Nuclear miscalculation by Senate Republicans

The nuclear option passed the same way the First World War began: miscalculation. In the nuclear option's case, the Republicans calculated that President Obama could be rolled on judicial nominations and that Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would let it happen. They sure were wrong.

The sheer number of filibusters was unprecedented and out of control. Half of the total number of filibusters in American history occurred against one president, Barack Obama. The attempt by Senate Republicans to nullify the election and reelection of Obama by abusing long-held customs and courtesies of the Senate was unprecedented.

ADVERTISEMENT
Voters will not react against — and may react in support of — Reid's move to end the obstruction and dysfunction of the Senate. Senate Republicans broke thier promise to Reid, the full Senate and the American people that they would limit filibusters to extraordinary circumstances. It is not an extraordinary circumstance for a Democratic president to offer nominations for his Cabinet and the courts.

What was extraordinary was the bad faith of Republicans who broke their promise to stop using filibusters as a routine weapon of mass obstruction.

I have discussed filibusters with Reid many times. He made every effort to avoid having to employ the nuclear option. It was rampant and uncontrollable Republican bad faith and obstruction that violated the tradition, customs and courtesies of the Senate.

The nuclear option vote makes the 2014 elections urgently vital for both parties. Even more, it escalates the stakes for 2016. Democrats begin with two advantages: the strong position of Hillary Clinton, and the number of Republican senators who were elected in 2010 who will be running for reelection, or retiring, in 2016.

Senate Republicans have one last chance. They can offer a compromise that would undo the nuclear option decision, if and only if they accept the president's right to fill his Cabinet and vacant judicial posts, which Democrats might well accept.

Obama was elected in 2008. He was reelected in 2012. Senate Republicans must end their attempts to nullify his elections and their attempts to nullify his presidency in ways that no party has ever attempted against any president.

It was the Senate Republicans who broke the tradition and goodwill of the Senate. They miscalculated. They called Reid's bluff and he played his hand. Good for Reid.

Republicans have nobody to blame but themselves. It was their nuclear miscalculation that led to the nuclear option blowing up in their hands.