Thursday, January 05, 2017

What Democrats Failed to Do on January 3


Yes. I, for one, think of this daily.

by Gaius Publius

It's widely understood, even in Republican circles, that a Supreme Court nomination that should have fallen to a Democratic president was stolen from him by Senate Republicans and will be handed instead to a Republican president, Donald Trump. (In Republican circles, it's not just understood, it's celebrated.)

Democratic Party leadership have four ways they can respond — Not at all, Weakly, Strongly, or Very strongly. "Responding not at all" is not an option, since Senate Democrats (and frankly, institutional Democrats in general) must at least appear to have "seen the Sanders light" and started to stand up for the people — and more frankly, themselves — in this newborn Age of Trump.

Responding with words and not deeds would qualify as "responding weakly." Some actions in opposition and retaliation could be considered "responding strongly," depending on the action, though when you consider that Trump's SCOTUS nominee will serve for life, even the strongest of oppositions — save the full Mitch McConnell response ("oppose everything all the time") — still seems not strong enough by comparison.

Any "very strong" response would necessarily be one that actually "resteals" the nomination back into Democratic Party control and prevents the Trump nomination entirely. Happily, there is such a response — or was. The clock on that response started on January 3 at the very open of the new session of Congress, and ran out just a few minutes after that.

Yet that response would have worked, which is why I'm presenting it to you now. This is your first example of Senate Democrats not choosing a "very strong response" to Republican and Trumpian provocation. For the details, read on.

David Waldman's Plan to Steal Back the Obama's SCOTUS Nomination

This piece was written in December, and it distills thinking by David Waldman (KagroX as was) on how the Democrats can use (manipulate) Senate rules to deny Trump the right to nominate his own candidate for the Supreme Court in place of Merrick Garland. This plan, in other words, puts Merrick Garland on the bench.

I know from personal experience that Waldman knows his Senate rules; he's my goto person when I have questions myself, and I'm not alone in relying on him this way.

From Karoli Kuns at Crooks and Liars, here's the distillation of Waldman's plan (emphasis in original):
Senate Democrats Have One Shot At Saving SCOTUS - Will They?

It is now time for Senate Democrats to take their shot at saving this country from fascists assuming the reins of power in January. It can be done, but it will require them to be courageous and aggressive.

David Waldman (KagroX on Twitter) has outlined how they can confirm Judge Merrick Garland on January 3rd for the few minutes that they will be the majority in the Senate. Waldman is a long-standing expert on Senate procedure and political plays. He was one of the first to call for passage of the ACA via reconciliation in the Senate after Scott Brown was elected.

Here it is, in a nutshell.

On January 3, 2017, Democrats will hold the majority in the Senate for a few minutes, until the newly-elected Senators are sworn in. Biden could convene the Senate in those few minutes and call for a vote. The majority could then suspend the rules and vote in Merrick Garland.

The key here is that VP Biden would have to be willing to convene the Senate and recognize Senator Dick Durbin instead of Mitch McConnell. Durbin moves to re-nominate Garland, and Senate Democrats then vote to confirm him. They will have a quorum for those few minutes.
Kuns appropriately adds:
It's bold. Garland would be confirmed by 34 Democrats and no Republicans. It will certainly enrage Republicans, but they're already enraged and full of hubris about how they're going to screw Democrats anyway, so what do they really have to lose?

Not much. It takes courage. It takes a resolve to do what's right for this country, to reclaim the Supreme Court nomination Republicans think they stole from us. It takes backbone.

Here's where the rubber meets the road. We're not talking about "comity" anymore. We're talking about conviction and confirmation.
Is this a legitimate use of Senate rules? Yes. Using the rules within the rules is legitimate (legal) by definition. Would the Republicans pitch a total fit if this happened? Of course, but they do that anytime they lose and some times even when they win.

Should Democrats care about Republican objections? No. But are they bold enough to do this? Of course not. We know that because they didn't do this.

I kind of hate to say this as early as I'm saying it, but "Ladies and gentlemen, these are your Senate Democrats in action." Or inaction, as the case may be. This counts as responding "not at all." Get ready for weak, but ineffective, responses later to show they have a pulse.

Why This Matters

This matters for two reasons, not just one. First, it's a fairly damning, in my opinion, indication of what to look for from the rump Clinton-Obama leadership team in the Senate. Will they act boldly in the Age of Trump, or just appear to? Jury's out, but it doesn't look promising.

