, it is the straw that broke the camel's, or in this case the donkey's back for as even an erstwhile liberal reporter such as the Washington Post's Dana Milbank realizes that gee, the Republicans can use it when they become the majority party in the senate. That should be after the 2014 mid-term elections.
And as I noted the Republicans did threaten this in 2005 when the Democrats blocked quite a few of then President George W. Bush's judicial nominees. The Democrats, led by coinkidink then Senate minority leader Reid and a young first-term Democrat senator named Barack Hussein Obama, fought against the move. The whole threat came to a halt when Sens. John "F--- You" McCain (R-Az) and Lindsay Goober Graham (R-SC) worked out a deal to block the move to get some of the Bush nominees voted on by the whole senate.
Understand that the current filibuster is not the old Mr. Smith Goes To Washington where a senator stands up and says he is going to speak until he or she cannot do it any longer. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) had one of the lengthier old school filibusters in recent history lasting 12 hours and 52 minutes regarding the confirmation of John Brennan as the current director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Most filibusters are a senator objecting to a presidential nomination and forcing the senate to come up with 60 votes to break a filibuster. In fact until Sen. Dingy Reid pushed the button on the nuclear option, 60 votes were needed to pretty much pass most legislation in the senate.
So why is this such a big deal?
Well until senators were directly elected in each state starting in 1913, each state legislature elected senators for six-year terms. And before the 17th amendment allowing for the direct election of senators, the senate was a very slow and deliberative body. So the filibuster really made more sense after the direct elections of senators to slow things down legislatively so as to not be like the House of Representatives.
And that is what the Founding Fathers had in mind in creating a bicameral legislature. For the senate to not be a rubber stamp of the house. And to have the final say on such matters as presidential appointments whether it be to a federal court, a cabinet post or any other appointment in which the senate is required to vote on.
To most Americans, this is arcane stuff. Hell, most Americans do not even know what arcane means. But the fact is that in doing what Sen. Dingy Reid and the Democrats did last Thursday, they have created a monster.
Next year are the mid-term national elections. And lets stipulate that the Republicans take control of the senate and keep control of the house. By doing what Sen. Dingy Reid and the Democrats did, the House of Representatives in 2015 passes the bill to repeal Obamacare. Up to now the 40+ votes have been for naught as the senate has not even taken up any of the measures. The new majority leader of the senate, more than likely Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calls on the new majority to vote to change the rules that it only takes a majority to vote to repeal Obamacare. Oh, you will hear the riot act being read by Sen. Dingy Reid and all the Democrats how unprecedented it is, yada, yada, yada. Sen. McConnell will just refer back to this vote. And because it is about a rule change within the chamber, the minority party, the Democrats, can not do anything to stop it. It passes on a party-line vote and the senate votes for the first time to repeal Obamacare.
Of course the Dear Leader, President Obama will veto it. But that is not the point.
By setting this precedent, the Democrats have to realize that yes, it will come back to bite them and could be big time.
This will create the exact lack of bipartisanship that we see in the house. It will make the senate a glorified house of states or whatever one would want to call it. It will be used to create a rubber stamp for whatever the house should pass.
I know, a lot of people, and I have this in the back of my mind, think that the Republicans will not do such a thing. Because being a conservative party, they would like to go back to the old rules. But the rank and file will not let them. The people that will get elected to the senate, and should that make it a Republican majority, will want to see it happen. It will be a juggernaut that not even Sens. Graham and McCain could stop. Oh, Sen. Goober Graham is up for reelection next year and has some primary challengers. If one can break out of the pack and defeat Sen. Goober, one less to worry about.
And Steven Hayward over at Powerline blog notes that this is a distinct possibility. That because of what the Democrats did in their desperation it will come back to bite them. And he noted the irony of Mr. Milbank thinking this was a bad idea. But it was the lonely voice of retiring Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich) that I leave you with:
“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.”
Short sighted thinking for immediate political gain could mean in the end that a Republican senate can and will use this very nuclear weapon to deal with the excesses of liberalism in the United States once and for all.