GOP SENATE WIN: BEGINNING OF A COMPLETE TAKEOVER OR PRELUDE TO A HILLARY LANDSLIDE?
Sahil Kapur of Talking Points Memo, anticipating that Republicans might have the mojo to win the Senate back from Democrats this year, writes about "Four Ways A Majority Leader McConnell Could Make Obama's Life Miserable."
Number 1 is by eliminating what's left of the filibuster altogether -- which I guess McConnell would do, though only to force President Obama to veto GOP-priority bills, because he's not going to have enough votes to override those vetoes. Also -- and this is more disturbing -- McConnell could, by a simple majority vote, enact a rules change that would mandate a Senate supermajority of, say, 67 votes to pass any future tax increase, ever, on anyone. This is the kind of thing that nearly destroyed California. It would lock in today's taxes on the wealthy as a ceiling for eternity. And I'm not sure a subsequent Democratic Senate could reverse it without a lot of public shaming from the GOP.
Number 2 on Kapur's list is "Resurrect Government Shutdowns And Hostage-Taking." Are Republicans really going to try this again -- "attach right-wing measures to government funding legislation and debt limit hikes, which they could pass out of Congress and dare Obama to veto"? I think they understand that it's a politically suicidal strategy -- but maybe not.
Number 3 is bottling up the process of confirming judges and other presidential appointees. Yes, I think that absolutely will happen.
And Number 4 is an orgy of investigations. Says Jim Manley, a former spokesman for Harry Reid: "It'll be Darrell Issa on steroids.... It'll be Benghazi, Benghazi Benghazi; IRS, IRS, IRS."
That's where this all starts to seem less terrifying. That's where I see the potential for massive overreach -- overreach that's glaringly obvious even to people who don't pay much attention to politics.
The investigation fever on the right is rooted in the belief that members of the Obama administration had to be acting with sinister motives. Right-wingers don't suspect that this may be true -- they're certain it's true, the way Holocaust deniers are certain Hitler didn't kill six million Jews and 9/11 truthers are certain that the Twin Towers weren't brought down by jihadists piloting hijacked planes. So if (as I assume) the most high-profile investigation is of Benghazi and the top target is Hillary Clinton, it's going to be rage vs. cool, wild speculation versus empirical reality. You know, like Darrell Issa's recent assertion that Clinton told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to stand down, apparently just because she wanted Americans to die, the traitorous bitch. Clinton's approval rating has been at or around 60% for the past five years, despite a year-plus of this; I really don't think she's going to be derailed by show trials pursuing stuff right-wing crazies want to be true, regardless of empirical evidence.
Moreover, a general crazification of D.C. in the run-up to the 2016 election has the potential to make Republicans look like the lunatic obstructionist party again.
Or will it go the other way? Will Republicans hit pay dirt?
My impression is that they're good at laying waste to the social contract when they have absolute power, as they do in so many states right now. They're good at putting a stranglehold on positive changes Democrats want to make when they have some power, but not a lot. They're good at punching way, way down -- Shirley Sherrod, ACORN, the people trying to build the "Ground Zero mosque" -- when they have little power.
But they have trouble when they have considerable but not absolute power: they think they're the vanguard army storming the barricades, and they forget that their enemies have the power to fight back. Notice how Obama has beaten them on the debt ceiling. Notice how Hillary has emerged from more than a year of Benghazimania almost unscathed.
They overreach, and the public notices. I think that's what will happen again. Msybe not, but it seems likely.