The Democrats' Magic Bullet
Not that many people are aware that Arlen Specter was the staffer who developed the Warren Commission's "magic bullet" theory. The Democrats, with Specter's announced shift from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, now have their magic bullet to ensure that Barack Obama gets what he wants in his first two years in office: healthcare reform, climate change legislation, and appointments to his Administration and to various federal courts.
- 1. Health care reform can now be passed without a need to rely on reconciliation (51 votes). This will enable Obama and the Democrats to claim a broad mandate for the effort- 60 votes. Democrats can fight among themselves on the details of the plan, and allow Republicans to look like they have a role in shaping it (they don't of course any more), but Obama will advertise the bipartisan drafting effort, and with no chance of a successful filibuster, several Republicans will sign onto the bill, giving Obama a big margin of victory in the Senate.
- 2. Henry Waxman's climate change bill is very unpopular with many oil and coal state Democrats. But there is a difference between opposing the bill, and filibustering it. Health care reform was likely to pass this year even before the Specter shift, though by the reconciliation process, which would have angered Republicans, and become a rallying cry for the Party in 2010. Climate change legislation might not have passed this year, and there was no plan to use reconciliation to get it through the Senate with 51 votes. Now it will likely pass, and overcome a GOP filibuster, after some concessions are made to get recalcitrant Democrats on board. "Blue Dog" Democrats were hoping the GOP could kill the climate change bill with a filibuster, and save them from fighting publicly with the popular President of their own Party. Now that won't happen. Obama will get his bill, and proudly display it at the big climate change conference in December, 2009 in Copenhagen. The only remaining question now is how bad the bill will be.
- 3. The GOP will soon lose its ability to filibuster far left Court nominees ,or Administrative nominees such as Dawn Johnson, or Harold Koh.
- 4. Specter, in his statement on his shift to the Democrats, said he will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture on filibuster votes, including card check, the labor movement's primary goal this cycle. If this is true and Specter holds the line with his former party on this filibuster vote, it too may help the White House. This is because Obama's team may have determined that card check is unpopular with a broad swath of the population., and could harm some conservative and moderate Democrats in the South, the Plains states, and the Rocky Mountain area, where unions are not viewed favorably, and secret ballots are respected. . So Specter can save some vulnerable Democrats from having to cast a vote for or defend the passage of card check.
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Richard Baehr is chief political correspondent of American Thinker.