Nominations Calvinball

Ryam Grim reports on efforts to create a double-standard favorable to Ben Bernanke:

When it comes to progressive priorities in the Senate, there’s one standard: 60 votes are needed. But for Ben Bernanke, there’s a second standard: 50 will be just fine, thank you.

Democratic leaders in the Senate are asking colleagues who are reluctant to support Bernanke’s nomination for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman to nevertheless vote with them to end a filibuster and allow a vote on the actual nomination. The reluctant members would then be free to vote no to express their displeasure. Several Democrats have committed to just that and others are considering it.

This is just a depressing reminder that if Senate Democrats were even remotely serious about governing the country they would have adopted a “vote with the leadership on cloture” policy as a standard principle. They refused to do so out of a selfish concern for their own petty power, but by doing so ironically created a situation in which it’s been impossible for them to accomplish anything — including effective economic recovery — and now all their seats are endangered. Think how much better off they’d be, for example, if a larger stimulus had passed but with five or six vulnerable members able to “break with their party” and vote no.