Speer: Levin voice of reason in Senate vote

Political frustration should never equate to political foolishness. Unfortunately, for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid it’s a concept, like many that cross his desk, that seems to pass right over his head.

As I stood Tuesday listening to the Gettysburg Address being delivered in Culligan Plaza, I was reminded how wonderful our country is and how insightful were its leaders in drafting documents like the Constitution and Gettysburg Address. As I listened to President Abraham Lincoln I thought how gifted he was in just 272 words to convey everything that needed said to help mend the country.

My pride in my country was bursting watching the excitement of the school children and the smiles on adults’ faces as they recited, along with the president, an address many of us memorized.

As the week went on I reflected back on another great president, John F. Kennedy, and the sadness I felt the day he was assassinated. A young elementary student at the time, I remember classes being dismissed, teachers crying and the emotion of the period that came with the realization of what had just happened.

As an adult I often think of Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy as good examples of what strong leadership looks like, of how the country could benefit from that and what can be accomplished through compromise and courage.

Unfortunately, they are concepts Harry Reid and his cronies will never understand.

The same can’t be said of U.S. Carl Levin. Thankfully one of our Democrat senators from Michigan does understand that concept. He knows the importance of tradition, of not tinkering with principles our founding fathers crafted and the courage it takes to stand up to his party leadership and say “no, what you are doing is wrong and I can’t support that.”

Upset that presidential appointments were having a tough time getting the votes needed to move out of the Senate, Reid and 51 other Democrats passed legislation Thursday changing the rules regarding fillibusters in the Senate and giving the Democrat majority new controls now to end GOP fillibustering efforts regarding presidential appointments.

Levin and two other Democrat senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas – voted against their Democrat colleagues.

“If the majority can change the rules, then there are no rules,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Thursday. “It puts a chill on the entire U.S. Senate.”

Levin understood that, and tried to remind his colleagues that revenge is a double-edged sword that ultimately could hurt more later than help now. While Republicans were tight-lipped after the vote and no one was threatening anything, should control of the Senate swing next year, or whenever, how will the GOP exert their pressure via a process now begun by Senate Democrats?

Levin noted that past Democratic minorities had used the fillibustering procedure to block GOP moves to limit abortion rights and repeal the estate tax.

And, he directly quoted Vice President Joe Biden, then Sen. Biden in 2005, regarding changing Senate rules over nominations. “The nuclear option abandons America’s sense of fair play. It’s the one thing this country stands for. Not tilting the playing field on the side of those who control and own the field. I say to my friends on the Republican side, you may own the field right now but you won’t own it forever. And I pray to God when the Democrats take back control, we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.”

Reid, at that same time, warned Republicans that they “would rue the day” if they enacted the same changes Reid did this week.

Isn’t it amazing how words can come back to haunt you?

I believe Levin summed things up best.

“In the short term judges will be confirmed who should be confirmed. But when the precedent is set that a majority can change the rules at will on judges, that precedent will be used to change the rules on consideration of legislation, and down the road, the hard-won protections and benefits for our people’s health and welfare will be less secure.”

Democrats opened a Pandora’s Box this week.

God help us all as to where this could be headed.

Bill Speer can be reached via email at bspeer@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 331. Follow Bill on Twitter @billspeer13. Read his blog, More BS?(Bill Speer) at www.thealpenanews.com.