In 2005, Republicans like Lindsey Graham joined hands with Democrats across the aisle of the Senate to form the “Gang of 14,” which aimed to keep Bill Frist from changing the rules on filibustering judicial confirmations. The fourteen Senators helped get some of George Bush’s appointments confirmed while undermining the rest, all while supposedly preserving minority rights in the upper chamber. Now when Democrats are targeting those minority rights, Graham wants to get the gang together again … and is learning a lesson about bipartisanship (via Instapundit):
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wants to revive the bipartisan Gang of 14 — this time for health care reform, not judicial nominees.
But most of his moderate Democratic colleagues aren’t rushing to R.S.V.P.
Graham said Tuesday that a coalition of Republican and Democratic senators could rescue the Senate from an institutional disaster brought on by the use of the parliamentary maneuver known as reconciliation to finish the health care bill.
“Many Republicans who were ready to pull the trigger on the nuclear option on judges are now glad they didn’t,” Graham said. “This place would have ceased to function as we know it. If they do health care through reconciliation, it will be the same consequence. So if you are a moderate Democrat out there looking for a way to deliver health care reforms and not pull the nuclear trigger, there is a model to look at.”
But some of the moderates who would usually be the first to join such a push scoffed at the idea.
Actually, one moderate does think it would be a good idea, but just not now. Joe Lieberman said he would join a new Gang if the House fails to pass the Senate bill on ObamaCare. At that point, Congress would have to start over from scratch on health-care reform, but Congress would be likely to forget it entirely.
And at that point, what motivation would Republicans have to rescue the Democrats after having been locked out for over a year? Better to wait until they have more seats in Congress to gain better leverage over the negotiations.
Most of us who criticized the Gang of 14 at the time noted that Democrats would be very unlikely to reciprocate if the power was reversed. If Lindsey Graham thought otherwise, then he deserves the Captain Louis Renault Award for his shock, shock to find his Democratic colleagues less than enthusiastic about throwing gang signs now: