Thomas Jefferson. James Madison. Benjamin Franklin.
Now add Harry Reid to that list.
That’s the message I took away from Reid’s utilization of the so-called “nuclear option,” the elimination of the filibuster and a two-thirds majority necessary in the Senate for the approval of most presidential nominees and cabinet appointments.
Reid, the Democrat senate majority leader, with an arrogance that seems to be commonplace among national politicians, believes his political savvy is on par with the Founding Fathers, the men who wrote the rules that make our government work.
Both major political parties have threatened to eliminate the filibuster and the two-thirds requirement for nominees over the years. Republicans and Democrats have always accused one another of obstructing a president’s program, of shamelessly blockading that president’s vision of progress through nominees.
And to be fair, President Barack Obama’s nominees have had a particularly difficult road to travel to approval. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that “79 Obama nominees have faced at least one vote to end debate…That is more than double the 38 picks of President George W. Bush.”
But that doesn’t give Reid the right to change rules with which the game is played, like a spoiled child on the playground.
The effect this rule change will have in terms of judicial nominees is particularly unsettling. Judgeships have become overtly politicized, and presidents will now be able to strategically place acceptably ideologically aligned judicial nominees into courts where presidential policy can be ramrodded through the system and made into law with few challenges.
This change may serve the Democrats purposes right now, but my guess is that they’ll come to regret it one day. For all of their talk about respecting the rights of minorities, Senate Democrats have proven that sentiment doesn’t extend to their political rivals.
Michael Gebelein is managing editor of the Lincoln Times-News.