Thursday, October 27, 2016

Winning Is the only Thing

Paul Waldman has an insightful piece in WaPo today entitled Republicans are already treating Clinton's presidency as illegitimate, but that does not match the text and the real title should be more like "Republicans play by their own rules, and have for a long time." Kudos to Waldman for resurfacing the "Brooks Brothers" riot outside the year 2000 Florida recount which was staged by Republican operatives, but treated by the press as a protest by regular citizens. He points out that Republicans play by their own set of rules in the sense that they violate established political norms at will in order to gain political advantage, which is, of course, developed as a key feature of modern American politics in the Six Points and many posts on this blog. Waldman also mentions the willingness to do a "180 degree turn" if there is political advantage, which will apply to the Supreme Court nomination process if Clinton wins on Nov. 8th. If the Republicans hold the Senate majority, they will decide whether to approve the Garland nomination or stonewall Clinton appointee(s).

Unfortunately, he ends the piece with the suggestion that Democrats may change the rule on filibusters in response to a potential Republican filibuster of the Supreme Court. In fact, one of the suggested areas of reform by Mann/Ornstein, Dionne, and others is exactly to eliminate or reduce further the ability of the Senate minority to filibuster by rule precisely because the filibuster has been abused so much during Obama's presidency. Waldman's "Two Can Play This Game" is therefore unfortunately cynical and off-the-mark. "Both sides" don't do it, not the same way. The Republican strategy is to take advantage of gaps in the rules - how government is structured, as well as weaknesses in the system, including he said/she said political reporting.

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