Charles Krauthammer: The real problem in Washington: An outbreak of lawlessness

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 5, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    2bits, find the filibuster in the Constitution. You can't do it. Find the six times the Constitution allows a supermajority. The Constitution is the framework that protects minorities. The founders did not support rule of the minority, as you propose.

    'This (the supermajority) isn’t what the Founders intended. The historical record is clear on that fact. The framers debated requiring a supermajority in Congress to pass anything. But they rejected that idea.

    In Federalist 22, Alexander Hamilton savaged the idea of a supermajority Congress, writing that “its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of government and to substitute the pleasure, caprice or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent or corrupt junta, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority.”

    In Federal 58, James Madison wasn’t much kinder to the concept. “In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule; the power would be transferred to the minority.” '- Ezra Klein, the Washington Post, is the Filibuster Constitutional?

  • BYR West Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 2:38 p.m.

    I would like to see the credentials of some of the people posting comments here and compare them to Krauthammer.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 10:12 a.m.

    The majority deciding they can eat the minority is just a frequently used (but extreme) illustration of what PURE-majority-rule means (mob-rule by vote).

    Other examples... if a majority of kids in your kids school class vote that they can punch your kid... they can.

    Or if a majority of people vote that we can keep colored people off the bus... we can.

    Those are ALL illustrations of majority-rules (not tempered by some rules to protect the minority from a self-centered majority).

    We NEED rules that protect the minority from a self-centered majority that just wants what they want and don't care what the minority wants.

    THAT is what the founding fathers opposed. People who think the majority should ALWAYS get what they want, regardless of how it impacts the minority... is the problem the founders fought against.

    Filibuster is just one rule to protect the minority from total-power being held by the majority (because that type of unchecked-power tends to be abused).

    Be careful how much unchecked-power you give the majority. The NEXT majority may not be as nice. YOU may be in the minority someday.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Dec. 3, 2013 4:28 p.m.

    @mark "...they need to address the courts....Also...Congress can address it through an impeachment."

    No one is going to sue or impeach the president for delaying the effects of a law they believe will harm Americans. This doesn't make his actions any more lawful -- it only means that he will get away with it for the time being.

    Whether or not anyone tries to stop him, he has no legal authority to make changes to the laws. He has authority to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, and authority to recommend measures for the consideration of Congress, but he doesn't have authority to do what he just did with Obamacare.

    "I know exactly where [my health care] will be provided from a year from now."

    Lucky for you. About half of Americans with employer-provided insurance are in for a change they're not expecting.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 3, 2013 2:05 p.m.

    Wow, 2bits, that's quite a stretch.

    The framework you are worried about is, of course, the Constitution. And like I said, nothing in what the Senate did violates it. The Senate was not created to have to use super majorities. (Except in a few instances, perhaps you should look up when the Constitution requires a super majority vote.)

    Now I know the Republicans were trying to set it up so that any legislation Barack Obama supported would require a super majority, but the Constitution does not call for that. The Constitution allows a simple majority to move bills through congress, or to confirm judges.

    Now maybe you want to amend the Constitution so that a super majority is needed for all business in the Congress, or you may want to amend it to tell the Senate exactly what their internal rules are, but to do so you WILL need to get a super majority. Per the Constitution.

    Now none of what we are talking about requires the eating of people on an island (relax), all we are talking about is what is required by the Constitution. That Constitution that was created, in part, by the same founder you quote.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 3, 2013 1:26 p.m.

    The filibuster is just another rule that was there to keep the majority from easily trampling the minority. Filibuster rule didn't give EITHER side tyrannical power. Doing AWAY with it does.

    WITH the filibuster the minority has SOME power (I see no problem with that). But the majority can still overcome it when needed... they just have to get a distinct majority to say so (not just one person more than 50%). How does that give tyrannical power to the minority? It doesn't. It just gave them SOME power. But the majority can overrule them IF they get a distinct majority.


    I really don't see how the filibuster gave the minority tyrannical power. It just gave them a tiny slice of the power.

