Just when I think I can't detest the Republicans anymore than I already do, they come up with some new obstructionist trick that makes me loathe them even more. What to do? What to do? They don't want Chuck Hagel confirmed as the Secretary of Defense, both because Hagel, as a Republican, isn't sufficiently extremist to suit them, and of course, just on the general principles of being a thorn in Barack Obama's side at every available opportunity.
There's danger lurking in how they handle this though. The Democrats just passed up an opportunity to change the rules regarding filibusters which the Republicans have used so effectively to stonewall everything from nominations to legislation to debt ceilings to fiscal cliffs. I thought this was gutless on Harry Reid's part myself. Once again, the Democrats act as the party of reason and get screwed for their efforts. This filibuster compromise happened because Ole Harry and Mitch McConnell reached a "gentleman's agreement" - ha!ha! No, that's not a joke, although I know it seems like one.
That agreement could fall apart if the Republicans filibuster Hagel's nomination, so the Party of No had to find a more devious way around their problem and they did. They insisted on being given information regarding income from foreign sources that they know Hagel isn't at liberty to provide because of confidentiality agreements with the entities involved. This is standard operating procedure as these bigwigs move in and out of government service. The Republicans also want every transcript and even Hagel's personal notes on every speech he has ever given. This requests are unprecedented, having never been asked of any nominee for Secretary of Defense before in our nation's history! Donald Rumsfeld, for instance, would have never passed this particular litmus test (which, granted, might have been a good thing but still...the rationale used to be that a president deserves the Secretary he wants).
Now the Republicans are holding up a vote on Hagel's confirmation in feigned outrage and indignant protest that their unreasonable requests are not being complied with. You've got to give the Republicans credit. If there is a slick and slimy technique they haven't found yet, I don't know what it is.
And who is their standard bearer in this noble fight? Why none other than the latest contestant into the Republican "Most Wing-Nuttiest of Them All" Sweepstakes. Chickenhawk Ted Cruz. Ted "no, I haven't been sucking lemons, this is my actual smile" Cruz. Ted "no matter how crazed you are, I'll call and raise the ante" Cruz.
Actually, this underhanded strategy is becoming common practice with the Republicans. They just lost us Saturday mail delivery because they foisted off impossible-to-meet obligations on an already-struggling post office that no actual business in its right mind would ever agree to....namely, paying the next 75 years of pension payments in advance in only ten years.
In red states, they use the same method of demanding abortion-performing doctors receive certifications from regional hospitals, while ensuring that their applications will be rejected.
See how easy that is? Don't bother with the hard work of legislating the old fashioned way by debate and convincing your fellow representatives to vote your way because of the strength of your argument. Instead, simply place an impossible to surmount obstacle in front of your opponent, then shrug and say, "oh, well."
The problem is that in the war of politics, the Democrats are going by the old out-moded rules of two recognizable armies meeting on the field of battle, face-to-face, and may the best general carry the day. Meanwhile, the Republicans long ago switched to the politics of terrorism. IEDs where you least expect them, damn the women and children and the Red Crosses.
The Democrats better be investing in a bunch of drones...fast.