Friday, February 6, 2009

the bluster over filibuster

This is sort of a semi-response to a DailyKos discussion of "The Myth of 60" in a diary which was itself a variation of a theme Kagro X has explored before: that the so-called "magic number" of 60 senators to make things "filibuster-proof" is a bunch of malarkey.

Oh, it would be awfully nice if it were true. Then we could actually find out what would happen in a world governed by the left. But this is Obama-nation, a nation of compromise and post-partisanship, at least as seen from the POV of the left, and thus when we speak whimsically of the filibuster-proof majority we are talking about a concept that, even if it could actually accomplish something, would be doing something that our president does not even want.

However, that is not the real issue anyway. The real issue is far simpler: for all of their talk and threats, there is simply no way that the Republicans will filibuster either of the two most important bills that the administration will be sending to them. They have too much to lose if they do and absolutely nothing to gain.

There is probably no doubt that President Obama made both a philosophical error and a strategic error in his first major attempt at bipartisan dealings with the Republicans. Philosophically, he made the mistake of assuming that anyone on the other side of the aisle actually cares more about rescuing the country than rescuing their party from its self-created and richly deserved governmental exile. The unanimous GOP "no" vote in the House proved that, at least in that chamber, his assumption was entirely mistaken. We shall see, maybe today, whether it is also in error in the Senate.

Strategically, as Rachel Maddow has pointed out on several occasions, he made the elementary negotiating error of giving away too much far too easily and too soon. Handing the GOP what should have been its biggest desire, the $300 billion in tax cuts, essentially as a "gift," might have seemed like immense largess to the president (and in fact was) but has been taken by the GOP as a signal that this White House is weak and can be manipulated. Obama might have predicted that a party built on manipulation and backroom dealing would never recognize an honest front-end offer for what it is. He should have predicted that. He did not, and now there is really no further room for any serious negotiation, and the GOP is left saying that the Dems will not listen to them.

Certainly Obama and the Democrats have, by giving in to their desire for post-partisanship, ended up with a far weaker and less effective bill than they might otherwise have presented to the country. And still it does not seem to "satisfy" the Republican minority.

Every day Mitch McConnell and his cadre of cretinous cronies cackle on and on about whatever their Talking Point of the Moment might happen to be (though half the time it's something that has been settled and even removed from the bill already), threatening the president with the withholding of their votes from the ultimate bill. And the Democrats say they "don't have enough votes" to pass the package, by which they mean they don't have that magic 60. But the thing is: they don't need sixty votes. No one is going to have to stop a filibuster.

Let's explore the reasons why the GOP would never filibuster this bill, or the health care bill that will be coming, Ted Kennedy promises us, before the year is out.

First of all, despite every bit of evidence to the contrary, the GOP senators are not stupid. Some of them are actually quite intelligent. As for the rest? Willfully ignorant, yes. Morally bankrupt, undoubtedly. Self-righteous and greedy? Check. But not stupid. The nation's economy is in the crapper and the GOP has been loudly and publicly blamed for the problem with resounding losses in the last two elections. They are in serious danger of being relegated to the status of meaningless regional party, and they know it. Not a one of them would ever admit it, but they know it. They are a party in as much disarray as the Democrats were when they were struggling through their fractured factionalized days back in the early seventies. You know, the ones that led to Richard Nixon winning landslide victories?

The GOP sees Barack Obama and his 70%+ approval ratings and they know what they are up against. They see their own subterranean approval ratings and they know what they are up against. They are in trouble. If they filibuster the stimulus package, it will be entirely their fault that it fails to pass. If they filibuster the health care bill, it will be entirely their fault that the 50 million Americans without health care remain in ever-present danger of catastrophe. They cannot allow this to be the case.

So what are their options?

With the stimulus bill, they've already done their dirty work: they have loaded it up with tax relief instead of infrastructure programs--with the full cooperation of the president--so that the bill probably cannot accomplish what it sets out to do. Now all they have to do is let the program fail. And the hilarious thing is that its failure, which itself would reinforce the fact that their outmoded ideas are wrong wrong wrong, will be used by them as evidence that they were right all along! So the GOP is left with a difficult decision: whether they wish to vote for it, re-emphasizing their devotion to their so-called ideals, or against it, which is in effect a vote that repudiates everything that they stand for. But they are not in a position to filibuster the thing.

Unless they are in fact stupid.

Oh wait. They do have that Vitter guy, don't they?


it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

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