The most florid arguments against the so called “nuclear option,” now widely considered as a measure that might be useful in passing the health care initiatives of President Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and the better angels of Hillary Clinton’s nature were made in 2005 by the Democratic politicians mentioned above.
A stern warning issued at the time by present Vice President Joe Biden was especially bracing.
In 2005, confronting an assault on the Republic by Republicans who were attempting to end a Democratic filibuster by employing the nuclear option, present Vice President Joe Biden said:
“I say to my friends on the Republican side: You may have the field right now, but you won’t have it forever. And I pray God: When the Democrats take back control, we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing…”
Sen. Chris Dodd, who for more than 30 years had honed his oratory in the senate, rose to the occasion with a speech that even Sen. Robert Byrd, often complimented by Dodd as a rhetorician of great merit, might have found exemplary.
“I’ve never passed a single bill,” Dodd said of himself, “worth talking about that did not have as a lead co-sponsor a Republican, and I don’t know of any single piece of legislation that’s been adopted here that didn’t have a Republican and a Democrat in the lead. That’s because we need to sit down and work with each other. The rules of this institution have required that. That’s why we exist. Why have a bicameral legislative body? Why have two chambers? What were the framers thinking about 218 years ago? They understood, Mr. President, that there is a tyranny of the majority…”
Other Democratic senators, most notably Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, also spoke darkly about the tyranny of the majority. Pointing to Republican bad manners, Schumer intoned that Republicans were not above changing the nearly sacred rules of the senate to gain a temporary benefit. Pounding the podium for effect and brandishing a closed fist, Schumer said, “They want their way every time (pound). And they will change the rules (pound), break the rules (pound), misread the Constitution, so they will get their way.”
Led by an alluring candidate whose executive experience was more deficient than that of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Democrats did manage a little more than a year ago to gain control of both houses of congress.
Vice President Biden – who had prayed to God that Democrats, once having moved into the majority, would have the strength of character to avoid the near occasion of sin that Dodd also had condemned – is no doubt secretly disappointed that some or all of the orators of his party are not pledged to live up to his expectations.
The Democrats, for some time wielding a veto proof majority in both houses of congress, are now poised to pull the trigger on their very own nuclear option.
Perhaps Biden’s God will wink at their veniality.
News Channel 8 reports on Dodd’s surprising conversion.
“We did it on the Bush tax cuts, for instance,” said Dodd, “which was a major issue a few years ago. I’m not in favor of doing it on health care, but I also believe the issue is so important that I think the issue trumps the process.”
And Dodd, who bowed out of a defense of his seat this year, proffered some useful advice to his fellow Democrats seeking election: “You get blamed for having tried and you get blamed for having failed. I think you better go home and say; ‘we got something done.’ Let the other side be critical. Talk about the things we did that people like.”
In an attempt to declare his independence of both the left wing of his party and the Obama administration, senatorial hopeful Attorney General Richard Blumenthal seems to be carving out a middle way for himself. He has, for instance, supported Obama’s aggressive war in Afghanistan and yet has differed with the president on the question of civil trials for the terrorists involved in the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers in New York. But as yet, no one has asked the man who hopes to replace Dodd in the senate whether he agrees with the sentiments flourished by Dodd in the Bush administration or those recently unveiled by the outgoing senator in the post Bush era.