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"God bless Harry Reid. It's because of him that [Neil] Gorsuch is guaranteed elevation to the court. In 2013, as Senate majority leader, Reid blew up the joint. He abolished the filibuster for federal appointments both executive (such as Cabinet) and judicial, for all district and circuit court judgeships (excluding only the Supreme Court). Thus unencumbered, the Democratic-controlled Senate packed the lower courts with Obama nominees. Reid was warned that the day would come when Republicans would be in the majority and would exploit the new rules to equal and opposite effect. That day is here."

--Charles Krauthammer,

Feb. 2, 2017

They call it "the nuclear option," but the phrase might have the wrong determiner. Maybe they should call it "a nuclear option," because there's more'n one. Every time somebody changes a rule in the District of Columbia, the other side screams bloody nuclear option.

In Washington, everything is hyperbole. What we're talking about here is political stuff, nary a fission in sight.

This latest change they're calling the "mini-nuclear option." To get through a backlog of waiting nominees to administration and judicial posts, the majority leader these days, Mitch McConnell, changed the rules to cut the time between ending debate on a nominee and the confirmation vote. That doesn't sound very nuclear to us. But you'd have thought the Constitution was being up-ended if you listened to the Chuck Schumer types.

Democrats have been blockading--The New York Times' description--dozens of nominees sent by President Trump. This latest move pushes those nominees forward. The aforementioned New York Times wrote a story Wednesday detailing the whole mess, and Mitch McConnell's answer to it, but not once mentioned the name Harry Reid. Which doesn't give him the credit he deserves. The newspaper of record needs to look further into the record.

Back in 2013, when he was the majority leader, Harry Reid changed the Senate's long-standing rules so that a simple majority could push through judicial nominees, excepting the Supreme Court. Maybe he listened too much to those on his side of the aisle who talked about the Emerging Permanent Democratic Majority, which is about as permanent as anything else in American politics. That is, ephemeral. Remember in 1932 when the Democrats were going to hold the White House for a generation? Or 1980 when Republicans were?

But what, Harry Reid worry? He had the opposition to roll. And the power to do it. Who knew that elections would be held later, and that perhaps the other party would win, and begin to use the same tricks?

That's the trouble with Harry: What goes around comes around, and some of us tried to explain that to the old pugilist and fabulist from Nevada. But instead, Harry Reid decided the odds were in his favor. And who better than a pol from Nevada to think the odds were on his side, especially when he thought he held fixed dice. Now nominees for Donald Trump will get a fair hearing without having to step through the filibuster minefield.

The papers have said that Harry Reid is in poor health these days, and we truly wish him the best in that regard. Who can wish anything else of any man, we who are mortal? And while there's no doubting Harry Reid knew that politics ain't beanbag, or ain't been since at least Mr. Dooley's time, what is doubtful is that he thought all these nuclear options and mini-nuclear options that he started would one day bear his name: the Harry Reid Rules. And be used for the furtherance of the other side.

And the legacy of the former majority leader goes on. As much as his party might hate it now.

Editorial on 04/07/2019

Print Headline: Mini-nukes unleashed


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  • Lifelonglearner
    April 7, 2019 at 5:22 p.m.

    And here we have another classic example of the escalation excuse. They did something we did not like, so we can do something worse. Which leads to a repeated slide toward the bottom. The traditions of the Senate were structured to promote thoughtful compromise, but rabid partisanship is too quickly turning it into another version of the House.