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That is the final paragraph of Democrats were forced to go ‘nuclear’ at last, the column for tomorrow's Washngton Post by Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Eugene Robinson.

It is thorough, and every assertion Robinson makes is back up with hyperlinks to support his argument.

Or perhaps you might prefer his equally short first paragraph:

Way to nuke ’em, Harry.
Which is followed by these two paragraphs:
t was time — actually, long past time — for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to invoke the “nuclear option” and ask his colleagues to change the Senate’s rules. This isn’t about partisan politics. It’s about making what has been called “the world’s greatest deliberative body” function the way the Framers of the Constitution intended.

Recently, it has barely functioned, as Republicans abused the old rules to prevent the chamber from performing its enumerated duties. There was a time when the minority party in the Senate would have been embarrassed to use such tactics in pursuit of ends that are purely political, but we seem to live in an era without shame.

an era without shame - well, that might be the only line in this strong column with which I disagree.  As one who attempts to teach government to young people, I have felt ashamed that they have had to watch the deliberate disfunction created by a Republican party determine to ensure Obama failed.

Except they tried that and the American people rejected them.  After all, remember this:

That may have been the top priority of the Republicans, but last time I checked the American people chose to reelect Barack Obama, which means they chose to let him fill judicial vacancies.

Please keep reading.

Fobinson "gets" what it is the Republicans are doing:  

The real reason is that the Republican political strategy for working with Obama is not to work with him at all. Whatever Obama favors, the GOP opposes. Simple as that.
A conservative colleague at school today tried to argue that the only reason the nuclear option happened now is to distract from the failure of the affordable care act and Obama's plunging approval ratings.

Except of course as low as the President's ratings are, those of the Republicans in Congress are far lower.

And despite dissatisfaction with parts of the roll out of ACA, Americans want to fix it, not replace it as the Republicans argue.

Besides, had the Republicans allowed even ONE of the three nominees to the DC Circuit through, it is not clear that Reid would have had the necessary votes for the nuclear option.

One can talk about the parties switching positions of the nuclear option and filibusters since G. W. Bush was President.   That may be true.  But then, the Democrats filibustered very few of Bush's nominations.

And if you want to go back further, when the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Reagan's nomination of  Robert Bork, he insisted upon a floor vote and got it, where his nomination was again rejected.  Here you have well-qualified nominees who have cleared the committee who are being denied votes.

The Republicans have chosen to abuse the rules to undermine the legitimate functioning of government. Sen. Tim Kaine was on Chris Hayes tonight and made that point, that the Senate Rules are being used to nullify laws

(I could not get the embed to work, so try this link. The portion of the video with Kaine is well into the embedded video - sorry MSNBC does not allow one to advance through it).

It is thus well past the time to call them on it.

After all, as Robinson notes in his penultimate paragraph:  

The Senate was designed by the Founders to move slowly, not to be paralyzed. Republican obstruction of presidential appointments makes the government less able to do the people’s work — and less reflective of the people’s will. Elections are supposed to have consequences.
There is no doubt in my mind that Reid finally did the right thing = he finally had the votes.

As far as the Supreme Court, it may well be that Reid did not have the necessary votes were Justices included in the deal.  For what it is worth, the Democrats as far as I know have never used the filibuster to block a Republican nominee to the Supreme Court.  That also may have influenced.

In any case, let me end as I began, with how Robinson ends:

It was time to push the button.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (27+ / 0-)

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 08:17:01 PM PST

  •  If the Republicans try to filibuster a Supreme (3+ / 0-)

    Court nominee, they will have to explain themselves.  Whereas, they were giving the lame excuse that there are enough judges in the lower courts regardless of qualifications.  So, that helps a bit.

  •  Jeez Eugene, the Founders Weren't the Framers. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Except in what passes for the minds of the teabaggers.

