By now, everyone's heard that the Democrats, led by Harry Reid (who as noted was against this just eight years ago), have pulled the trigger on the so-called "nuclear option," which is a re-write of Senate rules that allows for judicial (non-SCOTUS) nominees to be passed through the Senate by a simple majority. Republican (and even some Democrats) are outraged, but I see it as a positive for the GOP if they play their cards right.
Pulling the trigger was an outright act of fear by the Democrats. They see a real threat in 2014, and so leadership has to make a decision as to how they can stack the deck in the event of a GOP takeover in the other half of Congress. But, the ploy is a double-edged sword, and one I think the Democrats wielded with a very untrained hand. Harry Reid is a veteran of the Senate, so I am very surprised to see this from him.
Sure, they can pass any judicial nominees they want right now, and are guaranteed them at least through November of 2014. But what if the Republicans take the Senate in 2014. What if they take it in 2016? Sure, in the short run, we get a very raw deal out of this - the Democrats can flood nominees of all kinds (because Pandora's Box has been opened now) through the Senate, but they now have to be on their guard. Republicans are gaining the upper hand in polling across the country.
Imagine a 2014 Senate sweep by the GOP for a moment. Imagine the reversal of 2008 in 2016, where the Republicans control two of the three branches of government. The Democrats have made a terrible mistake in giving their opponents this legislative weapon of mass destruction. And, of course, they will whine and moan and say once more that the Republicans are stifling progress in the Senate and silencing the majority. They will have made their bed.
On a somewhat related note, today the president was droning on and on about how for far too long Republicans have stopped any progress in Congress. If I could say one thing to the president, it would be this: Please stop blaming others for your inability to negotiate. You look like a child weeping about your mother keeping you from having any cookies before dinner. Granted, you're married to Michelle, so it's likely you sound like that when she won't let you have cookies at all. Enjoy your tofu snacks.