After suffering crushing losses at the polls on Election Day, the Democrats have finally settled on a strategy for the new year. It’s an unorthodox strategy that weaves together hypocrisy, futility, and ignoring the will of the American people. But, to their credit, they do have a strategy.
Senate Democrats, reports Politico, are planning to “give Trump Cabinet picks the [Merrick] Garland treatment,” including “a grinding confirmation process, weighing delay tactics that could eat up weeks of the Senate calendar and hamper [Trump’s] first 100 days in office.”
Further, Politico elaborates, at least five nominations will be singled out for “strict scrutiny” - including those of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to serve as Attorney General, retired Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis to serve as Defense Secretary, Betsy DeVos to serve as Education Secretary, Georgia U.S. Rep. Tom Price to serve as Health and Human Services Secretary, and financier Steve Mnuchin to serve as Treasury Secretary.
Blocking, or even stalling, any or all of these nominees would make Senate Democrats hypocrites, given that in 2009 - when the shoe was on the other foot, and Senate Republicans were in the minority - Republicans didn’t put up a fight against a single one of Barack Obama’s nominees. In fact, seven of them were confirmed by unanimous consent on Obama’s first day in office, and the vast majority was confirmed shortly thereafter.
Worse, it’s not as if Senate Democrats could permanently block all these nominations, anyway, given their 2013 decision to invoke the so-called “nuclear option,” lowering the confirmation threshold for judicial and executive branch nominations from 60 votes to 51. That decision now renders them powerless to permanently defeat Trump nominees; they are reduced to being able merely to stall the confirmations, not defeat them outright.
In fact, Senate Democrats can really delay only one of these nominees - that of Gen. Mattis, who needs a congressional waiver (which would be subject to a 60-vote threshold in the Senate) to serve as Secretary of Defense because he has not been separated from military service for the required seven years. The rest are invulnerable to attacks, if Senate Republicans stick together and vote en bloc for the Trump nominees, thanks to Senate Democrats’ own decision to invoke the nuclear option more than three years ago.
So why are Senate Democrats nevertheless planning to go through the motions of attempting to delay confirmation of Trump’s nominees?
For political purposes, of course. It’s all about “the show.”
In the wake of losing three out of the last four national elections by wide margins - including what was, to them, a totally unexpected shellacking at the hands of Donald Trump one month ago - they apparently have concluded not that the country doesn’t like the garbage they’re selling, they’ve concluded they simply weren’t trying hard enough to sell their garbage.
So, rather than looking for ways to work with Trump, they’ll instead work with the Rev. Al Sharpton and his band of merry mischief-makers to try to gum up the works and turn the President-elect’s First 100 Days agenda into a … First 200 Days agenda.
I can’t help but wonder how that’s going to sit with Senate Democrats Joe Manchin, and Joe Donnelly, and Jon Tester, and Bill Nelson, and Claire McCaskill, and Bob Casey, Jr., and Heidi Heitkamp, and Tammy Baldwin, and Debbie Stabenow - each of whom is up for reelection in less than two years, representing states that President-elect Trump won?
Are they all on board with this doomed-to-fail delay exercise? Do they actually think participating in it will enhance, rather than diminish, their chances of winning reelection?
In 2006, 2008, 2010, 2014 and 2016 - five out of our last six national elections, surely a record - the nation voted for change. In 2016, despite all predictions to the contrary, Donald Trump won because he, better than any other candidate in either major party, recognized the deep dissatisfaction among the American people. He steeped in it, understood it, internalized it, and spoke to it. His reward was a victory - with historic wins in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin - that the Washington Establishment never saw coming.
Democrats have defended their strategy of blocking and stalling these nominations on the spurious grounds that they are simply listening to the American people. Given the resounding, nearly deafening, message the American people delivered this election cycle, Senate Democrats may want to get their hearing checked
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