The Democrats’ Latest Capitulation: Chess Playing and Nose Picking

Democrats appear to want a Republican Congressional takeover in November.

Going back on his initial commitment to become a Senator on February 11th, Scott Brown has now insisted that he be seated in the Senate immediately, essentially to prevent a vote on Obama’s nominee for NLRB chair, Craig Becker. 

Becker is a very distinguished labor lawyer who has received support from among others, Chicago law professor Richard Epstein (hardly the thin end of the Marxist wedge).  So of course the Republicans wanted to filibuster him.  But the Democratic leadership was gong to bring him up for a vote this week in order to get him through before Brown was seated.  So of course Brown wants to be seated now.

And Harry Reid has caved completely, insisting that his hands are tied in the matter.

Again — does anyone think that if the shoe was on the other foot, and George W. Bush had a nominee he wanted to get through, that Mitch McConnell wouldn’t find some way to get him through?

Does anyone doubt that if the shoe was on the other foot, and the Republicans needed to find some way to stop certification, then they would find it?  Oh yes — they already did that with Al Franken, pursuing a frivolous lawsuit for six months and blocking Democratic initiatives in the meantime.

As one livid labor leader put it:

I love how we cave to the Republicans and won’t seat our Senator, [Al] Franken. Then we reverse cave and seat their senator. I mean forget the analogy of one is playing checkers and the other playing chess. It’s like one is playing chess while the other is sitting there picking their nose

And no — this isn’t just about Reid and the Senate.  Becker is Obama’s nominee.  Where is the President?  Why won’t he fight for his people?

Now, there is no Democratic majority on the NLRB — a crucially important federal regulatory board of strong concern to organized labor.  And Obama is just twiddling his thumbs.  Why should loyal Democrats bust their tails to support this guy?

If I didn’t know better, I would assume that the White House wants a Republican Congressional takeover in November.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

8 thoughts on “The Democrats’ Latest Capitulation: Chess Playing and Nose Picking”

  1. "Does anyone doubt that if the shoe was on the other foot, and the Republicans needed to find some way to stop certification, then they would find it?"

    I guess we know which is the stupid party and which isn't? Eh? ;-))

  2. Of course, the situations are not comparable, in that Franken LOST on election night, and only finally prevailed after a series of recounts. While Brown WON on election night, and his opponent conceded.

    So there actually was a reason for not immediately seating Franken: He wasn't immediately the winner.

  3. I have to say this has raised my opinion of Reid; Refusing to seat an elected office holder in a timely manner, for absolutely no reason except that you don't like his party, is a remarkably poisonous thing to do in a democracy. While Franken wasn't seated as soon as he should have been, the Republicans at least had a legal leg to stand on, the election was still contested. There's no basis AT ALL for refusing to seat Brown.

  4. Gah, Brett, Franekn WON on election night. Because that's the day folks voted, you know.

    The count wasn't certified until months later . . . which is why they didn't seat him until then.

    It's not some Schrodinger's Election, where it sits in some super-position of win / loss until we open the box.

    The Senate seats them when the paperwork gets in there, certified.

  5. Yes, retroactively, after the recounts were complete, we could say that Franken won the election election night. If you were making the case for seating Coleman immediately, and then replacing with Franken after the recounts were done, that would be relevant.

    The point remains: There was some legal basis for arguing about who'd been elected in Franken's case. None exists in Brown's case. Kudos to Reid for not pretending otherwise.

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