Fox News commentator Charles W. Cooke on Thursday warned that the recent move from the Senate to end filibusters on judicial nominees could lead to a “military coup.”
Cooke, who is also a National Review columnist, was speaking to Fox News host Gretchen Carlson on Thursday afternoon when he made the leap of logic. “I think it is fairly clear they want to distract from the Obamacare disaster, but this is something they wanted to do for awhile,” Cooke said of the decision to allow for a simple majority to pass nominees through the Senate. “They are very frustrated that Republicans have been blocking their nominations as they blocked Republican nominees when Bush was president.”
After Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pulled the trigger on the so-called “nuclear option,” President Obama addressed the press to defend the Democrats’ choice. “Over the past five years we’ve seen an unprecedented pattern of obstruction in Congress that’s prevented too much of the American people’s business from getting done,” Obama said. The result, Obama continued, is that his nominees have languished in the Senate two and a half times as long as those put forward under the George W. Bush’s administration.
Cooke did not take Obama’s comments well, paraphrasing the president as having said “the American business is far too important for the rules.” “Well, how far do you take that?” Cooke pondered aloud. “You could just ignore the House. You could have a military coup, you could add anything at the end of this.”
Watch his comments here:
In reality, the change to the filibuster’s sixty-vote threshold was one that is narrowly tailored and will not lead to tanks rolling through the streets of Washington. As ThinkProgress earlier pointed out, the number of times where cloture had to be filed to overcome a filibuster has skyrocketed since Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took over as Senate Minority leader. In total, nearly 3 in 10 cloture motions in the history of the Senate have been invoked since then.
The new rule put into place through the nuclear option doesn’t affect legislation, instead only being relegated to nominees for federal positions and courts. This leaves it impossible that the House’s opinion will ever need to be ignored, as only the Senate has the advice and consent power under debate at present, meaning that further changes would be required to allow before it would come into play. While further changes to the filibuster are possible, ignoring the House or Obama colluding with his generals to usurp over democracy — unlike reforming the filibuster — would also violate the Constitution, making it unlikely for either scenario to come from today’s actions. (HT: Eric Boehlert)
An earlier version of this post used an incorrect transcription for a portion of Cooke’s statement. It has since been corrected.