    I seriously think our founding fathers didn't WANT a tyrannical majority. Almost every rule they made was intended to FORCE compromise. They wanted the majority AND the minority to have to work hard to find a compromise that at least SOME on BOTH sides would see as good legislation (not just 50%+1 person).

    The theory being we would get better balanced legislation IF we had to get even opposition party support for it first.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Dec. 3, 2013 11:42 a.m.

    @2 bits – “"Protection of the Minority" is a concept we have had in this country since the beginning.”

    Those are all good points applied in context… I don’t think there’s any context here though.

    And of course the Constitution protects minority rights (at least in theory… you might get an argument from certain minority groups throughout our history) and if you can site where Obama or the Senate Dems have violated the Constitution (by the SC’s interpretation, not yours) then you might have some context.

    But there a difference between protecting minority rights and living under a tyranny of the minority (which is what the Senate has been experiencing since Obama took office).

    I would prefer neither, but if we’re going to have one or the other I’ll take the tyranny of the majority any day of the week.

    Reached comment limit...

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 3, 2013 10:13 a.m.

    Pure "majority rules" without some framework of rules that the majority can't violate to protect the minority is just "mob rule".

    RE: "When did people get so afraid of majority rules"...
    ... Since the beginning of our Nation.

    Thomas Jefferson:
    "Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine".

    PURE "Majority Rules" means if there are 3 people on an island and 2 vote to eat the other... you can eat him. It's just mob rule by majority vote without a framework of rules they can't violate (like no eating each other).

    "Protection of the Minority" is a concept we have had in this country since the beginning. This founding principle is eroded when people adopt your attitude (ANYTHING the majority wants to do... they can do).


    This Nation was founded by people who were oppressed minorities in their homeland. They wanted to prevent this flaw of human nature as much as possible. Thus the Constitution.

    As Barack Obama himself pointed out... "The Constitution is a document of negative liberties... it defines what the government (elected by the majority) can NOT do to you".

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 3, 2013 9:00 a.m.

    Nate, you have a question concerning law. If President Obama has broken any laws is not based on Nate from Pleasant Grove claiming he has. If people seriously think he has been outside the law with regards to what he has done on healthcare then they need to address it (where Nate?) in the courts.

    Also, if people think President Obama has maliciously broken the law Congress can address it through an impeachment. But, if you will notice, nobody is seriously thinking about that. And believe you me, if the Republicans in Congress thought they could do it, they sure would. In a heartbeat. But of course they know that the President has done nothing impeachable. So some of them may squawk, but who really cares if they do?

    As far as knowing where healthcare will be provided from a year from now? I know exactly where mine will be provided from a year from now. As do the vast majority of people. It's not like the bad old days when people could get kicked off their insurance if it was found they had a preexisting condition, or had reached a maximum cap.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Dec. 3, 2013 7:05 a.m.

    @Esquire "if Obama was breaking the law, there would be repercussions."

    There are repercussions. When laws are applied arbitrarily, we no longer have rule of law. Everything is done on the ruler's whim. Whatever is politically expedient for him at the moment, that's what happens. No one knows what they can count on.

    In the case of health care, insurance companies prepared for three years to sell in the exchanges. Then they are suddenly told that the employer mandate will be put on hold for a year. After that, they are told that the website doesn't function, but it will two months from now. Then it is announced that individuals can keep their own plan, if the insurance company and the state regulators will allow them. Then it is announced that the small business mandate will also be put on hold. Then at the end two months, the website still doesn't work.

    Is there anyone in the country who knows how his health care will be provided a year from now? Who really knows?

    This is only one example of repercussions that come when the rule of law is ignored.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 3, 2013 3:09 a.m.

    2bits, Krauthammer, doesn't know what he is talking about.

    Of course there are rules. And there are still rules. And one of those rules is that you can change senate procedural rules with a vote. Majority rules. This has nothing to do with the Constitution, except that the Constitution allows the body to set its own rules, as we just saw happen.

    When did people get so afraid of majority rules? When did they start to believe that everything should be determined by a super majority? There are only a few situations where the Constitution calls for a super majority, and changing Senate rules isn't one of them.

    Yep, majority rules. 50% plus one. And guess what? The worlds not going to fall apart because of it. Frankly, this should have been done a long time ago.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 3:44 p.m.

