Editorial | Confirmation fights drag on

Editorial | Confirmation fights drag on

What goes around comes around.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted last week to confirm prominent lawyer William Barr's nomination as this country's newest attorney general. A vote by the full Senate will come soon.

Given his broad experience and excellent reputation, Barr should have received a unanimous committee recommendation.

Instead, he was recommended by a 12-10 vote, with Democrats voting unanimously to oppose Barr's nomination.

Democrats are expected to continue virtually unanimous resistance in the full Senate.

The Barr vote is similar to many other confirmation votes the Senate has held on President Donald Trump's nominees to staff the executive branch of government. In addition to opposing most, if not all, Trump nominees, Democrats have dragged out the confirmation process of dozens of other executive branch nominees.

Democratic opposition to Trump is understandable. But they are making a mistake in acting out of spite to oppose en masse his ability to staff the executive branch of government.

For starters, it's a bad business when the out-party does everything it can to undermine the operations of the executive branch. That's what happens when highly impressive and very capable people, Barr among them, are forced to wait weeks or months for confirmation.

Unfortunately, that argument has fallen on deaf Democratic ears. They are so revved up by their opposition to all things Trump that they cannot see the forest for the trees.

But one day they will, and here's why.

Democrats can be expected to win the White House in the not-too-distant future, perhaps in 2020.

If and when that happens, the Republicans can be expected to do to the Democratic nominees what the Democrats are now doing to Republican nominees.

In politics, when one party escalates its tactics, the other party must do the same, if only to be taken seriously in the give-and-take of the political process.

The best example of this regrettable tit-for-tat involves judicial confirmations.

When President George W. Bush was in office, Democrats, led by Illinois U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, mounted repeated filibusters — endless debate — to block votes on nominees who otherwise had sufficient votes to be confirmed.

When President Barack Obama took office, Republicans adopted the Democrats' filibuster tactic against some Obama nominees.

Angered by the Republicans doing to the Democrats what the Democrats had done to the Republicans, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid persuaded Democrats to abolish the filibuster rule altogether.

Reid must have thought the Democrats were going to hold the Senate in perpetuity. But they didn't.

Republicans took back the Senate majority in 2016 and, as a consequence of Democrats' abolishing the filibuster, overcame Democratic opposition to Trump's judicial nominees, including two to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democrats howled in protest over Trump nominees. But, thanks to the Democrats' decision to abolish the filibuster on judicial nominees, that's all they could do.

Holding the majority, Republicans have the power to confirm judicial nominees over blanket Democratic opposition.

But they continue to invoke Senate rules to slow the executive branch confirmation process to a crawl.

Democrats are having their fun dragging out the process. But they won't be nearly as pleased when they hold the White House and Republicans are holding Democratic nominees hostage for months.

It would be nice if the Democrats would stand down. The two parties have actually discussed adopting cease-fires in the past.

But, given the tenor of the times, it's hard to imagine that happening, even though it would be best for all concerned.

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