And second, as Clinton, Obama and every institutional Democrat with a voice and a microphone reminded us constantly during the campaign — The Supreme Court Matters. But enough to do anything about, or or anything effective? Apparently not, despite the campaign season hysterics.

Remember the rule: The role of money in politics is to neuter Democrats and enable Republicans. I'm afraid we're about to see a string of examples of this, starting with the one just cited.


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At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A feature, not a bug. Dem leaders WANT another Scalia on the court, so they have another excuse as to why they can't overturn Citizen's United, etc. Remember that Schumer voted for cloture on Alito.

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stop with the hypothetical "Dems acting boldly" hallucinations.

Jon Stewart regularly called out the Democraps as, and I quote, "pussies" for 17 years. They are MORE corrupt and BIGGER pussies now than ever before (relative to bold action on behalf of people).

Or you could look at it from THEIR perspective. They are effective in advocating for their donors in the .01%.

The .01% that owns and operates all facets of government WANTS a fascist supreme court. When Roberts was seated as chief, I'm sure nearly all of the .01% had a long and intense orgasm.

And when those guys are happy, their servants in the R and D "parties" are rewarded.

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd agree that the Dems have dramatically neutered themselves by courting money rather than voters.

Here is the essence of "the plan" for those as dense as I: One third of U.S. Senate seats were up for re-election this year. Those terms expire at noon on January 3 and the new incoming class will be sworn in minutes later. During that gap, the Senate will only have 67 sitting members - and a majority of those 67 members will happen to be Democrats.

Here's a new "plan" for the Dem Senate, and House, caucuses:
"extract collective head from collective nether region."

John Puma

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgotten link at 10:53 AM, re "the plan"


At 12:51 PM, Blogger VG said...

Back in the old days of FDL, various commenters (Dem apologists- and by no means all commenters) kept making excuses for the Dems, as they failed to use their power.

A particular phrase I remember was "they're just keeping their powder dry ... for.. (insert excuse)". Or, another, "oh, Obama's playing five dimensional chess-- just you wait and see...".

I can't remember exactly when I gave up on the Dems. But it was a long long time ago. Anyone remember this?

Pelosi: Bush Impeachment `Off the Table’

A perspective on that, at the time, linked below. (The one part I don't agree with has to do with replacing Pelosi with Steny Hoyer)
snip--Yet motivated by partisan concerns over the 2008 elections, the new speaker is following President Bush around like a sheep while he solidifies an imperial presidency and diminishes the Congress into irrelevancy.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger VG said...

Sorry for the duplicate. Inadvertent- computer glitch. I can't remove it myself, alas.

And, John Puma- 2 new comments from me re: Erlich discussion. Could you please go and have a look?

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

Thank you Gaius, for explaining and providing an out although it was not used. However, who said all of the 34 Dems would have stuck together and courageously done this? I would guess the Dems would not have had all 34, so this whole thing is a moot point. if this were tried and not all of the Dems voted in favor, it would have been obscenely embarrassing. This is probably what would have happened! Maybe the necessary 34 votes was explored in advance and was not there, so that's why it was not tried! On the other hand, maybe the Dems were such wimps that they did not even bother to try - this seems much more likely and pathetic.

Too bad for us. We are screwed with most of the Dems, who have no courage and no ethics and are on the wrong side of things with the Republicans anyway. .

At 4:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JP, melons are NOT in their sphincters. Their faces are nuzzling all those 7 figure checks from those who tell them what to do... and they dutifully and boldly do what they're told to do by the .01%.

And, yes, VG. I remember Pelosi vowing to violate her oath by taking impeachment off the table so the Ds might win the house. It worked... briefly. But obamanation and the Ds were so obvious about their fidelity to the money (ONLY) in the 111th that they lost the house in 2010 probably forever. $hillbillary and the DNC turned scores of millions off... but drumpf is ghastly so a lot of voters voted D again only because of that.

The D leadershit is even MORE focused on money today, so I don't see them winning many seats back in 2018 no matter what the American Nazi reichstad does. Especially since Pelosi/hoyer/dws and whomever else has earned their tenure will continue to hand pick other money whores over progressives.

At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Pelosi establishing the "a Democratic president is powerless" meme, and then illustrating a prime reason why and how it was true for the then current Democratic president, when she whined that the Dem congress didn't push any useful legislation because it was tired of hearing the nasty reactions of the GOP.

Leadershit, indeed!

John Puma

At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To VG,

I've asked Howie to send you my address.



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