Sen. Shelby of Alabama has done us all a favor through his brazen attempt to extort the Obama Administration by placing a hold on 70 critical appointees simply to obtain some financial pork for his state and key contributors.
It was no accident that the extortion happened on the first day of the new Senate - one with 41 Republicans. The filibuster proof Republican minority. It was the equivalent of a Dick Cheney F*ck You.
If anyone had any doubts whatsoever about the Republican minority feelings it's oats and wanting to exercise power as if it were in the majority, I hope they are gone. Sen. DeMint's reference earlier to making health care into President Obama's Waterloo now seems almost quaint. How is this behavior not seen as treasonous by the press?
The question now has literally nothing to do with Shelby. One might have thought he would be ashamed, or that his peers would call him out. This is clearly not the case.
From my point of view, Sen. Shelby should surely be censured by the Senate for depriving the nation of much need talent. Can a censure resolution be filibustered?
The question now falls to Sen. Reid. He can continue to recognize the hold, although he has full discretion not to do so. Instead, he could publicize it, go on television to denounce the audacious selfishness of it, and ignore it. This would force Shelby and his compatriots to filibuster the 70 public servants in waiting, preferably on CSPAN.
The very worst reaction would be to honor the hold and to negotiate with Sen. Shelby in any way over his demands.
As the first battle of the new Senate, lessons will be learned. If Sen. Reid chooses negotiation or capitulation, we can expect future demands to be far greater. And if Sen. Reid is unwilling to deliver the punch Sen. Shelby deserves, he should be replaced by someone who is willing to fight.