The President, like every other President, wants to be as effective as possible in his second and last term because he doesn’t have another election to win. As a result he can turn his entire focus towards the progressive agenda on which he initially campaigned in 2008/2012. And in order to make it stick, to leave a real, lasting legacy, he should have already gotten started on that agenda. Although, he did get an early start with healthcare there are many other things that need to be done 1. Unfortunately, the GOP and approximately 27% of the country 2 absolutely, positively hate and/or fear him have been actively engaging in obstructionism from the very beginning 3.
This is purposeful obstruction has manifested itself in a variety of ways. The most obvious methods have been the House Republicans blocking debate on (much less voting on) meaningful legislation and blocking the President’s nominees. FFS they blocked debate on withdrawal from Afghanistan, jobs bills during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and now Immigration Reform. They don’t even want to talk about the issues unless it’s on TV and in front of the stenographers we used to call journalists. Since there is nothing the President can do about the legislative stalemate going on right now, nothing will get through Congress for the remainder of his second term. This leaves the President with only one option–using the Constitutional powers of the Executive. This is not that unusual as every President uses those powers to various degrees to enact their agenda and reinforce their legacy.
The Republicans knew that this would be his only option so they’ve been obstructing that as well. Blocking nominees to head Executive Agencies and Judicial Appointments is a big deal because some of those positions have been vacant for years 4. And such a vacancy really hurts the effectiveness of the agency AND has a lasting effect on what policies can and will be implemented. And if you doubt that they’ve been willfully and abusively blocking nominees, check out this chart below or this one.
Well, after years of this bullshit Senate Dems and Moderate Republicans finally said enough is enough and they changed Senate Rules to say that a simple majority vote in the Senate is enough to stop a Filibuster on a nominee 5. Before the rule was they needed 60 votes to stop a Filibuster. Of course, the right and the DC Press Corps are weeping about the loss of comity and “the horror, the horror”.
In truth no such comity ever existed, so these “centrist” journalists need to STFUSD. They’ve been bemoaning the lack of collegiality from the President’s Inauguration up to the present without ever acknowledging that the Republicans NEVER wanted to compromise and NEVER would. The President could have put on a hair shirt, crawled on his knees from the White House to the Capital, periodically flagellating himself and they STILL wouldn’t have accepted him with any decency, much less compromise with him. In point of fact, they probably would have found fault with his method (e.g., “he didn’t wear his flag pin”) as an excuse for their refusal. Furthermore, if the recent government shutdown and flirtation with defaulting on our debt didn’t make that plain as day to the DC Press Corpse 6, then they are not only blind, but deaf and dumb as well.
These same idiots are using the term “Nuclear Option” for this change to Senate Rules. Truth of the matter is the real Nuclear Option has been the 5 year-long obstructionism and purposeful lack of governance being perpetrated by conservatives. But you won’t hear that from our supposedly centrist press corpse. Instead the right will market it as the Presidents fault, as just another abuse of his power 7 and another sign that he’s the Antichrist 8 and the stenographers posing as journalists will amplify that message.
1. IMHO healthcare will be his most important legacy akin to the introduction of Social Security by FDR. A couple of generations down the road, historians will marvel at how much it helped. Mark my words because I plan to still be here and I WILL be telling conservatives “I told you so”.
2. It’s no coincidence that this number is the same for both the hard-core conservative base AND the percentage of the U.S. population that routinely vote against their own best interests and are consistently wrong on all major issues–the “crazification factor”. Read the
3. We all suspected way back in 2010 that it was a concerted group effort when Mitch McConnell became Minority Leader in the Senate but we just found out that they planned to do this even before President Obama was even elected.
4. Some judicial nominees have been waiting since 2011 and Richard Cordray was finally accepted after a 2 year wait to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, you know that new bureau that the GOP hated and didn’t want to even exist….
5. Of course, when and if a Republican President is elected Republicans (if they have a simple majority vote will also be able to use this rule to their advantage…..I’m willing to risk it if it means we can move forward.
6. ht Doug J over at Balloon-Juice
8. No link to this filth in the text of my post but if you really want to read about it, here