The Buzz

November 22, 2013

BuzzChatter Friday: The Senate goes nuclear, and so the rhetoric

Obama, Roberts, Glickman sound off on the Senate’s decision to make it easier to approve presidential nominees

The Buzz

The facts, faces and hum of local politics with Steve Kraske and Dave Helling

Lots of unhappy people in Washington Thursday over use of the nuclear option to make it easier for Democrats to sign off on President Obama’s judicial nominations.

To the quotes:

• “Today's pattern of obstruction — it just isn't normal. It's not what our founders envisioned. A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the result of an election is not normal, and for the sake of future generations, we can't let it become normal.” — President Obama saying he supported the Senate’s move.

Hard to say who’s right and who’s wrong here. On the one hand, you can’t blame the Democrats because Republicans have repeatedly rejected qualified Obama nominees and practically dared Democrats to go nuclear. On the other hand, Republicans are right when they say the Democratic move has permanently changed the Senate and prolonged the partisan death spiral the two parties have engaged in for years. Thursday was an ugly day.

• “The majority has permanently undermined this body, robbed it of a vital tool to check the untrammeled authority of this or any other president, so this sinking ship of an administration can make whatever appointments it wants. What a tragedy.” — Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican, on the move.

It is a tragedy, but Roberts and the Republicans helped bring this about through their repeated rejections of Obama nominees. No doubt there’s enough blame to go around here. It’s another example of why Washington needs new legislative leaders to change the chemistry on Capitol Hill.

• “Today’s historic change to Senate rules escalates what is already a hyper-partisan atmosphere in Washington, which is already preventing Congress from addressing our nation’s most significant challenges.” — former Senator Olympia Snowe, a Republican, and former Secretary Dan Glickman, a Democrat, who are the co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform.

Amen. Couldn’t say it any better.

• “We have let Republicans control the discourse on the Affordable Care Act for way too long. It's time to call them out for what they are really trying to do: undermine this President and deny health care to millions of Americans.” — former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, founder of Democracy for America.

As mentioned in this space in recent days, Democrats are aiming to go on the offensive on Obamacare in the next few weeks to counter the Republican onslaught. The problem for Democrats: They inexplicably waited too long.

• “Then the left wing of the plane dropped, and we knew we were starting back. That the president was dead.” — President Kennedy’s Labor Secretary Willard Wirtz recounting how several Kennedy cabinet members learned the president had died. Wirtz and others in the cabinet were on a plane over the Pacific Ocean in route to the annual gathering of the U.S. and Japanese officials.

If Thursday was an ugly day, Friday will be a sad one.

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