[Nuking the filibuster] would erode the image of dysfunction in Washington, supporters claim, and show that Congress can work again.
“Because of the dysfunction, because of the Iran deal … [which] probably was the tipping point, [there’s a sense] that the place just doesn’t work,” said [GOP Rep. Vern] Buchanan. “That’s the general feeling of the majority of Americans today.
“That’s why you see outsiders with 51 percent of the vote in terms of Republicans on our side,” he added, referring to the recent surge of businessman Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in the GOP presidential race.
That’s not the only bit about Trump haunting congressional Republicans in a major news story today. Here’s a revealing passage in WaPo’s piece about the palace coup against John Boehner that may or may not be happening this fall:
Last week, Trump led a rally outside the Capitol opposing the Iran deal — enthusiastically attended by a half-dozen House Republicans who are Boehner critics — during which he made a blunt declaration about the party’s elder statesmen in Congress: “We are led by very, very stupid people.”
Influential Republicans say the current political environment has terrified dozens of rank-and-file lawmakers who support Boehner but fear that another vote to back up the beleaguered speaker could lead to a backlash from conservatives in their districts.
“This is a continuation of the strange virus that’s running through the Republican Party, which I define as a weird form of right-wing Marxism where people are using Saul Alinsky-type tactics,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a Boehner confidant, likening the conservatives to the late radical activist from the 1960s.
The Iran deal, the Planned Parenthood defunding effort, the debt ceiling — all are opportunities for Beltway Republicans to once again disappoint the base with their impotence, enhancing Trump’s image as the high-energy can-do outsider who’ll drain the D.C. swamp if elected. Boehner and McConnell may feel that they have no choice but to throw grassroots righties a bone by taking a stand on one of those three. It won’t be the debt ceiling; the economic threat from a technical default is too high. It probably won’t be Planned Parenthood either. There’s no way the GOP’s going to win a PR war with O over abortion with our left-wing media as arbiter. The obvious solution is to make a stand on Iran as public support for the deal continues to deteriorate. That would amount to a Very Special Episode of failure theater — the GOP would still lose when the Senate passes its resolution disapproving of the deal and Obama immediately vetoes it, but McConnell would have showed a bit of boldness in further undermining the filibuster, something he’d sworn earlier not to do. It would be an essentially empty gesture but a nod at the idea that they’re willing to fight. And let’s face it: If Harry Reid still controlled a majority in the Senate, there’s not a doubt in anyone’s mind that he would have already nuked the filibuster in this instance to make sure the GOP minority couldn’t stop Obama’s grand sellout to Iran. The only reason to preserve the filibuster in this case is if you believe Chuck Schumer, as the likely next majority leader of a Democratic Senate, would insist on preserving it even if it meant protecting a Republican president from an embarrassing Senate vote on foreign policy. Does anyone believe that?
One thing I don’t understand, though: Why isn’t Trump, the anti-establishment warrior, using Boehner and McConnell as foils more explicitly? What I mean is, why isn’t he capitalizing on the fear described in the above excerpts by demanding that McConnell nuke the filibuster and that Boehner resign? If they end up doing those things, great: The legend of Trump grows stronger. He cowed the Senate majority leader and Speaker of the House into doing what he wanted just by yelling at them! He really is a superhero who’ll clean up Washington! If they end up ignoring him, with the Iran deal gliding through the Senate via filibuster and Boehner hanging on for another dreary year as Speaker, great: All the more reason why we need to elect Donald Trump president. The establishment elites won’t listen to the base until they have their own guy in power who’ll grab them by their lapels and force them somehow to do his bidding. Ted Cruz has been playing a variation of this game with McConnell for two years now, but it can’t work as well for Cruz as it would work for Trump because, justly or not, Cruz doesn’t have the stature Trump has right now among grassroots righties as some sort of giant-killer who terrifies the elites. The fact that Trump isn’t seizing this easy opportunity is proof that, for all the hosannas lately to his brilliant instincts on the stump, he’s still an amateur. Start smacking McConnell and Boehner for being afraid to challenge Obama, specifically on Iran and Planned Parenthood, and Trumpmania will surge on.