    I have to admit that I agree with George on this one.

    When all you need is a simple majority to change the rules... there are no rules.

    The rules we have today will change to whatever the current majority wants tomorrow if one party has even a single seat majority (and it's very unusual to have the exact 50/50 ratio needed to prevent this from happening).


    Democrats seem to relish what they are doing with their power today... I wonder if they will be so enthusiastic should there come a day when Republicans take the majority back and decide to do their own power-play?

    You have to know what what goes around comes around.


    When you trample on the minority when you have the power... what can you expect in return when the power flips? And it will if our 200 years of history are any indication of reality.

    This unrealistic expectation that Democrats will be in control from now on... is just absurd and historically unprecedented. So why expect it to happen now?

    If there's one thing our Constitution was set up to prevent... it's tyranny of the majority. That hasn't changed (yet).

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 1:22 p.m.

    Nate, if Obama was breaking the law, there would be repercussions. The "breaking the law" line is nothing but Fox talk. It is a phony line. Please stop.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    @Tyler D "I think most people (outside the right-wing bubble) are untroubled by this because they see these changes as largely administrative meant to make the transition smoother."

    Most people see that Obama is breaking the law in order to save it from its own stupidity. I wouldn't described them as untroubled -- it's only that they're no longer surprised.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 11:08 a.m.

    The fact is is if the people of United States elect a GOP congress and a GOP President they can pass their own legislation. Conservatives need to stop whinning and convince Americans their ideas and values are better for the country. Time to turn off the cable news and conservative blogs and hit the streets to start selling their own hope & change.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 10:42 a.m.

    The GOP howls that their vicious abuse of the process has been curtailed, that their mendacity has been checked. And Krauthammer writes a vile piece that is so partisan that he again shows his credibility is zero. Other than being a mouthpiece of the Fox propaganda machine, what value does he provide to intelligent dialogue on the issues? None whatsoever.

  • A Guy With A Brain Enid, OK
    Dec. 2, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    @ the old switcharoo - mesa, AZ - "There's no facts in your facts dude."

    Fact: 'Obamacare' is now a law.

    Fact: Due to outrage by millions of Americans, Obama has asked insurance companies to ignore the law/violate the law (that he himself pushed relentlessly to pass) by NOT cancelling customers' insurance plans because they now do not comply with the law.

    What part of that do you not understand?

    Like I said, liberals throughout the country prove time and time again that they do not like "facts" or "truth".

    Need I say more?

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Dec. 2, 2013 8:57 a.m.

    @Counter Intelligence – “Tip O'Neil shut the government down 6 times under Reagan”

    Except in those and every other case I can find, the shutdown was always over a budgetary issue (i.e., something part of the annual appropriation process).

    What’s unique about the Tea Party tantrum is that it was not… it was simply about a law they hate.

    If Tip O’Neil would have shut down the government over, say, his desire to have the Reagan tax cuts repealed (or delayed to keep the analogy relevant) than your analogy would hold.

    @Nate – “He is unilaterally dictating changes to a law passed by Congress…”

    I think most people (outside the right-wing bubble) are untroubled by this because they see these changes as largely administrative meant to make the transition smoother.

    And let’s be honest – we all know Obama is going to get zero help from congress in making sure the implementation goes well. If anything, congress will spend as much time as possible trying to gum up the works.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Dec. 1, 2013 11:15 p.m.

    @Tyler D "Oh wait, this article was supposed to be about Senate rules… how did we get to Obama again?"

    The article was about lawlessness. That's how we got to Obama. He is unilaterally dictating changes to a law passed by Congress, when his constitutional duty is to see that the laws are faithfully executed.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 1, 2013 8:21 p.m.

    one vote
    Tyler D

    Tip O'Neil shut the government down 6 times under Reagan - yet you call the latest shutdown (which was practically begged for by a vindictive and vengeful Obama and Reid) a tea party tantrum

    Apparently all it takes for a conservative to be considered evil, is to act mildly like a liberal

  • JoeBobOfUtah Roy, UT
    Dec. 1, 2013 7:11 p.m.

