Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Obama, Leadership and the Filibuster

Nothing pisses off the Left more these days than the filibuster. Or, at least, the threat of a filibuster. As Hugh Hewitt has noted, for all the hoopla from the moonbatosphere about filibuster abuse, the Republicans mounted not one filibuster in 2009. Not one.

What Democrats are complaining about is the use of calls for cloture, which Republicans have used effectively. Now, Democrats want to make the filibuster a campaign issue. Which, of course, would be smart if Americans actually wanted the legislation that has gotten bottled up with cloture votes. They don't and, in fact, applaud the idea of Democrats losing their supermajority. Even Barack Obama is pretending he favors bipartisanship (even as his press secretary mocks a private citizen. Nice bipartisanship!). But that doesn't stop the lemmings in the Democratic Party from claiming that the filibuster is being abused and stopping them from doing the People's Business.

Wonder of wonders, we even have Ezra Klein saying Obama should be more like George W. Bush.

George W. Bush had recess appointed 10 nominees, including one to the National Labor Relations Board in August of his first year. We're in February of Obama's second, he has more than twice as many nominees held up as Bush did, and he's only threatening his first recess appointment.

Bush had this right. In his first year in office, he was using recess appointments and running major legislation through the reconciliation process. That normalized those moves for the rest of his administration. Using those tools wasn't a story. The Obama White House, by contrast, is holding those moves in reserve, which has allowed Republicans to paint them as extraordinary measures. But they're not extraordinary measures. They're basic elements of governance in an era of polarization and procedural obstructionism, and the White House should treat them that way.

Ah, what convenient memories liberals have. Yes, George W. Bush used recess appointments in his first year in office. But Democrats vehemently opposed those appointments and put blanket holds on GWB's nominees. Moreover, President Bush quit using them after Democrats retook Congress in 2006.

What Klein should be complaining about is the rampant hypocrisy of Democrats complaining about procedural foot-dragging now when they applauded it less than four years ago. If the filibuster was good and recess appointments were bad in 2004, then Democrats should accept the consequences of those positions now.