Back in vogue as the new Congress convenes is the schoolyard habit of some Republicans’ referring to their opposition as “the Democrat Party.” It traces back to the 1930s and Forties, so irritating the Speaker of the House at the time, Sam Rayburn, that he threatened to retaliate by knocking off the first syllable of their name and calling it “the Publican party” (Pint o’ ale, anyone?).
Ah, but all that runs counter to the new spirit of collegiality on Capitol Hill, reflected by mixed party seating during the State of the Union address. What’s that? You aren’t yet convinced that Democrats and Republicans can put aside their differences when larger interests are at stake? Then consider this:
Faced with a rebellion by contrarian Democrats opposed to rules that have turned the United States Senate into the World’s Most Undeliberative Deliberative Body, Harry Reid and other Liberal Elders met behind closed doors with Mitch McConnell and other Conservative Elders to work out an agreement whereby, whichever party has a Senate majority, the rule will stand that the mere threat of a filibuster can put a stop to any such legislative foolishness as judicial confirmations, treaties, etc.
Meaning that no matter who’s in the White House, Democrat or Republican, members of the Senate won’t have to cancel their plans to attend fundraisers in order to enjoy the benefit of filibustering without having to stand on the Senate floor and actually filibuster.
Conclusion: Whether members of the Democrat or Publican party, when it comes to what’s truly important to the Reids and McConnells – the retention of personal power – it’s like that uncollegial third-party candidate said many years ago: “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between ’em.”