    IMHO, the Republicans in Washington WANTED the Democratic majority to make the changes which were made. In the end, it gives them an opportunity to practice what they do best - complain. I am not sticking up for the Democrats - I don't think that they are any better. There comes a point when the partisan infighting needs to stop and the country needs to be put first.

    Imagine if we had some real problems which needed to be addressed by our congress. Our country has faced those issues - 9/11, Pearl Harbor attack, economic collapse, civil war,assassination of presidents, slavery, riots, etc...

    If our "leaders" can't even agree on making a budget or appointing a judge, I wonder how they would perform during real problems.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Dec. 1, 2013 5:11 p.m.

    I have often wondered why some people on here who hate Dr, Krauthammer always feel obligated to read his column and never attach what he says but always attack him personally! If a conservative doesn't like what a liberal writes or says, they change the channel or skip the article. Not liberals, they demand any voice that does not agree with their ideology be shouted down, silenced and personally demeaned.

  • the old switcharoo mesa, AZ
    Dec. 1, 2013 3:23 p.m.

    There's no facts in your facts dude. They followed the senate rules in making a change to the Senate rules!

    Recess appointments are also within the senate rules and presidential powers. Bush made plenty of the same plays. You just call them terrible and unconstitutional when the other side does them and that's dishonest!

  • A Guy With A Brain Enid, OK
    Dec. 1, 2013 1:57 p.m.

    Article quote: "Barack Obama may be remembered for something similar. His violation of the proper limits of executive power has become breathtaking. It's not just making recess appointments when the Senate is in session. It's not just unilaterally imposing a law Congress had refused to pass — the DREAM Act — by brazenly suspending large sections of the immigration laws. We've now reached a point where a flailing president, desperate to deflect the opprobrium heaped upon him for the false promise that you could keep your health plan if you wanted to, calls a hasty news conference urging both insurers and the states to reinstate millions of such plans. Except that he is asking them to break the law. His own law."

    Hey!, hey!, hey now Charles! Let's not start using facts here! 'Facts' are the very things liberals absolutely refuse to believe exist.

    Someday, when all is said and done, it will be revealed with irrefutable power, that Barack Obama was THE worst U.S. president ever.

    May that day come soon....

  • freedom in 2017 paradise, UT
    Dec. 1, 2013 1:45 p.m.

    There is way too much that is unknown about Barry. What we do know though is that he is willing to do anything to have power, regardless of the constitution. We also know what a mistake it is to elect someone with absolutely no experience in doing anything. Jimmy was bad Barry is worse.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Dec. 1, 2013 8:02 a.m.

    Obama is probably the worst president in history, but he is NOT an illegal immigrant. He was born in Hawaii and his mother was an American Citizen. That makes him an American Citizen. I wish this silly birther stuff would stop. There is so much more to criticize him for that is truly legitimate.

    Charles is right on target as always!

  • woolybruce Idaho Falls, ID
    Nov. 30, 2013 10:32 a.m.

    Charles invokes the constitution, when filibuster rules are not part of the constitution, they were determined by the Senate. I don't know if this is a good idea or not, but if filibustering by the minority prevents seating of judges, then changes need to be made.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Nov. 30, 2013 8:31 a.m.

    Charles is articulate and accurate as always in his analysis of Barack. The heavy influence of "Rules For Radicals" seems to be taking hold of Barack now more than ever as his presidency spirals out of control. Rules For Radicals is the how-to bible for Marxist dictators.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Nov. 30, 2013 7:47 a.m.

    The real lack here is not B.O., it is the foolishness and ignorance of those who support him and then will turn around and criticize the next republican president, and then those who are critical of B.O. now who will then wholeheartedly support the next republican president. Both are seeing through rose colored classes without a clue as to how to make a difference to the Republic in which they live. They are both contributing to the current mess by being a part of the charade that presents itself in Washington D.C. The real patriots,mostly silent, are those who haven't handed their minds over to a political party and the Utopian socialists. The independents are the biggest force in America, something that is driving the governing parties crazy. They are represented by the libertarians, the Tea-party, the religious,and any other thinking American that knows the truth and is waiting for a real leader to emerge that won't still everyone's money, come up with phony "fixes" to real problems, and won't lie, steal, and cheat the American people. I guess that about wraps it up doesn't it?

