McCain didn’t call out our own Senator Roy Blunt by name, but the implication is clear; the shoe is clearly measured to fit Blunt and he’ll just have to wear it. So how did Blunt who is usually very careful to try to appear reasonable when he’s in front of adults (his Republican base is another matter – witness the Obama “monkey” comments) earn the vituperation of the admittedly often vituperative McCain?
Remember back when Democrats who had had enough of GOP obstructionism changed the requirements for approval of presidential appointments to a straight-up majority vote rather than a super majority of 60 votes? The change only went so far; it didn’t apply to legislation or to appointments to the Supreme Court. And it took lots of provocation and unfilled positions before Harry Reid was moved to act:
It represented the culmination of years of frustration over what Democrats denounced as a Republican campaign to stall the machinery of Congress, stymie President Obama’s agenda and block his choices for cabinet posts and federal judgeships by insisting that virtually everything the Senate approves be done by a supermajority.
And do you remember what Republicans said at the time? I believe that there were accusations of “irreparably damaging” the Congress and disregarding “constitutional prerogatives” along with threats of a bad outcome for Democrats down the line. Our own Republican Senator Roy Blunt echoed Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s sinister threats of bad times ahead for folks who dared stymie GOP obstructionism:
“The last time the Democrats decided they were going to do something all by themselves it was Obamacare,” said Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican. “And I’m pretty sure they regret doing it that way and my guess is they’ll regret this at some point too.”
Now that it’s proving successful, I doubt that there are many Democrats who regret Obamacare, but Blunt, who apparently never forgets a grudge, thinks that he can insure that Democrats regret changing the filibuster rules. Along with fellow Republican Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Mike Leeof Utah, Blunt is proposing a similar change to the approval process for Supreme Court nominees.
Oddly, though, as Politico notes, not all Democrats are as disturbed by the proposed expansion of the rule change:
“We’re witnessing a massive flip-flop in slow motion,” said Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “Democrats appreciate the vote of confidence from Republicans in the wisdom of our rules change.”
It seems that whether or not our pols approve of changing the rules that govern congressional approval of judicial nominees depends on how confident they are that their party will take the White House and Senate in 2016. And many Democrats aren’t necessarily sure that 2014 presages a GOP victory in a presidential election in which most of the Senate seats that are up for grabs will be, contrary to the last election, in less GOP-friendly states. And of course, they’re also watching with glee the gathering of rightwing clowns, ethically-challenged governors and GOP establishment retreads who are now declaring their presidential ambitions.
In fact, the most outspoken condemnations of the Blunt/Alexander initiative comes from a Republican:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) warned his colleagues about the “sheer hypocrisy” of such a move. “We said this was outrageous what they did,” McCain said. “Not only how they did it, but what they did, OK? Some of my Republican colleagues seem to have forgotten that. Some selective amnesia.”
Sheer hypocrisy! Hear that Roy Blunt? John McCain is shocked by your sheer hypocrisy. Of course, lots of us here in Missouri could have told him all about how Blunt rolls a long time ago. But it’s not a bad thing to have Blunt outed by one of his own party, even if it is coming a bit late. As Eric Posner observes in Slate:
… . When senators argue about the filibuster, they appeal to the public interest, but if their position on the rule always reflects their political interests, then they are, essentially, lying. It all seems like a game.
A game. Indeed. But, of course, it’s a game with potentially deadly consequences. It’s just too bad that nowadays the GOP can’t find any players that aren’t plain and simple liars and hypocrites. I know why Democrats had to change the initial rule; I also know why Republicans are proposing to expand the change. The reasons aren’t even remotely similar. I’m with John McCain on this one.