Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Last Call

Republicans have now fully declared war on Susan Rice's nomination as Secretary of State.  But it's not about Rice, Benghazi, or even President's about John Kerry.

In just two quick meetings on Capitol Hill, Susan Rice may have blown up any goodwill she had with the very senators she’ll need for confirmation if she’s ever tapped as the next secretary of state.

Over the past two days, four key Republican senators have emerged from private meetings to blast the United Nations ambassador’s explanation about what happened during and after the deadly attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

It’s not clear what Rice said behind closed doors to anger all these senators, but it’s obvious the meetings went badly and this was hardly a nominee-in-waiting charm offensive.

Even Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, just the type of moderate Republican who might help break a filibuster on a nomination, said there were still too many questions about why Rice incorrectly characterized the Sept. 11 assault in five Sunday talk show interviews as the result of spontaneous protests at the same time the Libyan president was calling it a terrorist attack.

“I don’t understand why she would not at least qualify her response to that question,” Collins told reporters after emerging from a 75-minute, closed-door meeting with Rice.

At this point, a number of GOP Senators are all but promising to block Rice's nomination permanently.  But Senator Collins gave away the game today:

Collins and other Republicans have made the case that Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, would be more qualified than Rice to be secretary of state.

But Obama may be reluctant to tap the Massachusetts Democrat since it would create a vacancy in the Senate — and an opportunity for defeated GOP Sen. Scott Brown to return to the chamber. Kerry has also been floated as a potential nominee for defense secretary.

 “I think John Kerry would be an excellent appointment and would be easily confirmed by his colleagues,” Collins said

The game is clear.  The 2014 Senate elections are now underway.   Republicans feel they'll have a better chance in 2014 of taking the Senate if they can get Scott Brown back into the Senate through a low turnout special election, plus with Kerry out of the Senate picture, that's one less vote for Democratic legislation in the upper chamber.

Kerry's seat was the most likely target of the assault on Rice's character and obvious qualifications, but Collins made it official this afternoon.

We'll see how the President reacts.  I'm betting he calls the GOP's bluff, and he should.

Mitt's Naked Lunch

After President Obama took Mitt Romney's lunch money, President Obama and unemployed guy Mitt Romney are going to have lunch.

President Barack Obama and his former rival Mitt Romney will meet Thursday for their first get-together since the November 6 election, according to a statement from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

"On Thursday, Governor Romney will have a private lunch at the White House with President Obama in the Private Dining Room," Carney wrote. "It will be the first opportunity they have had to visit since the election. There will be no press coverage of the meeting."

White House chefs have a recipe for crow and humble pie?  Mitt could use a seven-course meal of that.  However, it is rather gracious of the President to do so.  I can't remember the last time another losing candidate got lunch at the White House.

Then again, Mitt does have an awful lot of time on his hands these days.  Bon Appetit!

The Natural Habitat Of The Nevada Honey Badger

Senate Democratic majority leader Harry Reid looks to be getting his full "don't care" on in the next Senate session as he tees up the filibuster to get fili-busted.  Greg Sargent gets the plan of attack:

So here’s what is likely to happen, according to a senior Senate Democratic leadership aide. Dems will likely pass reforms that include ending the filibuster on the motion to proceed and on on motions to move to conference; and forcing “talking filibusters,” which would require a much more public role for filibustering.

Dems may not change the rules on the first day of the session. Rather, the aide says, they are likely to do a rules change, almost certainly in January, via what’s known as overruling the chair. Democrats ask the chair for a ruling on whether it is within the rules to, say, filibuster the motion to proceed. When the chair says Yes, Dems overrule it by a simple majority vote. And so on with the other provisions.

It will be very hard to determine whether these reforms will be effective without seeing their final language. But in the end, the minority will still be able to filibuster on the move to end debate — which is to say the Senate will remain a supermajority institution. Will the reforms discourage filibustering? That we’ll have to find out.

It’s still possible that the simple majority rules change may not come to pass — if Republicans agree to a compromise package of filibuster reforms. But aides say that as of now, no negotiating is taking place.

Either way, what happened today is that Reid, in effect, put his finger on the nuke button. It’s hard to see how he pulls back now.

Republicans are almost certainly going to try to cut a deal now.  We'll see what happens, but it's clear at this point Reid has the 51 votes to go ahead in January if the GOP won't play ball.  My money's on Reid having to go that route, because any deal the GOP makes will almost certainly involve something stupid.

But Honey Badger don't give a you know what.


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