In April 2005, when Democrats were blocking a list of Bush nominees and Republicans were threatening to invoke the “nuclear option,” the newly elected junior senator from Illinois, Sen. Barack Obama, took to the floor and sanctimoniously proclaimed that the nuclear option would not only be a violation of democratic principles, but that it would worsen partisanship.
Here are few excerpts from his remarks:
Everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster – if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.
I urge my Republican colleagues not to go through with changing these rules . . . I sense that talk of the nuclear option is more about power than about fairness. I believe some of my colleagues propose this rules change because they believe they can get away with it rather than because they know it’s good for our democracy.
What (Americans) don’t expect is for one Party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game, so that they can make all the decision while the other Party is told to sit down and keep quiet.
His reelection is less than a month old, and President Obama is already busy concocting new power grabs.
He wants to remove a portion of the power of the purse from Congress by granting himself the ability to raise the debt ceiling, subject to a two-thirds disapproval vote in Congress, which basically means he can raise it at will. If Bush had tried this, Democrats would be sobbing anguished tears all over the floors of Congress about the imperial presidency.
And the White House, in an unusual interference with congressional procedure, has weighed in with support for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s effort to roll back the filibuster, which currently requires 60 votes to end.
“The President has said many times that the American people are demanding action,” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement to The Huffington Post. “They want to see progress, not partisan delay games. That hasn’t changed, and the President supports Majority Leader Reid’s efforts to reform the filibuster process.”
If Bush tried to move the worlds “greatest deliberative body” toward a simple majority vote to pass legislation while his Party controlled the place, he’d be derided by Democrats for trying to seize new power and ruin the Senate.