Once the president regains his footing, he can once again lead the government and Boehner will have nowhere to hide. Nov. 21 was twenty years in the making -- but it came, and it is a very big deal.
When viewed from an international perspective, three other features -- the extraordinary scope of its powers, its drastic misapportionment, and the exceptional weakness of its leadership structures -- make the U.S. Senate a true global outlier.
The GOP will continue to scream that their act was a naked demonstration of the danger of the tyranny of the majority. It wasn't. It simply ended the far worse tyranny of the minority against Obama's court picks.
The Senate Democrats' lond-deferred success in reforming the filibuster rule for executive branch and judicial appointments will have reverberations that are only gradually being appreciated. Not only will 76 long-blocked appointments -- a record -- now go forward in short order. Obama, if he chooses, will be able to appoint more robust progressives. One of the best pieces of news in the filibuster story was the report that Obama personally got into the act, working the phones to help enlist the last few Democratic votes for reform. This may bode well for more hands-on leadership by a president whose trademark has been reticence.
That explosion you heard this week was Harry Reid going nuclear, as the Senate voted 52-48 to eliminate the ability to use filibusters to block most Judicial and Executive branch nominees. Republican Senators hysterically decried the move as "a raw power grab," "Obamacare II" and "scary and dictatorial." In fact, it was Republican senators who forced the issue by filibustering nominees at an unprecedented rate, including -- for the first time ever -- a cabinet nominee. Half the nearly 170 filibusters of presidential nominees in U.S. history have happened since Obama -- who was accused of "packing" the DC district court simply for trying to fill vacancies -- took office. It's still unlikely any real solutions will come out of our gridlocked congress, but at least now the Senate can't make our other two branches of government just as unproductive. Ka-boom!
Since President Obama took office, Republicans have used the filibuster an average of 14.4 times per year to block his nominations. That is 50 times higher than the 1952-2008 average, and more than 14 times higher than during the administration of President George W. Bush. It is a shame that the Republicans brought things to this pass. The filibuster is a useful tool to prevent a president whose party controls the Senate from pushing through the nomination of an appointee who is incompetent, who lacks integrity or whose views are truly outside the "mainstream" of respectable opinion. That we have now lost that important safeguard is deeply unfortunate. But the responsibility for this development rests squarely on the shoulders of the Republican members of the Senate, who have brought this not only upon themselves, but upon the nation. It is a sad day for America.
In fact, it was even a big week just for political anniversaries. Fifty years ago this week, an event of no little importance happened. I speak, of course, tomorrow's 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Doctor Who by the BBC.
The Democrats needed to act, and they did. The threshold for ending debate is now a simple majority and not a super-majority. It was an astonishing and historic moment.
There's an old adage in politics that the way to win political struggles is to "bring a gun to a knife fight." If this imagery isn't violent enough for you, the subject on the table now is whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is considering what is called the "nuclear option."
Kennedy provided Obama with a roadmap on how an ambitious but untested young senator can use the Senate as a forum, a platform, and finally as a launching pad, to win the presidency. Others in the future, no doubt, will try to follow that same path.
By nominating individuals to fill seats already vacant on that court, President Obama (like President Bush before him who had four nominees confirmed to fill vacant seats on the D.C. Circuit) is merely fulfilling his constitutional duty.
Let's be real. When it comes to drugs, "public safety" is the last thing on the minds of our elected officials. You don't think pot has been illegal ...
There was good news last week and bad news last week when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, and weirdly enough, for the first time possibly ever, it was the same news.
What if Snowden had not revealed that shocking information on the vast government surveillance system that was hidden from the American public but known to Feinstein and other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee?
Justice Thomas? He was confirmed 52-48, in a Senate with a Democratic majority. Could you imagine a Mitch McConnell-led Senate approving an Obama nomination of someone as far to the left as Thomas is to the right? And wait a minute, I thought it took 60 votes.
With each cut, our country pushes more Americans down the food cliff. How long until we stop noticing the fall? This Thanksgiving, as many of us sit at our tables for an annual feast, more of our fellow Americans will have less to eat.