If I hear one more person say Barack Obama had “control of both houses of Congress for two years and did nothing with it” I am going to tear out what is left of my hair.
Everybody pay attention because this has been said before and people do not seem to be retaining the information.
We had 60 people in the Democratic Senate caucus for the time periods listed in the diary title.
Anyone who wants to start an argument on the topic of "Democratic control of the Senate during the Obama Administration" needs to commit those dates to memory first. I have.
I will print it in big letters to make it easier to see:
July 7, 2009 to August 25, 2009
September 25, 2009 to February 4, 2010.
For convenience I am going to refer to them as "60-A" and "60-B".
Some people keep saying RBG should have retired “while we had control of Congress” so that Obama would have had the opportunity to replace her.
But if RBG had retired on July 7th, it would have been a virtual impossibility to vet, nominate, have confirmation hearings and a vote by August 25.
Even if Obama had a list of pre-vetted names in his desk drawer, very little of substance happens in DC over the summer, and what does happen happens slowly.
Most of the 60-A period is usually summer vacation. It would have been a struggle to get members of the caucus to agree to stay in town over the summer for this purpose. Some would be furious at RBG for retiring at a time that would require them to give up their summer vacation.
Also, Ted Kennedy was critically ill and people in the know expected him to die at any time. So no one with sense would have asked RBG to retire on July 7 knowing that at any moment EMK’s death could reduce the caucus count to 59. That takes care of why RBG did not retire during 60-A.
As for 60-B, that four month period seems like a long time to us. But in fact for a contentious nomination it would have been a short period of time. A good chunk of it would have been lost to the year-end/Christmas recess, or, once again, members of the caucus would have been annoyed that RBG's resignation meant cutting their year-end recess short (and in case this is not obvious, you do not start a critical process like this by pissing off people when you need every single vote).
We also have to remember that Senators only work three days a week even when they are in session, so the number of working days is fewer than you think.
Even more important, the chances of getting someone confirmed who is as liberal as RBG would have been an uphill climb. Rcon intransigence was already on display. They might have rolled the dice and tried to stall, hoping against hope that the Massachusetts Senate seat would flip (as, remarkably and unfortunately, it did). So we had no guarantee of getting a nominee confirmed during 60-B either.
Most important of all, I am going to print the next sentence in even BIGGER letters so it sticks in folks' minds:
Having 60 members in the D caucus
does not automatically translate to 60 votes.
Because our caucus is a bigger tent, we have never demanded or expected marching in lockstep in the same way as the leadership of the authoritarian party does. In 2009-2010 we faced a serious problem from conservadems who knew they held the balance of power in those instances when every single vote was needed.
For proof, just look at what happened with the Affordable Care Act. Every single day somebody is moaning and groaning around here about the negotiations that went on to get the health care reform bill passed, and how we ended up with so much less than we wanted because of wheeling and dealing by conservadems.
Does anyone think they would have behaved any better with respect to appointment of a liberal SCt Justice? Seriously?
If RBG had retired and we ended up with someone less liberal, I am 100% sure that folks would be complaining thus: Why did RBG step down when she knew the conservadems would never support someone as liberal as she is?
And if President Obama had pulled out all the stops for the RBG replacement, I am 100% sure that folks would be complaining thus: why did he use all his political capital in this battle? Now we have no bargaining chips left to pass health care reform (or fill in the name of your favorite legislative priority here)!
RBG was not born yesterday. It was her decision to make and she made it. For God's sake, people who admire her should act like they are aware she is intelligent and savvy and not some idiot who knows nothing about politics! I assume she knew the chances were high that her replacement would be less liberal if she stepped down during 60-A or 60-B. She felt well enough to continue and was probably aware there were cases in the pipeline for which she wanted to be present.
I’m glad Justice Ginsburg was on the Court for Miller v. Alabama, United States v. Windsor, Hollingsworth v. Perry, King v. Burwell, Obergefell v. Hodges and other important cases.
Hell, even her dissent in Hobby Lobby was worth staying on the court for!
Bottom line: the length of 60-A is 50 calendar days / 24 legislative days.
The length of 60-B is 133 calendar days / 72 legislative days.
That is 183 calendar days and 96 legislative days total.
Not very much time for all the legislative accomplishments people apparently think Obama and Dem Senate leadership should have accomplished during those 96 days.
If someone else wants to pull out the calendars and do a different count, have at it. Even if I miscounted and am off by a day or two the general point is made.
I have had these notes for a while for my own reference but I am publishing it today because the Gorsuch nomination will probably bring some folks out of the woodwork to complain about why we didn’t replace the older liberals on the court “while we had 60 votes.”
We had a very brief window and we used that window for the Affordable Care Act. That was all we were able to do. We want our leaders to save the day, but we don’t get a say in what they trade away.
Some folks feel Obama should have used his political capital to shore up the Supreme Court, or for some other legislation instead of Obamacare, but I believe the ACA was still worth it for the lives it has saved. Even if Rcons manage to repeal it during the DJT administration, there are people walking around today, hugging their children today, kissing their spouses today, making scientific discoveries today, creating beautiful art today, because of the few years it was in force. We have to claim that as a victory and a BFD.
In the meantime, hold on to hope and play the long game. We will get control of the government back eventually, because we outnumber them.
And we may get control of the Supreme Court one day too.
Previous TRUE BLUE REPORT diaries
Jan 31: If you’re on overload that’s part of their plan—there’s more than one way to #resist
Jan 30: Interview Skills 101 for reporters attempting to interview KAC and other Rcons
Jan 29: Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness
Jan 28: Blue Ribbon Winners: Women's March participants and #NoMuslimBan demonstrators and...
Jan 27: I wish Steve Bannon would tell me to keep my mouth shut
Jan 26: Thursday Action—Have you ever written a letter to the editor? Here’s how to start
Jan 25: The Asch Conformity Study, inauguration crowds, and the importance of speaking out
Jan 24: #ResistTrumpTuesday—good news day or another paying dues day?
Jan 23: Spy the Lie 101: How to enjoy watching Rcon spokesbot interviews, even KAC!
Jan 22: Why I prayed for the President* today
Jan 21: The only silver lining in the midst of these clouds
Inaugural (!) diary: Stop expecting Republicons to make sense