There are two things that are undeniably true about Conservatives:
- They generally adore decorum (the unwritten rules) and the written procedures and rules of their governments (whereas Liberals hate the rules if they get in the way of changing the system to appeal to cosmic justice).
- They generally hold long grudges and when they think they’ve been treated unfairly and finally have the chance to act on that anger, it will be through procedural gamesmanship and back-room strategy-sessions, not through an open media campaign as is the case with the left.
Right now, the Senate includes 51 Dems, 48 GOP and one liberal-leaning independent. The Republicans don’t have the power to affect changes they’d like in the Senate, nor the ability to exact cruel, but entirely civilized and legal revenge when they feel they’ve been slighted. But only for now is this true.
This week, in an effort to protect Democrats (and especially Obama) from an embarrassing defeat on the American Jobs Act (otherwise known as Stimulus 3.0) – Harry Reid decided to violate a century of unwritten rules in the Senate and override the minority party’s right to amend a bill after cloture (a term referring to the Senate closing open debate and those blocking a filibuster). Details can be found here.
The short version is that the Democrats wanted to pass another bill that the Republicans hated, so the GOP decided to attempt to amend the bill with several of their own points on the agenda and get something good out of it…and then Mitch McConnell attempted to force the Democrats to pass the American Jobs Act as well as the other bill (tacking one bill on as an amendment to the other). Minority spokespeople say that they knew they would have been shot down procedurallly (the Democrats had the power to claim that the attempted amendments weren’t germane to the bill being voted on and a simple majority vote would have upheld that) – but that even that act of rejecting the American Jobs Act in its current form would have embarrassed the President (and he is richly deserving of embarrassment).
But Harry Reid would have none of it. He closed the open session and called all of the Senate into a private room (away from prying eyes). He then held a vote on a motion to object to the minority party amending a bill after cloture. This unwritten protection of the minority party in the Senate has been used for over a century to allow the minority to have some say in the direction of the nation, but Reid evidently doesn’t care about tradition or checks and balances. He only cares about efficient passage of his agenda. He won the up and down vote 51-48 (along party lines) and the amendment procedure was shot down. Having now set a precedent that can be used at will, Reid has ensured that the minority party will have even less of a voice in policy decisions than it already did.
Here’s the thing…Republicans left the chamber declaring that this procedural folly was “an outrage that would not soon be forgotten.” And you can be sure that they mean what they say. Republicans don’t like open media attacks on Dems in the same way that Dems seem to love misleading ads and slander in the name of their vision…but the GOP truly LOVES to beat the Dems in whatever ways are legal and fair. There are several liberal Senate seats in jeopardy in 2012…and there is a good chance that the GOP will control the Senate very soon. And when they do, Reid may wish he’d never taken this dastardly gambit…but it couldn’t be helped. He’s a leftist…and leftists can only see their own side of an issue and care about no rules that stand in their way. And when the GOP does exact revenge on minority Dems in 2013, you can be assured that Reid and others in the Senate will cry foul and the media will react as that the GOP invented this breach of protocol.