The Nuclear Option: Republican Obstructionism in the Senate Must Be Defeated at all Costs
By Ken K. Gourdin
President Obama and his chief congressional ally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have hit upon a solution to the problem of those intransigent Republicans, and it comes very close to acting as though they don’t exist. The so-called “Nuclear Option” now has been implemented in the Senate, whereby a sixty-vote supermajority that used to be required to end a filibuster against certain presidential appointees now has been scrapped in favor of a simple majority vote.
Never mind that today’s “useful tool” in allies’ hands to defeat opponents’ “obstructionism” may become a “deadly weapon” in opponents’ hands tomorrow (and, no doubt, will be used against the new oppressed minority who are simply trying to do “the right thing”). In the eyes of Democrats who supported this change in Senate rules, that, apparently, is a risk worth taking.
The change can be filed under the heading, “What a Difference Eight Years Make!” Eight years ago, President (then-Senator) Obama, Vice President (then-Senator) Joe Biden, Senator Reid, and their like-minded fellows were dead-set against implementing the Nuclear Option.1 To be sure, many Republicans, who were in the minority in 2005, said the same thing about Democratic “obstructionism” then that Democrats are saying about Republican “obstructionism” now.2 However, cooler heads among Republicans apparently were able to persuade enough of their colleagues in 2005 that when it came to the Nuclear Option, something they viewed as a useful tool while in the minority later could be wielded against them as a weapon if-and-when they retook a majority of Senate seats later on. Not so with Senate Democrats.
So-called Democratic “obstructionism” apparently can be filed under the heading of normal political give-and-take and ebb-and-flow (or under Democrats righteously endeavoring to “save the world as we know it” from those evil Republicans, if you prefer). Republican obstructionism (absence of both quotation marks and “so-called” qualifier intentional, since, obviously, we’re now talking about the real thing, rather than about normal political give-and-take and ebb-and-flow), however, is a thing so odious and intolerable that it must be done away with at all costs, including accepting the very real prospect that what, today, is simply a useful tool in our hands becomes a weapon in the hands of our opponents tomorrow.
Those who support the change now will cross that bridge when they come to it, I suppose. But don’t be surprised to hear them decry the very change they supported when they get to that bridge. After all, we are talking about politicians, who, in general, are the very personification of the old saying that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
- Matthew Boyle (November 21, 2013) “Reid, Clinton, Obama, Biden all opposed nuclear option eight years ago,” Breitbart.com, accessed on line at http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/11/21/Harry-Reid-Hillary-Clinton-Barack-Obama-Joe-Biden-all-opposed-Reid-s-Senate-nuclear-option-eight-years-ago on November 29, 2013.
- No author listed (No date listed) “Mitch McConnell among flip-floppers on Senate’s ‘nuclear option,’” Politifact, accessed on line at http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/nov/22/mitch-mcconnell/mitch-mcconnell-among-flip-floppers-senates-nuclea/ on November 29, 2013