But what’s perhaps most interesting is the light this sheds on current Democratic thinking. Yes, obviously the Democrats are mad about Republican obstructionism, but they were mad three weeks ago, and they didn’t abolish the filibuster then.
One way to interpret this is that they are confident that they will retain their majority in 2014, and so they have no immediate need to worry about minority rights. But it would be insane for Reid to have grown more confident in the last six weeks. No, I think that this shows the opposite: They think it’s very likely that they will lose their Senate majority in 2014. They are essentially writing off the last two years of Obama’s presidency, which means getting as much done as possible right now. They are going to spend the next year packing as many liberal justices and appointees onto the courts and various bureaucracies as they can, knowing that much of this legacy will live on beyond Obama.
Is that a wise strategy? Reid will probably rue his decision if the Republican Party takes the White House in 2016, because Republicans are likely to stuff the Supreme Court with as many young, hale and very conservative justices as they can find. But I’d imagine that right now, to someone in his shoes, 2016 feels a very long way off.