Thursday, September 29, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: A First Override Of An Obama Veto

The first successful override of a veto by President Obama
has occurred, and is much more than a footnote.

For Democrats, it is an alarum to the prospect of their party
failing to win back control of the U.S. senate. This would be
equally a warning whether or not their nominee, Hillary
Clinton, wins the presidency in November. If she does win,
but does not control the senate, she is likely to face stalemate
her entire term, because so many more incumbent liberal
senate seats than conservative seats will be up for re-election
(thus favoring GOP control of that body) in 2018. If she does
not win against Donald Trump, the period of 2017-19 would
likely resemble 2009-2011 when the Democrats had regained the
White House and controlled both houses of Congress (resulting
in, among other matters, the passage of Obamacare). Only this
time, the conservatives would be in charge.

For Republicans, the override is a trumpet call to protect their
majorities and Congress, and means that the GOP leadership
is now emboldened to block more of the policies of the Obama
administration they oppose. Many conservatives have attacked
Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for
failing to do just this, but now (just before the election) the
Republican congressional leadership can point to a success.

The specific issue arising from the legislation is of less
immediate consequence than the unprecedented override itself.
For once, the GOP leadership put their Democratic colleagues
in a bind --- they simply could not be seen as preventing 9/11
families from seeking legal redress from Saudi Arabia. It would
have been a PR disaster for the liberal party in the final days of
the 2016 campaign. Since there are legitimate controversies in
the bill, President Obama might have avoided the override by
working with the GOP leadership before the legislation passed,
but he has become so accustomed to congressional Democrats 
doing his bidding in the past, and he is so politically isolated,
that he forgot or chose to ignore that the first rule in politics is
survival. Having to choose between a lame duck president or
defeat in November, it was not a difficult choice for most
Democrats. And now, the override genie is out of the political

If you are Democrat rooting for Hillary Clinton or a Republican
rooting for Donald Trump or an independent worried about
stalemate, the override of the president’s veto is equally, but for
different reasons, a wake-up call that beginning in 2017 it won’t
likely to be political business as usual.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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