Friday, February 05, 2010


Really, why not? If Republicans attain a majority, or even a near-majority, in the House and Senate in the upcoming midterms, why wouldn't some of them make a serious attempt to impeach? Why wouldn't they believe that some Blue Dogs would even support them? The only thing that would stop them would be fear of a backlash -- and obviously there's no such fear right now regarding this:

Report: Shelby Blocks All Obama Nominations In The Senate Over AL Earmarks

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary "blanket hold" on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, according to multiple reports this evening. The hold means no nominations can move forward unless Senate Democrats can secure a 60-member cloture vote to break it, or until Shelby lifts the hold....

According to the report, Shelby is holding Obama's nominees hostage until a pair of lucrative programs that would send billions in taxpayer dollars to his home state get back on track....

This is an attempt at a semi-coup. It's premised on the notion that Barack Obama -- for the Kafkaesque high crime of crossing over lines defined on the fly by Republicans, right-wing bloviators, and the tea party movement -- is not really entitled to be president. Or perhaps it's premised on the notion that, what the hell, you may as well do whatever you want to the guy, because, for all his tough talk, he and his fellow Democrats won't fight back no matter what you do.

This isn't like the government shutdown in the Gingrich years. National parks and the Washington Monument aren't being closed. So the public won't feel personally affronted. The way you'd get public outrage is by appealing to ordinary citizens' sense of respect for the office and its holder (along with, needless to say, anti-pork outrage). Karl Rove could have generated that kind of public reaction in his sleep if something like this had been done to George W. Bush -- not that he would have needed to, because the right-wing media and centrist Beltway mandarins would have denounced the effort with one voice and the public would have nodded eagerly in agreement.

This will be resolved, of course -- but you just know it will be resolved by means of a compromise on the part of the White House and/or Harry Reid. It sure as hell isn't going to be resolved this way:

A number of people are calling for Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) to tell Shelby to go to hell by not honoring the holds, bringing up the nominations, and forcing Shelby to filibuster each one over the spending/earmark issue.

Reid should do that, but not before he demands that Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and every other GOP senator denounce Shelby publicly. Make the earmark and billions of dollars in spending the biggest possible issue by forcing GOP members to defend or denounce him and by using this to demonstrate their extreme hypocrisy if they don't. Take the highest profile positions at Treasury, Homeland Security, and Defense that Shelby is stopping from being filled, make it clear how and why each one is important, and repeatedly ask Shelby how spending money on earmarks somehow is a higher priority than having these jobs done.

And Reid shouldn't just bring up one nomination; he should bring up 10 in a row, keep the Senate in session 24-7, and force Shelby to repeatedly lose his fights with even his GOP colleagues voting to end debate.

That's what Republicans would do. That's precisely what Democrats won't do. And so the Democrats will just get weaker, the GOP will suffer no lingering ill effects -- Christ, even the compromising Bill Clinton was better at this than the current Democratic crowd -- and the perception that Democrats can be kicked and pummeled with impunity will become ever more obvious. Combined with the perception that Democrats are jackbooted tyrants destroying the country unchecked -- I don't know how anyone can believe those two things simultaneously, but huge percentages of Americans do -- this makes it ever more likely that the threats to Obama's presidency are just getting started.

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