Pushing the ‘Nuclear Option’ Button
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published November 24, 2013 on The Washington Times website.
Now, President Obama can nominate the Three Stooges to the federal bench if he wants, and get away with it.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the “nuclear option,” and the Senate voted 52 to 48 to change Senate rules by reducing the number of votes needed for cloture on nominees from 60 to 51 (which could include Vice President Joe Biden’s tie-breaking vote).
Republicans had hoped in vain that the threat of the GOP wielding this white-hot weapon in 2017 would keep Mr. Reid’s finger off the button. It worked when George W. Bush was frustrated at Democrats blocking his nominees and floated the idea in 2005, prompting the bipartisan Gang of 14 to break the nominee logjam.
Do the Democratic strategists know something we don’t? Why are they confident that despite the titanic failures of Obamacare, they can do whatever they want and still hold on to the White House in 2016?
Mr. Obama has already laid the groundwork, hanging a Medal of Freedom around Bill Clinton’s neck while fellow honorees Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem and others applauded at last Wednesday’s White House ceremony. If that won’t persuade millions of undecided Americans to vault Hillary Clinton back into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, then I’m not sure what will.
The Democrats’ narrative is set for the next few years: Obamacare would have worked fine except for the Republicans — especially Tea Party types. Anything that has gone wrong or will go wrong is their fault.
The media, ever faithful to the progressive cause, will feverishly rewrite history to save liberalism from its ever-growing ranks of victims. Future meme: Wasn’t it Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas who said, “If you like your health insurance or green eggs and ham, you can keep it?”
Real history can be annoying, such as then-Sen. Barack Obama’s fiery 2005 speeches opposing the “nuclear option” during a time when Democrats were blocking Bush nominees. Here’s what Mr. Obama said on the Senate floor on April 13 of that year:
“Everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.”
Not to be outdone, then-Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware said a month later, “We should make no mistake. This nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power. It is a fundamental power grab by the majority party … never, to the best of my knowledge, has any party been so bold as to fundamentally attempt to change the structure of this body.” Until now.
As for Obamacare, Mr. Obama did his mea culpa, but then began changing the narrative when he told a group of Wall Street executives last week, “One of the problems we’ve had is one side of Capitol Hill is invested in failure, and that makes, I think, the kind of iterative process of fixing glitches as they come up and fine-tuning the law more challenging.”
In other words, those darn Republicans got in the way, iteratively speaking. If they had tried to fix the iterative problems, we wouldn’t be in this iterative mess. Never mind that the House did, in fact, pass reforms, such as delaying the individual mandate, and forcing members of Congress and their staffs to live under Obamacare like the rest of us, only to see them die in Mr. Reid’s Senate while the White House issued veto threats.
The lies coming from the White House are so bald-faced that even two reporters for The Washington Post, noting that Mr. Obama said several times that the Obamacare rollout failure is ‘on me,'” wrote that the president “faces a consistency problem.”
That’s like saying Miley Cyrus has a modesty problem.
I’m no parliamentary tactician, but conservatives in both Houses had better find ways to throw wrenches into the Obama-Reid machine before it gobbles up the rest of North America. They need to remind Americans daily that Obamacare is not their fault.
They need also to aggressively pursue scandals that the media ignore or minimize. These include the Benghazi killings and the lies that still surround that shameful episode; IRS-gate; NSA-gate; Fast and Furious; “green energy” payoffs; Chicago-style harassment of political opponents; forcing faith-based institutions to pay for abortions and sterilizations; failing to enforce laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act; using the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board to bludgeon businesses and reward cronies and unions; suing states for enforcing immigration laws or for having voter-ID laws; fudging unemployment statistics; hollowing out, feminizing and homosexualizing the nation’s armed forces, and letting France play Thor to our Pee-wee Herman when it comes to Iran’s nuclear threat.
Actually, the horrors of Obamacare alone should be enough to convince Americans that it would not be in their interest to cede more power to an administration and a party that could now, courtesy of Harry Reid, put Moe, Larry or Curly into black robes. Or worse nominees.