Background: given that [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ] was effectively backhanded by the American people last night for what he done, there’s some question about what he’ll be doing next year. Which leads, indirectly, to an interesting question: while [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ] can and almost certainly will change Senate procedural rules back to the old system before the end of his term, there’s nothing to stop [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ] from switching them right back, and then proceeding to make Senate Democrats’ life a living Hell*.
I am not saying that this would be enough:
McConnell doesn’t have any incentive to make that situation on Reid any easier, and plenty of incentive to force Reid out. McConnell may want to return to normal order, but not with Reid across the table from him. If McConnell wants to play hardball, all he needs to do is insist that Democrats shun Reid entirely — no leadership position, no ranking-member position on committees — for the next two years, in exchange for returning to the pre-Reid Senate environment. If not, McConnell can promise that Republicans will follow the Reid precedent in suppressing minority participation, all the while reminding Senate Democrats that they enthusiastically supported those rules when they enjoyed the majority. Democrats may grumble, but in the end they’ll cave.
…but it’s not nothing, either. Keeping [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ] out of the parliamentary procedure weeds for the next two years would not be trivial; and once some other Democrat becomes the SML, he’ll** be reluctant to give the position up. Still, we certainly could do better than just humiliating a man who really should retire now; so what other concessions should we insist on, in exchange for the resumption of regular order? – Note, by the way, that if you push too hard you’ll end up with nothing. The Democrats have been beaten back, not beaten down. So the question’s trickier than it looks.
*Oh, he’ll do it, never fear. Do not underestimate the power of malice, and revenge – besides, the Democrats went after McConnell’s wife. You think that these people don’t keep mind of that, just because they’re Senators? Nobody holds grudges like Senators hold grudges.
**It’ll be a guy.