For political junkies, what happened in the U.S. Senate on Thursday was something that only comes along every generation or so. Most of us don’t get to see many extraordinary and far-reaching changes take place in politics like the big change we saw from filibuster obstructionism to democracy, at least as far as that change relates to judicial and executive branch nominees selected by President Obama.
To paraphrase what Churchill supposedly said but no one can actually document: You can always count on Democrats to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.
And after some number of failed “gentlemen’s agreements,” Democrats finally had the guts to pull the trigger, although it wasn’t exactly a nuclear trigger, since Republicans can continue to pretend democracy is a four-letter word as far as any future Supreme Court nominees and as far as any and all legislation is concerned.
But it is a victory for the good guys. The chickens of Republican obstructionism finally came home to roost. And if he is legacy-smart, President Obama will cook those chickens faster than Colonel Sanders on a Sunday after church. Even if O’s last three-plus years are filled with legislative nothingness, the President’s imprint on the federal judiciary, and his administration’s ability to publish regulations that will get a fair hearing before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, will have long-lasting effects. Assuming, that is, he appoints liberalish judges and authorizes people-friendly regulations, actions not quite as certain as I would wish they were.
In any case, the Republican response was predictable, and I admit quite enjoyable. The boyz threaten retaliation should Americans be foolish enough to put them in the Senate majority in 2014 and beyond. Senator Rand Paul, lying, said that the Majority Leader, Harry Reid, “is a bully, dictating to the Senate.” David Vitter, the hooker-loving Christian from Louisiana, tweeted:
This isn’t just a shame for the Senate it’s scary and dictatorial for our country.
Dictatorial? You mean allowing the majority to have its way on most presidential nominations is now a dictatorship? Only with the nurturing of Tea Party logic can such a conclusion hatch in the brain, motivate fear-mongering fingers, and make its way through the Twitterverse without fatally tripping over reality.
How come it is that these Republicans don’t consider Speaker John Boehner’s actions in the House to be dictatorial? He recently shut down the government, is now single-handedly holding up immigration reform, ENDA, and other legislation passed by the Senate, and has done those things without a critical peep or tweet from Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and David Vitter.
This has been a long time coming. Republicans, in their present Tea Party state of mind, wouldn’t have waited so long to make the same move, if they were in the majority in the Senate. They would have before now nailed the nads of a negative minority of Democrats to the walls of the Senate chamber and invited Fox “News” in for a photo shoot. No one who has been paying attention these last few years doubts that.
But finally 52 priestly Democrats in the Senate have figured out that for democracy to mean anything in an age when an anti-Obama demon has possessed the Republican Party, a demon that cannot be exorcised by chanting mumbo jumbo from the Rituale Romanum, they have to bring back a much more American demon-chasing ritual: majority rule.