David Weigel in Slate:
One can, as most Republicans prefer to do, remember what happened in 2005, when Republicans wanted to end filibusters on judicial nominees and every Democrat—including our current president—predicted nuclear fallout, brimstone, and exploding skulls.
We do know how the Senate came to change its rules today, a vote that represented the biggest victory for the left since the election of President Barack Obama. That process started in the first weeks of 2009, after a Democratic landslide mighty enough to sweep even Al Franken into the upper house. The Republicans, who’d held 55 seats during the 2005 “nuclear option” fight, were down to 41. A new class of Democrats, including Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, buckled in for action.
They got a slog. An economic stimulus package, once expected to get up to 80 votes, got over the 60-vote cloture line only with huge concessions to three Republicans. A simple omnibus parks funding bill took weeks to pass. Then, in May, just enough Republicans held together to filibuster the president’s nominee for deputy secretary of the Interior. To Majority Leader Harry Reid’s surprise, the Democratic left honed in quickly on the filibuster, demanding that he change it.