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Pierce writes: "If the country hands this kind of power over to the Republican party as the Republican party is presently constituted, then the country deserves everything it gets."

Senator Harry Reid addresses the press. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Senator Harry Reid addresses the press. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Nuclear Fallout

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

22 November 13


believe that somebody who looks quite like me -- and, oddly enough, was wearing my socks -- predicted yesterday that Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post would not take well the adjustment of the Senate rules whereby Barack Obama will actually get to be president for a couple of years. The Civility Fairy did not disappoint.

The straw that broke the Senate's back was Republican refusal to allow President Obama to fill any of three vacant seats on the federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit - not on the grounds that any of the nominees was unqualified but simply because conservatives would be better off with the current balance on this important and closely divided court. This was not the sort of "extraordinary circumstance" that both sides had agreed would justify a filibuster. If this obstruction-as-usual finally eroded the patience of frustrated Senate Democrats, it's hard to blame them.

OK, then don't.

Too late.

Judges are different, and this is where the Democrats erred. Their move - unlike previous proposals - eliminated the filibuster except for Supreme Court nominees. The simple reason for subjecting judicial nominees to a higher hurdle for approval: lifetime tenure. This is not to argue that filibusters should be routine or that Republicans were justified in the frequent deployment of a tactic they once denounced. But there are circumstances, even outside the context of the Supreme Court, in which a judicial nominee might be so outside the mainstream or otherwise unqualified that filibustering would be justified.

Except, of course, back here on planet Earth, the nominees that the Republicans were blocking -- especially Patricia Millett -- were ridiculously well-qualified and represented nothing if not this president's maddening habit of trying to find the best person for the job. Also, anyone deploying this argument in a column that does not also contain the name "Antonin Scalia" and the phrase "99-0" is someone best ignored, which this blog has tried to do in regards to Ms. Marcus since she decided to complain in print that the language in a teenage girl's tweet made her feel icky. Thank you for sharing.

(Also, The Civility Fairy had a helluva week. She also explained to Mary Cheney that it really was her fault that he sister, Liz, is a prancing, sociopathic bigot. Some people should cash their paychecks with an overcoat over their heads.)

Marcus was not alone, of course. Dana Milbank chimed in, as well.

Democrats were fully justified in stripping Republicans of their right to filibuster President Obama's nominees - yet they will come to deeply regret what they have done.

And thus does Milbank, again, sum up the phenomenon of the courtier press in one semi-elegant sentence. Well-played, sir. Democrats were right to do what they shouldn't have done because...Republicans!

But Reid's remedy - calling a simple-majority vote to undo more than two centuries of custom - has created a situation in which the minority leader, Mitch McConnell (Ky.), is expected to use the minority's remaining powers to gum up the works, and to get revenge when Republicans regain the majority.

If the country hands this kind of power over to the Republican party as the Republican party is presently constituted, then the country deserves everything it gets. There are no moderate Republicans any more. There is no bipartisan solutions because one party is not interested in governing the country if the people are silly enough to vote for a president that party doesn't like. (This, it should be said, is something that the newly feisty Harry Reid should explain to "moderate" Democrats like Joe Manchin and Mark Pryor, of whom it already is being said will hold the "balance of power" in the new Senate order. You will do what the leadership tells you on the big-ticket items -- which include judges -- or you will find out what life is like on the Post Office Commitee.) In almost every poll, the American public is crying out for solutions, and most of them are solutions supported by this president and by the Democratic majority in the Senate. This is what the Republicans determined to block. Now, it's harder for them to do it. If they don't act to wring the crazy out of their party, then the president and his party should use every legal means available to do it for them. It's time for constituent services in the districts that elect the crazy people to suddenly feel the pinch of reduced resources. It's time to get very tough on voting rights. Everywhere. Time to subpoena some attorneys general. Eric Holder, come on down. And please, for the love of god, stop reading The Washington Post. your social media marketing partner
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