Today's Pet Peeve
Okay, just a brief personal bugaboo here.
Yesterday, I heard once again described on the news about how Trump has had no major legislative successes with the sole exception nominating Neil Gorsuch and getting him onto the Supreme Court.
Sorry, but I do not consider that a success for Trump. In fact, in some ways it bordered on a disaster. There's a notable factor that keeps getting left out of the telling.
Up to this nomination, Supreme Court nominees had to get 60 votes in the Senate. The reasoning generally was that for a lifetime appoint to the Supreme Court, it was important that a president couldn't just nominate an ideologue and ram the person through with majority party support. It was seen as being a position that required a certain consensus.
With Neil Gorsuch, however, it became clear that he would not get that consensus and wouldn't be able to reach that 60-vote threshold. And the Trump nomination would be rejected. So, for the first time in United States history, the Republican Senate changed standards -- perhaps forever -- and voted for the "Nuclear Option" to allow a Supreme Court nominee to only need 50 votes to get approved.
And even with that, even with changing the tradition of the United States Senate, Trump's nominee Neil Gorsuch barely sneaked through. But ONLY because Republicans changed the rules.
This is not what I consider a legislative success. It was a victory, but it's a victory in much the same way that a team rests all its starters in the first half so that they'll be fresh to finish the game, and yet are only losing by three points at halftime -- when suddenly the opposing team decides that games shall henceforth only be 30 minutes, not an hour, and so they go into the record books as the winner. They won. It counts as a win. But it took changing the rules in a historic way never-before done to accomplish it.
It was a victory -- the same way it's a victory to get your determined opposition to agree to sign a contract by holding a gun to his head. You won. You just didn't convince anyone of the merits of your position, including yourself.
Trump got his Supreme Court nominee. But make no mistake: no matter what gets said, it was not a successful legislative tour-de-force that won the day. He could not and did not get his nominee by the rules that existed when the nomination was made. It was a back-alley blind mugging because they brought 51 guns to what had been agreed to be a fistfight.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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