Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gang of Umpteen

By Frank Moraes 

Politico reported yesterday, "Reid digs in as Senate Nears Nuclear Option Showdown." While it is good that Reid is indeed moving forward, that isn't what the article is about. Rather, it seems that some Republicans are trying to pitch a new "Gang of Umpteen" to Reid. I am not in favor of this.

Right off the top, I'm skeptical because the Gang of 14 disappeared as soon the Democrats got control of the Senate. Why was that? I thought the whole idea of that group was not just to stop the Republicans from using the nuclear option, but also to make filibuster use more responsible and rare. And the way the Gang of 14 worked was pretty much that the Republicans got whatever they wanted. Pretty much every nominee who would have been filibustered was pushed through by the Gang of 14. In other words, the Republicans might as well have used the nuclear option, there were only a very small number of nominees the Gang stopped. So the question is whether the new Gang of Umpteen would function the same and allow pretty much all nominees through.

Ha ha ha! Wait, I have to catch my breath... My, but that was a doozy! Of course that isn't going to happen.

As usual, what the Republicans are offering the Democrats is the weakest of tea.

This is bad in a couple of ways:

McCain said he and Republicans are trying to strike a deal with Reid would either allow up-or-down votes on seven contentious nominees or at least find "replacements" for those nominees.

First, this doesn't even deal with the problem generally. McCain is suggesting that if they can deal with just these seven nominees, all should be well. But he isn't even offering up-or-down votes on them; he's offering to find replacements. Replacements?! Sure! Why don't we put John Bolton in charge of the National Labor Relations Board. I'm sure that the Republicans in their infinite charity would allow that.

There is a theory out there that it must be hell to be a Republican. By this theory, Republicans don't really want to stand for everything that is wrong and ineffective. But they have to or else they will lose their primary to an even more radical challenger. The problem with this theory is that it doesn't explain the filibuster. Not filibustering a nominee is not the same as voting for him. I don't see how the details of Senate procedure would be an effective challenge in an election. So that leaves us with a Republican Party that really is for everything that is wrong and ineffective.

This provides us with things like the recent spectacle of Eric Cantor announcing a new DREAM Act. And we see it here. Rather than legislating like normal politicians, these people think they can game and finesse everything to their advantage. But they've become so ideologically ossified that now they can't even effectively do that. Find replacements? Really?! 


Of course, I have little confidence that the Democrats won't go along with this pathetic attempt at a compromise. For all I know, Reid will give up the whole thing in exchange for McConnell's word that he won't use the nuclear option when he's in the majority. Time will tell.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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