For whatever else he is, Democratic U.S. Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid is not stupid. So when he set into motion
the “nuclear option” of removing the more than 150- year-old
tradition of the filibuster from the senate rules, he had to have
a very good political reason to do so.
I think the Daily Caller’s Mickey Kaus said it best when he
pointed out that the partial elimination of the filibuster was
in large part designed to get through President Obama’s
appointees to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals,
the powerful court that decides issues of federal regulation,
and is second only in its impact to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kaus points out that bureaucratic regulation is now the largest
employer in DC, surpassing lobbyists and congressional staff.
Mr. Obama’s appointees have been blocked so far the
conservative majority on this Court, but when his appointees
are confirmed, the liberal members will have the majority.
This will ensure for some time that the current “progressive”
regulation mania perpetrated by the Obama administration
will likely be upheld, and that the thousands of regulation
lawyers now working in DC and environs will be at their posts
long after Mr Obama and his cohorts leave office.
Although Mr. Kaus mentions it, I want to stress the insight that
Mr. Reid has inevitably come to the conclusion that the future
is not bright for his party and his philosophy past the 2014
elections, and that time was running out to have the president’s
appointees confirmed and at work on the Court.
The political truth is, and Mr. Reid knows it, there is now no
short term recourse to having a “progressive” majority on the
DC Court of Appeals. For the time being, the filibuster is still
operative for Supreme Court nominations, but as many have
pointed out, should a vacancy occur between now and 2016,
Mr. Reid and his “progressive” comrades will be tempted to
change that, too (if they still have a majority), especially if it
is becoming clear that a Republican will likely be elected
president in 2016.
Federal court appointees are “life” appointments, and this
circumstance works to the advantage of whichever party
controls the White House. When a Republican is president,
he or she will also work to put his or her choices on the various
federal courts, low and high.
This brings us to the central point that elections matter VERY
much (in spite of the complaint by many on the right and left
that their vote doesn’t really count). It is also a rebuke to those
in both parties who want to vote only for candidates who agree
more or less completely with them, and in so insisting, cause
their party’s candidates to lose otherwise winnable elections.
There are “right wingers” and “left wingers” in both parties
today who are intent on sabotaging their own real interests by
defeating incumbents and candidates who are not “pure,”
who (Heaven Forbid!) seek to legislate and lead by compromise,
negotiation, and conciliation with the support and interests of
the nation’s always largest constituency, the political center.
Elections count. Winning elections counts. Harry Reid has been
the “dictator” of the senate of the past few years, but now as his
power begins to recede, he is trying to add tools to his power. If
the political center, both right and left, does not reassert itself
next year and in 2016, “dictators” and demagogues will continue
and increase their domination of the national political
conversation at a time when, in this observer’s opinion, we will
need primarily critical problem solvers in the nation’s capital.
Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.