Monday, January 28, 2013

A Word In Support Of Harry Reid On Filibuster Changes

I can't join the bashing on Twitter and Facebook that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had taken last week for deciding against bring the so-called nuclear option on filibuster reform to the floor for a vote.

Reid knows that nothing is forever in politics, and the Dems might want the 60-vote filibuster threshold maintained if they were to lose their majority. Could happen, you know, and how would it feel to be hoisted on that petard?

And how would it look right now if, on the one hand, Dems are effectively marginalizing and beating down the GOP for changing the rules to suit their partisan interests (also plenty of Wisconsin examples, here) from adding Voter ID's, to cutting voting hours, to ending same-day voter registration, to shifting Electoral College vote allocations away from traditional raw vote totals - - all self-serving and condemnation-worthy GOP process rigging  - - while also changing the Senate filibuster rule to to get benefit from their current Senate majority?

Reid instead settled for some concessions from GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and yes, I know McConnell quickly sent out a fund-raising letter crowing that he'd won, but McConnell would have raised more money if the allegation was that Dems had gone all dictatorial in the Senate and had overturned historical process for short-term gains, etc.

If the GOP doesn't keep its end of the bargain, then perhaps the Dems, if they retain a majority, go nuclear on the first day of the next session because the GOP proved it couldn't be trusted.

Reid understands the Senate isn't the OK Corral they run over in the House. The Senate is and is supposed to be different, (read: deliberative, hence reasonable).

And Obama will need McConnell's help to get bills over to the House to force that body to take a stand on controversial matters.

If you've nuked the opposition in the Senate, what help might the vanquished offer?

I think Reid did a smart thing knowing it would be unpopular in some quarters.

I'll also bet that there are Dems in Congress and The White House who are quietly relieved they are not embroiled in a huge brawl today over process that, frankly, no one really wins.

1 comment:

Betsey said...

I couldn't agree more, James. Every time one of these extreme ideas comes up, it amazes me that the party proposing the change seems to believe nothing will ever change some day, and the party in charge becomes the party pressing its nose against the window.

I'm so stubbornly old-fashioned, I actually believe that the parties and their leadership might pick up the white flag and begin acting as statesman once again. Leadership instead of one-upmanship.

When dealing with an institution--like the Senate or the U.S. Constitution--incremental, bi-partisan change is always the best. Two good things can come of this: 1) the parties might see the advantages of at least looking like they're working together. Maybe they might learn how to collaborate a bit in the future, eh? 2) If the small change works, the Senate might be encouraged to do more to streamline rules and process later.