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Half-Baked Filibuster Reform: Democrats Poised to Screw It Up, Again

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One has to hand it to the Democrats. At least they are consistent.

Having suffered, and allowed the nation to suffer, the grievous consequences of Republican obstructionism, they believed Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would behave better after President Obama won a second term.

Now, after McConnell 'surprised' them by misbehaving as badly as ever, it appears as if the reluctant Democratic Senators will now vote to eliminate the filibuster for presidential appointees.

But, not for judges. Just for appointees to the executive.

So, as they have done for everything else, from Wall Street Reform to the Affordable Care Act, Democrats will wound the filibuster lioness (or lying-ness), but not put it out of our misery.

What exactly do they expect to happen after this? That McConnell et al. will suddenly start purring like little kittens? That their fangs and claws will be retracted?

Of course not. Republicans will claim an "unprecedented (they love that word) act of power", and use this new excuse to obstruct even more (if that is possible). Even those Republicans who might have been willing to cast an occasional sane vote will now block every single judge the president nominates, and every other measure brought to the Senate.

Do the Democrats seriously believe that they will "win points" with anyone for being "modest" in their approach, or reasonable in their rationale? Indeed, they are already on the defensive, trying to assure people that the change is not so great.

Does anyone seriously believe that if Romney had won the presidency and the Republicans had taken over the Senate that any filibuster rule would have survived? Their paymasters would never have allowed it. The Koch Boys and their fellow travelers would have paid out a half billion dollars and yet allowed their right-wing dystopia to be impeded by what then would have been called a "silly old rule"?

So, what will happen is another round of a nuclear option to get judges approved. It will provide Republicans another opportunity to portray the president as partisan and power-grabbing heading into the '14 elections. Or, there will be no nuclear option and re-elected President Obama will be prevented from putting his stamp on the judiciary, as he has every right to do.

Everyone knows that when one makes a change, it is done all at once. Then, there is a single "episode", it dies down, and becomes the new normal. It is the difference between removing a band-aid in one rapid motion, or pulling it off slowly, hair-by-hair.

Half-measures hand power to the opponents: They make the positive impacts of law or procedural change murkier, but stir opponents to action nonetheless.

The American people, moreover, really do not care about the Senate's little games. They want to see things happen. That is why, if the Romney-Koch faction had won the elections, they would have trampled all process to get done what they wanted. If anyone does not believe this, just look at what the Republican-controlled state legislatures do -- in Michigan, for example, Republican legislative leaders repeatedly said there were required two-thirds majorities when there clearly were not.

Astonishingly, Democrats never seem to learn the lesson.

Well, perhaps not so astonishingly. These are, after all, the Democrats.