Friday, November 22, 2013
To: Friends & Supporters
From: Gary L. Bauer
It is hard to believe that is has been 50 years since President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas by pro-Castro Marxist Lee Harvey Oswald. I can remember my long walk home from school that day and seeing the flags at half-staff. None of us knew at the time that the assassination would be just the first event in a tumultuous decade of protests, political violence, riots and social discord.
Of course, all week there have been Kennedy tributes, many of them portraying JFK as a symbol of and martyr of American liberalism. The reality is quite different. JFK ran in 1960 against Richard Nixon, accusing him and President Eisenhower of allowing the Soviet Union to surpass us in missiles. He campaigned on — and while president, pushed for — tax cuts to stimulate economic growth.
Columnist George Will pointed out this week that JFK chose a Wall Street banker, C. Douglas Dillon, to be Treasury Secretary. In Dallas, Kennedy was on his way to a speech promoting more tax cuts. In September 1963, he told a reporter that his policy on Vietnam was to “win the war there.”
In short, JFK would not be welcomed today by much of the modern political left!
In any case, America lost more than a young, inspirational president 50 years ago. Our innate sense of optimism was wounded and the decline is accelerating today.
Reid’s Assault On Checks & Balances
Washington is still reeling from the fallout of Harry Reid’s decision to nuke the Senate yesterday. I realize that for many Americans heated debate about arcane Senate procedure is largely “inside baseball.” But Reid’s rules change was a very radical move.
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), not exactly a man prone to emotional outbursts or hyperbole, denounced Reid’s maneuver, saying, “This is the most important and most dangerous restructuring of Senate rules since Thomas Jefferson wrote them at the beginning of our country. It’s another raw exercise of political power to permit the majority to do anything it wants, whenever it wants to do it.”
The decision denies senators the right to block votes on presidential appointments with the exception of Supreme Court nominees. While partisans on both sides have complained about the abuse of the filibuster by the minority party from time to time, there is a bigger issue at stake.
The filibuster was one critical tool the legislative branch had as a check against executive power. In applauding Harry Reid’s move yesterday, Barack Obama noted many of the recent GOP filibusters of his nominees were not done “because they opposed the person, that there was some assessment that they were unqualified, that there was some scandal that had been unearthed.”
He’s partially right about that.
There is a long-established tradition in Washington of senators holding up presidential nominees in order to extract information or concessions on completely unrelated issues. For example, Senator Lindsey Graham recently vowed to block every one of Obama’s nominations. That might seem like an extreme position that justified Reid’s move.
But Graham took that unusual step because of the Obama White House’s stonewalling of the Benghazi investigation. Senator Graham was demanding that the White House allow the survivors of the Benghazi attacks to testify before Congress.
So, yes, Graham’s filibusters were unrelated to the qualifications of the person Obama had nominated. But they had everything to do with a major Obama scandal. I believe Graham was right to do everything in his power — including holding up nominations — to uncover the truth about Benghazi. Yesterday, Harry Reid took away that leverage.
Today’s Washington Post points out another major impact on the concept of checks and balances. Obama has made no secret about his desire to circumvent Congress and rule by regulation. Harry Reid just made that a whole lot easier.
Having lost the ability to block Obama’s nominations, Obama is now free to pack the critical D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and put his political hacks into other key government positions of power, where they will have free rein, as the Post writes, “to accomplish key second-term priorities, including tougher measures on climate change and financial regulation” that could not pass in Congress.
My friends, this is just one more reason why your support for CWF is so important. We must take back the Senate in 2014!
Just think now much more damage Obama could do to our federal courts over the next three years! If we are in the majority, then there is nothing Harry Reid can do to help Obama’s radical nominees. A united conservative majority would be able to vote them all down. Or, perhaps in the case of Eric Holder, impeach them!
As the saying goes, where you stand depends on where you sit. Years ago, when they were in the minority and were routinely blocking George W. Bush’s judicial nominees, Democrats were staunch defenders of the Senate’s filibuster rules and traditions. When Republicans considered invoking the “nuclear option,” Democrats howled with outrage. Consider these few examples:
- Harry Reid in April 2005: “The threat to change Senate rules is a raw abuse of power and will destroy the very checks and balances our Founding Fathers put in place to prevent absolute power by any one branch of government.”
Harry Reid in May 2005: “The filibuster is not a scheme and it certainly isn’t new. … It’s part of the fabric of this institution we call the Senate. …the filibuster has been employed hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times. It’s been employed on legislative matters, it’s been employed on procedural matters relating to the president’s nominations for Cabinet and sub-Cabinet posts, and it’s been used on judges for all those years. …Senators have used the filibuster to stand up to popular presidents, to block legislation, and, yes, even, as I’ve stated, to stall executive nominees. The roots of the filibuster are found in the Constitution and in our own rules.”
Then-Senator Joe Biden in May 2005: “This is the single most significant vote any one of us will cast… This nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power. It is a fundamental power grab by the majority party… designed to change the reading of the Constitution…It is nothing more or nothing less.”
Then-Senator Obama in April 2005: “Mr. President, I rise today to urge my colleagues to think about the implications of what has been called the nuclear option… [I]f the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse. …
“I fear the partisan atmosphere in Washington will be poisoned to the point where no one will be able to agree on anything. That does not serve anybody’s best interest, and it certainly is not what the patriots who founded this democracy had in mind.”