President Barack Obama placed his own stamp on Senate Democrats’ decision to end the filibuster rule for executive nominees and most judicial appointments, telling White House reporters that despite gutting minority protections, he takes the Senate’s authority “very seriously.” He walked off without taking questions.
Obama cast himself and the country as victims of “obstruction” by the opposition, mocking Republicans who complain that government work and then oppose what government tries to do. He insisted that there was still “good work” being done in a bipartisan way, and suggested that the new move would not harm that.
In 2011, President Obama called the nation to “civility” in the wake of the Tucson shootings. There is a civility beyond language, which is just one expression of the rules that govern social and political interactions. To change the rules of the political game, unilaterally, is the height of incivility and will spark a major backlash.
Unwittingly, perhaps, Obama has just launched the Republican campaign for control of the Senate in 2014. The GOP can now argue, plausibly, that it would be justified in ending the filibuster for legislation as well, if it so chose. A simple majority would repeal Obamacare. Every vote for a Republican hastens that possibility.