    The founders gave us the Articles of Confederation based on states not people having rights, and states not people having sovereignty. And there was no promotion of the general welfare, nor a ban on religious tests for office or trust under the United States, nor a ban on establishment of religion.

    The founders' system was such a failure that George Washington had to talk his underpaid army out of overthrowing the government, and many of the founders soon joined with others to frame the system that replaced it.

    --A system which however more advanced was over a century out of date economically in its own time.

    The framers gave us a system of government in which 51 people can set rules for their club allowing capture of the government over 1/3 billion.

    With 30-40 nations outranking us in any number of key measures of quality of civilization, and none of them using our system, the triage assessment is throw our system out for any of theirs and then we can analyze.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 09:52:32 PM PST

  •  The WaPo (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, Mostel26

    slate of usual suspects was in their high wank druthers.

    Ruth Marcus and Dana Milbank. What a high wire act.

    The obvious end point is to ball ones fist more in sorrow than in anger at the Democrat. That is always the obvious end point. In WaPoNia, the Republican Party is assumed to be the natural governing party of the United States. It has been this way for years.

    But what to do, what to do, when what you are balling your fists more in sorrow than in anger over was so overwhelmingly provoked?  


    Note that it was so overwhelmingly provoked, and then ball your fists more in sorrow than in anger at the Democrats anyway.

    Senate Democrats made an understandable mistake in dramatically curtailing the use of the filibuster .

    It’s understandable for the obvious reason: Republicans all but forced the Democrats’ hand with unprecedented obstruction of nominees.

    Even assuming that line holds, eliminating the possibility of filibustering lower-court nominees will fundamentally change the calculus of judicial appointments. Presidents will understand that in picking judges they have to count only to 50, which will embolden them to press the envelope, ideologically and otherwise.

    Republicans will be empowered to pick more conservative judges, Democrats more liberal ones. Perhaps this will make for a more vibrant judiciary. I fear it will create one that is more polarized and possibly less well-qualified.

    Ladies and Gents, I give you Ruth Marcus.

    Ruth Marcus, please, the next time you are at a DC cocktail party I would like for you to meet Mssrs. Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts. They sit on the most probably the most powerful court on the planet.

    Here's a hint. There was a rigid ideological litmus test to their currently being where they are.

    Unless a wormhole opens up in the Space Time Continuum to Pinochet's Chile or Franco's Spain, The GOP slate of what passes for an acceptably conservative Jurist is pretty much at Peak Freak pre-Nuclear option.  

    Further, you will find no "liberal version" of said Justices anywhere on the bench. Just not being a Conservative is enough for you to be a Marxist in our politics today.

    Harold Ford is Bernie Sanders to the current Conservative Movement. As Blanche Lincoln is Elizabeth Warren to them.

    This has been the way things have been for ages.

    Over 90 Senators voted to confirm Antonin Scalia, who is about as foamy-mouthed as Mark Levin or Glenn Beck, and sounds about as informed as those clowns.

    How do you have a job in Washington DC, covering American politics, and write the above?


    You live in a Village where this is the normal view. Where the America, the GOP, the Democratic Party, and the way things work in Washington DC that only exists in your head is more important than the one that actually exists.

    1993-2013 actually happened.

    How the two parties behave, and have behaved, over the last two decades has a historical record.

    You have to make up your own version of US History to write this stuff.

    And so, we get this kind of crap.

    In the same column citing that Democrats were driven to their "mistake", but by a GOP that, apparently, will really discover they should be packing the courts with Federalist Society extremists. Unlike, say, the last couple of decades or more.

    Oh, and the Democrats too. Because. Both sides do everything equally. Even in a piece of work that cites that Democrats were 'driven' to their 'mistake'.

    Fred Hiatt golf clap. Fred Hiatt fist bump. More Fred Hiatt golf clap.

    Our media is as big a problem as the Movement Conservative GOP.

