When the Communist Sandinistas were turned out of power by the Nicaraguan voters on February 25, 1990, their leader, the terrorist and mass murderer Daniel Ortega, vowed that the Sandinistas would accept the defeat in public but would continue to “rule from below” regardless of what the new government desired. This is exactly what we see developing in the United States Senate where the outgoing leader is an angry, petty, bitter little man dedicated to obstructionism and a number of Republican senators wish to go along with him rather than see him all hurty-pants.
The issue is whether the incoming Senate majority should reinstate the ability of the minority to filibuster. As incredible as it may seem, there are actually GOP senators and others who are advocating giving the Democrats the ability to block GOP legislation after [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ] stripped them of that ability. As best as I can tell, because logically the arguments are just stupid, the justification for this unilateral disarmament is that the bell can be unrung, the genie stuffed back into the bottle, and everyone can just let bygones be bygones. These people actually have deluded themselves into believing that Senate Democrats wouldn’t cite Reid’s move as precedent and reinstate it when they, inevitably, return to power.
Before you can make any deal you have to be dealing with lucid and honorable people. [mc_name name=’Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’F000062′ ]’s release of her “torture” report shows that when dealing with even the most responsible Democrats you are still dealing with people devoid of a sense of duty or integrity. [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ], unfortunately, makes [mc_name name=’Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’F000062′ ] look statesmanlike by comparison. Via the New York Times and Reid, in Diminished Role, Vows Fight With G.O.P.
After losing nine seats in the election, handing control of the Senate to the other party and facing a minor revolt from inside your own caucus, many majority leaders would probably feel a bit chastened.
Not [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ].
The Nevada Democrat, who will become the minority leader when the new Senate convenes in January, said in some of his first extended remarks since the election that his diminished role would not discourage him from picking fights with Republicans on issues ranging from the environment to financial regulations to women’s rights.
“We’re going to have to set up for the new battle, which is going to begin on Jan. 6,” he said.
His somewhat belligerent tone contrasts with that of [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ], Republican of Kentucky and the incoming majority leader, who has pledged to be more conciliatory and cooperative with Mr. Reid and his 46 Democrats.
But Mr. Reid made clear that he does not trust Mr. McConnell to string together the kinds of grand compromises he has vowed to pursue. He also rejected the notion that Democrats’ defeat in the midterms would engender passivity. And he said that Republicans were simply too radical to put forward an agenda that voters would trust.
Does it make sense to give additional power to such a man? One who essentially believes the nation is too radical for America?
Naturally if there is a man willing and anxious to fellate Satan himself if it means increasing his popularity with the press and talking down conservatives, that man is John McCain:
“I think it’s rank hypocrisy if we don’t,” [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ] (R-Ariz.) said when asked about reversing the rule change.
“If we don’t, then disregard every bit of complaint that we made, not only after they did it but also during the campaign,” he added. “I’m stunned that some people want to keep it.”
and where there is McCain, there is his Mini-Me, Lindsey Graham:
McCain’s ally, [mc_name name=’Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’G000359′ ] (R-S.C.), argues that restoring the 60-vote hurdle will make it tougher for Obama to stock the courts in the next two years.
“I think it would be smart for us to go back to the way it used to be, getting the Senate back to the way it’s always been and making it harder to get people into the court and into the executive branch, not easier,” he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and [mc_name name=’Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000584′ ] (R-Idaho) said Monday evening they were inclined to restore the 60-vote threshold.
Erick makes a good point that the filibuster saved us from a Justice Harriet Miers. But the same policy also deprived us of conservatives like Miguel Estrada, Priscilla Owen, Charles W. Pickering, Carolyn Kuhl, David W. McKeague, Henry Saad, Richard Allen Griffin, William H. Pryor, William Gerry Myers III and Janice Rogers Brown. Other highly qualified conservatives were not even nominated because of the treat of a filibuster. So I see this as a net loss for our side.
It seems, at this point, unlikely that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will move to change the rules back to the way they were, despite fevered bleating by various leftwing organs that such a change will happen. Via Politico GOP unlikely to reverse ‘nuclear option’
The change that Democrats made was “long-term and permanent,” said [mc_name name=’Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’B000575′ ] (R-Mo.), a member of his party’s leadership.
“I think it’s well within the traditions of the Senate for a majority to decide nominations and a supermajority to decide legislation,” Blunt said.
McConnell is likely to ultimately side with the overwhelming consensus in his caucus. But even if he decides to change the rules, he probably won’t have enough votes to increase the filibuster threshold to 60.
McConnell would have two options to change rules. He would need 67 votes on the floor, meaning he’d need at least 13 Democrats to join his caucus, which is expected to have 54 members in the new Congress starting next month. But Democrats have overwhelmingly supported weakening the filibuster rules, so it’s unlikely there are 13 Democrats who would be willing to raise the threshold back to 60.
“It’s hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube,” said [mc_name name=’Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S000320′ ] (R-Ala.).
McConnell could also attempt to move on a straight party-line vote by invoking the “nuclear option,” an arcane and rarely used procedure to change Senate rules by just a simple majority of senators, rather than 67 votes. But McConnell has constantly berated Reid for using the nuclear option, contending Reid “broke” the Senate rules to weaken the filibuster.
Moreover, if McConnell were to employ the nuclear option, it could give future majorities even more incentive to use the tactic to further weaken the filibuster — potentially going to the most extreme step of allowing legislation to advance by simple majority support. As a result, many Republicans are skittish about invoking the nuclear option to change the filibuster back to a 60-vote threshold.
“There is a right way to do it. … It takes 67 votes,” said [mc_name name=’Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001056′ ] (R-Texas), McConnell’s No. 2. “And certainly if that’s the way our conference wants to pursue it, that’s the right way to do it. Breaking the rules to change the rules, as you’ve heard before, is not the right way.”
It would be a shame if the GOP meekly retreated on this issue and rewarded Reid for his vindictiveness and incompetence by giving him the filibuster.