I hate to break it to David Brooks, but the Senate couldn't get more partisan or polarized than it is already and as his cohort on The PBS Newshour, Mark Shields explained to him this Friday, the Democrats finally getting fed up to invoke the so-called "nuclear option" is a symptom and not the cause of the problem.
And of course like a good deal of the other talking heads that are filling our airways these days, Brooks uses the Democrats finally being pushed to act by the bad faith of the Republicans as an excuse for more of their bad behavior in the future.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let's talk about what happened yesterday in the Senate, the -- essentially changing the rules, Mark, to say that, to confirm a president's -- one of the president's nominees, it only takes a simple majority, no longer 60. They called it the nuclear option.
But were the Democrats justified in doing this?
MARK SHIELDS: Were they justified? I will leave that to a higher power to make that determination.
I think it became inevitable, Judy. There have been 168 filibusters on presidential nominees in the history of the Senate. Half of them have occurred in the last four-and-a-half years, under President Obama. So it had become a tactic that was just part and parcel, that changed the system and the rules in the Senate, that you required 60 votes to be confirmed.
And it reached the point where they weren't objecting to nominees on the basis of their qualifications or lack thereof. There was just a blanket opposition. And I think Democrats concluded, breaking their word from five years ago, when -- when they opposed this nuclear option -- but they concluded the Republicans, if they do win control of the Senate in 2014, which is probably a better-than-even bet, that they would do the same.
So, they would get -- that any chance of compromise was probably minimal, so why not get done what they could get done in the remaining time of President Obama's term?
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David -- David -- and, by the way, I made a mistake. You're not in Philadelphia. You're in San Francisco.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I knew that.
But are you prepared to weigh in on whether the Democrats made a mistake here or not?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, they made a big mistake.
There's -- Mark's right. There's no question there's been a deterioration of norms, but that's no reason to basically begin the erosion of the institution of the Senate, what makes the Senate special. When you go to the Senate dining room and you look at the senators, they actually do talk to each other across party lines. They have working relationships. It's not great. It's not the way it used to be.