It has been precious to see the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) manipulate the Senate rules to whittle the filibuster to twig, while decrying how conservatives have abused the same rules to assert their rights in the upper Chamber, and it signals that the Democrats must win now.
In this latest maneuver, Reid, like President Barack Obama with health care, channeled Hall of Fame NFL coach George H. Allen, who traded away draft picks and promising players for his “Over the Hill Gang” teams. When reporters asked Allen: What about the future? Allen always replied: “The future is now.”
Back in the days when the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was still in question, Rahm Emanuel, then-White House chief of staff, urged the president to dial back health care reform, so as not to threaten the Democratic House majority Emanuel has personally crafted leading the House Democratic campaign in for the 2006 cycle.
Obama demurred. Instead of working with Republicans on mutually agreed upon reforms or worrying about vulnerable Democrats, the president jammed through his signature law, flaws and all in March 2010—and seven months later, his House majority was gone.
Political scientists could argue that Obama’s disregard for the future was a political mistake, but it was not. Obama won and kept winning.
Despite Republican control of the House for the last three years, and meaningless show-votes, the president’s health care reform has been fully funded and supported by the GOP leadership. In fact, any delays in the president’s health care regime have been what the English call “own goals.”
Certainly, Obama has nothing to fear from Speaker John A. Boehner (R.-Ohio), who declared Obamacare “settled law” in the aftermath of Mitt Romney’s loss to Obama in the 2012 election.
As Democrats practice their win-now, Republicans continue to mutter on about winning later.
How many times were conservatives told to keep quiet about values and principles, so as not to upset voters? One leader put it as a meeting I attended: “Once Romney wins the White House, and the Republicans have the House and Senate, he will just sign whatever bills Congress sends him.”
Alas, President Romney we hardly knew ye! Where are you now when we need you?
How many times in the 2011-2012 “Tea Party” session did Team Boehner assure conservatives: Yes, we are giving the president everything he wants this time, but on the next continuing resolution or debt ceiling, we are going to fight?
The truth is that the Republican Senate leadership has been Reid’s silent partner in the destruction of the filibuster. On hundreds of occasions more than any other leader, Reid has conflated the Senate’s two-step voting process to diminish the filibuster with unforced concurrence of the Senate Minority Leader Mitchell McConnell Jr.
For all the hype, the filibuster is merely the prolonging of debate, so the first step in Senate voting is to end debate, which before Reid went nuclear, required 60 votes. The second vote on the actual measure at-hand required a simple majority.
Under the Reid-McConnell regime, those steps became one vote with a 60-vote threshold, but with a parliamentary escape hatch that allowed Reid to recall failed measures back to be reconsidered with the simple majority requirement at his discretion.
Thus killed measures, such as the ban on military-style long guns or government approval of all firearm transfers are the undead waiting for Reid’s signal to return to the Capitol like zombies.
Republican grandees have told us not to be afraid of a world without the filibuster. Why? Well, because the GOP will retake the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2017 and the Democrats will have to watch powerlessly as Republicans wield the unchecked power Reid gave them.
Well, my brothers and sisters, is not hope as a strategy, rather is it delusion as a strategy.
Just as it is worthless to live in the past, it is a fool’s errand to predict the future, let alone count on the future to do all your work for you.
Coach Allen was right as rain when he said the future is now.
The GOP’s rollover and play dead act might amuse some, but for conservatives it is another betrayal and mistake.