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Nov. 29, 2013 11:52 a.m.

    @Mr. Bean – “Some day in the not too distant future, the nation will be in default.”

    That may very well be but there are constitutional norms (as Krauthammer says) for dealing with this issue - causing our creditors to question the full faith and credit of the U.S. is not one of the them.

    @ Mr. Bean – “The prima facie evidence so far in Obama's term”

    You’re misusing the term ‘prima facie,’ but I have little doubt that much of the hatred for this current president is prima facie in nature.

  • Mr. Bean Phoenix, AZ
    Nov. 29, 2013 11:12 a.m.

    [Tyler D - ...and some of our elected leaders flirting with national default.]

    Some day in the not too distant future, the nation will be in default. There's only so much money in the entire world for us to borrow... and we're almost there. And guess what... much of our national debt is the government borrowing from itself. That particular funding trick can't go on forever.

    [Tyler D - ... prima facie evidence that anything Obama does is flawed or illegitimate.]

    The prima facie evidence so far in Obama's term in the White House confirms that fact. And remember, the evidence seems to point to the scenario that the guy is an illegal immigrant. Some day when the evidence becomes available we will see that he registered at Occidental and Columbia as foreign student Barry Soetoro.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 29, 2013 10:23 a.m.

    The first 190 or so years of US history there were only talking filibusters, not procedural ones. That's why there were so few up until the Carter years and forward, because they would always end within 48 hours and not serve as perpetual barriers.

    As for what I'll think of Republicans with this power? I don't care. Democrats rarely filibustered Bush executive and judicial appointees and frankly the party that wins the White House should get to have their people put in. Leaving the filibuster for legislation and Supreme Court nominees is fine with me.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Nov. 29, 2013 9:24 a.m.

    Article quote:
    “the real problem is not etiquette but the breakdown of constitutional norms.”

    And nothing has demonstrated that fact more than the recent government shutdown (over a law that had nothing to do with the annual appropriation process) and some of our elected leaders flirting with national default.

    And then Charlie undercuts his entire argument with the following statement:

    “Nonetheless, for about 200 years the filibuster was nearly unknown in blocking judicial nominees. So we are really just returning to an earlier norm.”


    And then of course we get the requisite clumsy segue to Obamacare – that ever faithful rollout meant to provide prima facie evidence that anything Obama does is flawed or illegitimate.

    Oh wait, this article was supposed to be about Senate rules… how did we get to Obama again?

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 29, 2013 8:29 a.m.

    What did he say as to the tea party tantrum?

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    Nov. 29, 2013 7:46 a.m.

    If Democrats or liberals want to defend what Obama and Reid, supported by the majority of Democrats in Congress are doing, consider this. If this were being done by a Republican President, and a Republican House, and Senate, would you ( the Democrats) be sitting back and acknowledging all is well, it's just our system? Of course not. You know you would be saying the very same things that Mr. Krauthammer is saying. THAT should tell you something. And if it doesn't, maybe you should question just how much you REALLY support and sustain our Constitution and form of government in the first place. You might find that you really do want to live in a country run by a dictator as long as he/she dictates in the political fashion you like. If so, you have the right to think like that, but DON'T try to call yourselves Patriotic Americans who love their country, because that is not what this country is about and never has been. Strong words, but that's how I and Iam sure many many feel about what this current President and Democrats are trying to do.

  • Alfred Phoenix, AZ
    Nov. 29, 2013 1:23 a.m.

    Right on, Charles!!

    Unfortunately we have a situation where a well deserved presidential impeachment will likely not take place. I think Americans are rapidly coming to the conclusion that we have a dictator in our nation's White House. Let's hope next election that at least the Senate will change so Harry will have to step down as leader. We've had about enough from him.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Nov. 29, 2013 12:23 a.m.

    Charlie, you've committed criminal hyperbolic speculation with this one. We've gone past an outbreak of lawlessness, which our nation celebrates, to an outbreak of stupid. Our nation celebrates this, too, but shouldn't.