A Senate Democratic staffer e-mails with an interesting -- and off-message -- theory:
I always thought that McConnell is actually giddy about being nuked. I know there are Rs who are concerned for the right reasons – health of the institution, retribution that would make it hard to pass much of anything, etc.
But if you’re McConnell…wouldn’t you want Reid to nuke you? It helps you raise money with the base, it means you don’t have to negotiate these nominations that your base doesn’t like, and it leaves the door wide open to nuke us back – and worse – if they take over.
I know there’s this theory that McConnell and Reid are doing the dance and you reported that. And I hope that’s the case. But if I were Machiavellian about things, and I sort of am, I’d want to get nuked because all it does at the moment is allow Dems to proceed with nominations. Once they’re in the majority and they nuke the filibuster, then they can pass all kinds of crazy stuff. You could argue that there might be some Republican divisions that would prevent a small GOP majority from passing truly awful things, but Republicans are way better at falling into line than Democrats are, and we all know what kind of stuff the House is passing.
Reid is in an awful place and understandably frustrated, but I think McConnell gets off easy in some sense if we nuke them. He won't have to negotiate on much of anything or bridge the gaps between conservatives and the Rs who want to get stuff done. He can throw his hands up and say, well, they nuked us, so I can't stop their nominations, and he can spend more time raising money. Nuking the Rs makes McConnell's job easier, not harder.