Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Democrats on the nuclear option

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.

And Dodd?

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.


Fuzzy Dunlop said...

Chuck Schumer's comments are idiotic; arguments over the use of the filibuster of not of constitutional dimension... they are of parliamentary magnitude, a much more mundane variety of crisis. The constitution says nothing about a nearly two thirds majority being required to end debate.

As Evan Bahy pointed out in his New York Times op-ed, the threshold of votes needed to overcome a filibuster has waxed and waned (more waned) and the number is by no means set in stone. The party on the losing end of the so-called nuclear option always claims that the 60 person rule is some God-given inviolable rule. However, despite popular belief, the rules for filibustering and the 60 person threshold to end debate were not written on tablets brought down from the mount by Moses.

Eliminating or circumventing the filibuster may be in bad taste, but no more so than abusing senate rules. It is most certainly not a "constitutional crisis."

Don Pesci said...

I tend to agree with you on the point. However, I did not wish to allow this remarkable oratory to slide down the memory hole and be lost, particularly at this point, when majority Democrats are poised to pass a bill – not a budget bill at that – which is opposed by a majority in the United States.

Dodd’s display, a cross between Patrick Henry and Leon Trotsky, is especially precious and ought to be recalled when the senator begins to argue that Democrats should make us of the nuclear option to thwart the intentions of our constitution's founders. At that word from Dodd, I fully expect to see bicameral tesislatures everywhere sinking into the depths of Hell.

Whether or not to use an extraordinary measure, the nuclear option, to pass a bill that will directly affect about a quarter of the American economy is, as you say, a political question to be decided by responsible politicians, none of whom will be allowed to escape the consequences of their actions. And that is the way it should be.

Marie Devine said...

We can overcome this unconstitutional Health Care Reform bill. Our Federal government was not given this right and it violates our freedom of religion to trust God.

Do what God requires, Fear Not; trust God, not man. Our extended family can ignore insurance. Self insure: 5 family members x 5 monthly premiums = mega dollars saved to pay IF doctor visit needed. Even one person can self-insure instead of about $960 a year premium. Too much profit is made on fear and doctor visits from connected business interests. Defeat medical and insurance plans that have taken advantage of our unbelief and illnesses.
Fear is enemy of faith. We are saved by faith. Most things only require diet, herbs, rest or limited doctor’s office.

It is counter-productive and against God's law, That which you sow, you shall reap. You sow an insurance premium to get an insurance payment of a medical bill. God must allow a medical need so you can get your harvest. God says to Come out from among the world system.

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