Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have come under tremendous pressure to start achieving the ambitious goals they set for the 110th Congress after winning control for the first time in 12 years. However, the two Democrats find themselves looking foolish as this Congress has done less in its first five months than any in recent memory — and both Reid and Pelosi blame the Republicans for obstructionism in the Senate. They seem to forget that the two of them played the same exact game for their own political advantage over the past few years of Republican control (via Memeorandum):
Pelosi sounded more apologetic than celebratory Friday when she announced with her Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democrats’ list of accomplishments six months after they seized control of Capitol Hill and promised “a new direction” in Washington.
“I’m not happy with Congress, either,” Pelosi, of San Francisco, conceded.
She pinned the blame on “the obstructionism of the Republicans in the United States Senate.” …
“The Republicans are doing what the Democrats did,” said Julian Zelizer, a history and public affairs scholar at Boston University. “They’re using the power of the Senate filibuster, and the power in the House when you have narrow majorities, to make a do-nothing Congress — even when there’s a lot of issues on the table, even when there’s a lot of interest in accomplishing things.”
The Democrats in their years in the minority made a filibuster-proof 60-vote supermajority — rather than a 51-vote simple majority — the threshold needed to pass any legislation in the Senate. Democrats routinely blocked all but the most noncontroversial bills. They created a Senate crisis in 2005 by filibustering Bush’s judicial nominees, provoking Republican leaders to threaten to do away with the filibuster. That showdown was averted only by the intervention of a dozen moderates in both parties.
Payback is a … bummer. Having set the precedent, now Pelosi and Reid want to complain about its use against them. Both Democrats proved that the strategy works in making the majority party look incompetent, and the GOP have just decided to follow their playbook against them.
Is this wise? Not in the long run. We have serious problems that require cooperation and compromise. However, listening to Harry Reid complain about Senate obstructionism is somewhat akin to hearing a small child complain to his mother that his sibling hit him back.