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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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November 21st, 2013
04:35 PM ET

Senators sang a different tune on the 'nuclear option' back in 2005

America is now living in the aftermath of a nuclear strike – metaphorically speaking, of course.

The Senate Democrats changed the rules Thursday so that now it only takes a simple majority vote of 51 to break a filibuster on executive and judicial nominees, instead of 60 votes under the old rules.

It's referred to as the "nuclear option."

Democrats pulled a "Dr. Strangelove" out of frustration over Republicans blocking President Barack Obama's nominees to an unprecedented degree. And today's action did not require both parties turning the launch keys.

Obama applauded the move, claiming that the obstructionism from the other side had gotten so bad, there was little choice.

"Today's pattern of obstruction, it just isn't normal," the president said Thursday. "I support the step a majority of senators today took to change the way that Washington is doing business."

But you know who might not agree with the president? Senator Barack Obama in 2005, when the GOP was trying to do the same thing to push then-President George W. Bush's nominees through.

"If the right to free and open debate is taken away from the minority party, and the millions of Americans who ask us to be their voice, I fear that the already partisan atmosphere in Washington will be poisoned to the point where no one will be able to agree on anything," the future president said in 2005.

Republicans, obviously, are furious about the rule change – it takes away one of their most powerful weapons in the Senate. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reminded his Democratic colleagues that they may not like this rule change if they find themselves in the minority in the future.

"Rather than learn from past precedents on judicial nominations that they themselves set, Democrats now want to set another one. I have no doubt that if they do, they will come to regret that one as well," McConell said.

Of course, McConnell felt a bit differently in 2005, when he thought it was a swell idea, since his party was in the majority, and was sick of Democratic obstructionism.

"The current Senate majority intends to do what the majority in the Senate has often done," McConnell said in May of 2005. "Reform Senate procedure by a simple majority vote. Despite the incredulous protestations of our Democratic colleagues, the Senate has repeatedly adjusted its rules as circumstances dictate."

We could do this all day. There is no end to the clips of senators contradicting their former stances on the nuclear option, ever since control of the Senate shifted in 2007.

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