    Outside of a Koch Brothers funded outfit, the GOP has gotten some serious mileage out of this stupid game where calling somebody a liar is a bigger sin that being a liar, and where being uncivil is a bigger sin that being savage and cruel in the service of the richest and most powerful in America.

    I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

    by LeftHandedMan on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 10:07:41 PM PST

    •  The Democratic Party needs to understand (7+ / 0-)

      something, this is a huge step, but it is also just a starting point.

      It's only going to get fiercer from here.

      As a Democrat, I've been flummoxed for years by this notion that "after x happens, or y is off-the-table thanks to some magic agreement, the GOP will become more interested in good faith good governance".

      Nope. You beat them, they get worse.

      Going Nuclear is going to make the GOP worse, not better. They had it coming. But now you have to be prepared to keep it up. No bullshit goes unanswered, or you will be swimming in bullshit where you are used to it just being hip deep.

      This is a whap on the wolf's nose, well deserved. But now the wolf feels even more justified in doing whatever ratfucking kneecapping below-the-belt bullshit it feels like doing to win to win.

      And the traditional media is signaling that they are going to carry a lot of GOP water on the "this is payback/blowback for the Nuclear Move". Sigh. So, what else is new?

      You may be forced to do what you did yesterday on policy and Supreme Court appointments sooner rather than later. The GOP pattern is to double-down, not back off.

      Based on what we have seen, the GOP will not allow Barack Obama to nominate a replacement for a Conservative Justice who may die or retire on his watch. They might not even allow him to add another jurist to replace RBG if she, God forbid, passes.

      This can't be a one-time show of force.  

      You have to be ruthless and hardball. Or at least assume no good faith if the GOPer in question has a long history of bad faith. Each time every time. The Right will be citing this as the "reason" for overreaches and abuses they would have committed anyway for a generation. It's best to just accept that.

      You are dealing with a nest of snakes, not people who are interested in'co-governing' with you.  

      They have to fundamentally change how they tactically approach politics from here on out.

      You see bad faith, you treat it as such. Right away.

      You see cheating, you confront it as such. Right away.

      You start off from the most progressive point you can think of, and work from there, you don't start out in the middle and end up somewhere right of a late 90's Heritage Foundation "think piece" on whatever policy is under debate.

      The logic that gave us the Sequester, that kept on cutting deals to "preserve" the filibuster, that went into adopting Movement Conservative policy to achieve liberal outcomes because 'they can't vote against it, it is their idea!'.

      It has to go.

      You throw down the gauntlet, you are signaling that 'it's on' to the Right.

      It actually has to 'be on' once you have done that.

      And not just with the GOP, but with the Village as well.

      You can't be semi-pregnant, and you can't be semi-engaged in checking/rolling back Movement Conservatism and the Enabling Industrial Complex that goes hand-in-hand with why Movement Conservatism dominates so much of what is possible in today's DC. You are all-in, or you are not.

      I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

      by LeftHandedMan on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 10:30:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow. LeftHanded Man, that comment (3+ / 0-)

      should be a diary. It is certainly a terrific rant.

      I regret that I can only rec it once.

      Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

      by Youffraita on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 10:46:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  According to the Constitution... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, cfk, Mostel26, a2nite, Box of Rain

    each chamber of Congress gets to set its own rules. Specifically, Article I, Section 5.

    Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.
    Other than that, Article I mainly establishes responsibilities, qualifications, preliminary numbers of Representatives and the method of determining those numbers in the future (specifically the Census) and defines a quorum. As to the way each House operates well, see above.

    Ultimately the intention of this Article of the Constitution is about the Congress actually doing things. The current Congress, and the Senate in particular, has used its rules as an excuse to not do things. So while there is nothing one way or the other about the filibuster in the Constitution, it is implicit that Congress has the responsibility to take actions. I applaud Senator Reid for changing the rules so that, at least occasionally, the Senate will actually operate as the Constitution intended it to. I applaud Eugene Robinson for explaining why the change had to be made, and I applaud you for writing this diary.

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