Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What Happens If Nate Silver Is Correct?

Over the weekend Nate Silver, a statistician who has taken on Delphic significance in the political world, launched the political page on his 538 blog with the announcement that the Republicans are slight favorites to take the United States Senate. On ABC's This Week, Silver gave the Republicans a chance to pick up 11 seats.

Locally, the statistically minded Messrs Montgomery and Heidelberger have given their takes. Nationally Republicans have a new found respect for Silver whereas Democrats are suddenly challenging his statistical acumen.

I have seen little speculation about what happens if Silver is correct and Republicans get 52 or 54 Senate seats and keep the House. I'll go out on a limb with a single word: impeachment.

I have two likely scenarios. In one, the fire-breathers in the House will scream Benghazi and cover-up, IRS harassment and cover-up, executive orders were issued that we didn't like and cover-up, "we didn't get Clinton" and cover-up.

The other scenario involves a long game. Republicans will have repeated successful votes to repeal Obamacare followed by repeated vetoes. (There will be a few filibusters in the Senate, those efforts will not be serious because the Obama holds the veto pen.) Republicans will then attach repeal to a debt ceiling vote; Obama will invoke the full faith and credit clause, and Republicans will impeach.

I know Rush Limbaugh says impeachment will never happen, but that proclamation is issues in the form of a challenge; Republicans according to Limbaugh lack "political will." even as everything gets "screwed-up." There are too many safe blood-red districts. There is also an understanding, even among those who would rather breathe fire than think, that demographics and the electoral map favors Democrats or at least a Republican far too moderate for their tastes. Besides, impeachment will be much easier that trying to think up policy solutions.


M Larson said...

I think the first step will be to change the filibuster rules so that it only requires a simple majority to move a bill to vote.

caheidelberger said...

Impeachment requires a majority vote of the House. GOP has that right now, if they want. Conviction requires two-thirds vote in Senate. GOP won't get that. GOP victory by Silver's slim margin doesn't much increase the value of an impeachment trial.

Kal Lis said...

If Silver's outside number is correct and the Republicans get 11, the Republicans will have 56. I think they had 55 when they impeached Clinton. Further, the Republican base was far less rabid then than they are now.

(For anyone offended by the word rabid, allow me to give an epidemiological analogy. Obama Derangement Syndrome is smallpox whereas Clinton Derangement Syndrome was chickenpox. Bush Derangement syndrome, to the extent that it existed was the mumps.)

I have a hard time believing that a party that has cast 50 votes to repeal the ACA when they know the Senate won't take it up and the President will veto it cares about the eventual outcome. It will be a show trial, and if they get a majority to convict they will have made their talking point.

Further, if any Republican is planning ahead, they can attach impeachment guilt by association to both Hillary or Biden, the most likely nominees at this point.

P&R said...

They won't impeach. There will certainly be pressure from their base to do so - there already is. But the GOP won't impeach. They won't because it's a political loser for them, rabid base or not.

The better tactic - and more likely one - is that both Senate and House will increasingly harass the administration with investigation after investigation. The constant accusations, horror stories, and such like that can be brought forward by the party controlling the committee structure in congress is not something to be taken lightly. What is more, with a majority in the Senate, they will be able to block any and all White House appointments. Unblocking them will require Obama pay the Senate GOP with concessions that Obama will not want to make.

These two factors will so weaken the president that impeachment will be unnecessary.

Kal Lis said...

Like his predecessors, Obama will use recess appointments and get around most of the problems

I anticipated the hearings you point to. One does not begin impeachment without the cover of serious investigation.

There is a certain protestant reformation ethos within the conservative base. Just as churches fragmented to the point there are now more flavors of Baptist than there are options at Cold Stone Creamery and Baskin Robbins combined, the Tea Party folk have spent the past 6 years pushing Republicans to the right with a "if we don't like you, we'll find a candidate to run against you" schism threat. For their part the mainstream folk have not responded with acts of courage.

I eagerly await the spine growth mutation that can face down folks ginned up to believe that Obama makes Nixon and Bendict Arnold look like saints.

If I may be permitted an analogy, I'm not sure the Republicans have the rock star who can gin up the crowd to a fever pitch and then simmer them down with a couple of ballads. They've all got the angry "Obamacare will be the end of us" anthems down pat. I don't think they have a policy ballad in their playlist.

P&R said...

He'll only get recess appointments if the Senate actually recesses.

They don't have to, and during the Bush years, Reid contrived it so they didn't. I expect that to be replayed if the shoe is on the other foot.

Anonymous said...

I find it difficult to fathom that anyone with a working brain could dismiss the fact that Bush Derangement Syndrome was any less valid that CDS or ODS. Both sides have their extremists.

Kal Lis said...

I never said any were invalid. I agree that both parties have extremists. If you poke around this site, you'll find that I didn't vote for Obama in 2012, so I have no reason to defend him.

I maintain that the "I hate Obama" tirades that I hear are more pointed and angry than the "I hate Clinton" tirades. I'm basing both on the local level not the national cable news anger porn that operates under the assumption that the only forms of communication are smirks and shouts and assuming that one who sees the world differently than the smirker or the shouter lacks intellect and morals.

I heard few anti-Bush tirades locally. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that I'd find folks that believe that WMDs were found in Iraq.