Friday, November 21, 2008

Republican Strategy

Remember when Senator Mitch McConnell opposed an open amendment process for legislation in the Senate? Remember when Republicans were in the majority and they thought the worst word in the English language was "filibuster"? Remember when Mitch McConnell and every Republican would go on the cable news shows and threaten the nuclear option if Democrats tried to work within the rules and put their stamp on legislation, or block hardcore conservative judges. Remember how George W. Bush used to believe "up or down vote" were the four most important words in the English language?

Its pretty hard to remember, isn't it? Considering the record of the Republicans the last two years when they as the minority party, with 49 seats, filibustered more legislation than any Senate minority in congressional history.

Now Senator McConnell, the highest ranking Republican in the Senate speculated about another two years of filibusters.

A feisty Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned Friday that while he looks forward to working with President-elect Barack Obama in the coming months, Republicans will continue to demand that they be given the ability to amend legislation or will filibuster bills as they move through the Senate.

McConnell released a letter signed by the entire GOP Conference to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) calling on him to use a more open process for advancing legislation in the 111th, a clear warning to Reid that Republicans will be looking to stand together over the next two years.

"The 42 Republican Senators represent 157 million Americans. Their voices are entitled to be heard, and the way to be heard in the Senate is an open amendment
process," a clearly rejuvenated McConnell told reporters.

The thing is I don't think Senator McConnell has thought through this threat. There are a few things working against him.

First, Democrats will have at least 58, probably 59 Senators in their caucus. While I hated not punishing Lieberman, the way Obama handled it, he has effectively neutered Lieberman, there will be no crossing the line by him anymore. I know a lot of people think that Lieberman will feel free to cross the line, but a President Obama and his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanual will know how to smack him down.

Second McConnell will not be able to keep Republicans in line, like they were for the last 8 years. Senators like Luger, Specter, Collins, and Snow will be convinced to cross the ailes often, and on specific issues like SChip particular Senators like Hatch will cross the line. There is no central leader in the Republican party, and the in-fighting will ensure there is no united minority.

Third, and most important the Republican's no longer have the bully pulpit. President Obama will have the biggest bullhorn, which will drown out McConnell, and a debate between President Obama and Senator McConnell is a no brainer.

Last, McConnel completely screwed up by making the threat. You don't bluster if you have the power, you stay quiet, and use your power when needed. Now he just looks like an obstructionist.

So you go McConnell, make your threats, keep proving what a pathetic politician you are.

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