US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has embraced his inner Doctor Strangelove & convinced enough of his fellow Democrats to end the filibuster rule for all executive & judicial appointments (except for the Supreme Court) by a vote of 52 to 48. In doing so, Reid committed the ultimate flip-flop. Eight years ago when Reid was in the minority, he & other Democrats at the time rightly warned Republicans against embracing the kind of “nuclear option” that would strip the minority party of its rights. By reneging on the deal he made with Republicans just this past July, Reid has demonstrated that his word means nothing. Democrat Carl Levin explained in a floor speech why he voted against Reid’s power grab:
So why do I not join my Democratic colleagues in supporting the method by which they propose to change the rules? My opposition to the use of the nuclear option to change the rules of the Senate is not a defense of the current abuse of the rules. My opposition to the nuclear option is not new. Republicans threatened in 2005 to use the nuclear option in a dispute over judicial nominees. I strongly opposed their plans, just as Senator (Ted) Kennedy did, Senator (Joe) Biden did, Senator (Robert) Byrd did, and just about every Senate Democrat did, including Democrats still in the Senate today….
My position today is consistent with the position that I took then, that every Senate democrat took then, and that’s just back in 2005. That was to preserve the rights of the Senate minority. I can’t ignore that.
Nor can I ignore the fact that Democrats have used the filibuster on many occasions to advance or protect policies that we believe in….
And let us not kid ourselves. The fact that we changed the rules today just to apply to judges and executive nominations does not mean the same precedent won’t be used tomorrow or the next year or the year after to provide for the end of a filibuster on legislation, on bills that are before us, and on amendments….
No Senate majority before us has assumed to change the rules at the will of the majority. Before we do something that cannot easily be undone — and we have now done it — before we discard the uniqueness of this great institution, let us use the current rules and precedents of the Senate to end the abuse of the filibuster. Surely we owe that much to this great and unique institution.
Breitbart columnist Joel B. Pollak feels that the anti-filibuster vote will backfire against Democrats once they become the minority party again (which might happen as early as 2014 if current trends continue to favor the GOP):
The sudden end of the filibuster means that Republicans have no incentive whatsoever to negotiate with Democrats in the future. There is simply no way to trust that Democrats will keep their word. (Barack) Obama and the Democrats may relish their temporary victory, and bask in the applause of a left-wing base desperate for signs of strength in the midst of the Obamacare debacle. But they have set the stage for major political war.
Those Republicans foolish enough to try to work with Democrats will now be tarnished as sell-outs–and with good reason. The party’s moderates will struggle to explain their positions as Tea Party challengers assert the need for bolder leadership in upcoming primary races. And the new Republican majority in the Senate–when it arises–will be tempted to retaliate by exercising majoritarian rule. They will not be fooled again.