About that Filibuster…

Deja Vu’ is a cruel mistress, as I’m sure most of us with a few gray hairs have figured out by now. But in the wake of the crumbling health care debacle … (I’m sorry – “debate”) it’s hitting some of us awfully hard today. I couldn’t help but notice quite a few supporters of Obamacare ™ chiming in with their mournful regrets about the Senate filibuster. These include the always enjoyable Steve Benen, chiming in on Paul Krugman’s column about those nasty Republicans and how wonderful the world would be if we could just stop them from filibustering all of these fabulous Democratic ideas! (For the record, Steve is a great writer on the progressive side of the aisle and he frequently makes points I agree with, though I reserve the right to call him out when I feel he’s gone astray.)

I was preparing to write yet another in our series of “Be Careful What You Wish For” columns in response to Steve’s complaints when I was suddenly halted by an overpowering wave of deja vu. Hold on! Didn’t we already do this? We did! In fact, it was when he published a column last February calling for an end to the filibuster. At the time I penned a brief response to him. (This was a follow-up to an earlier column we ran in January.)

Listen, Democrats… you didn’t like it when the GOP was running the table on you, stopping all of your agenda and building audition tapes for Legislators Gone Wild. If you didn’t have the filibuster, what judges would be sitting on all the courts right now? What other legislation would be in place? Now take a look at the stimulus (I’m sorry… porkulus) package you just hung around your own necks. If that doesn’t work some miracles in the next 18 months, you may be looking at hard times in 2010. Do you want to hand that kind of power to your opponents?

Well, Steve, I’m looking at the bottom of my mug this evening and reading some tea leaves. They don’t exactly require a gypsy queen to interpret. I’m watching Obama’s approval rating slide further and further underwater and the Democratic Congressional majority’s numbers stay in sub-Cheney ranges. I’m watching fluctuations in the generic ballot across the nation from month to month. There’s something coming next November and it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out what it is. And absent a major change in the unemployment figures by late 2011, that Obama reelection race isn’t looking like a shoe-in either.

You want to get rid of the filibuster to ram through the current Democratic wish list items and leave those powers on the table for the next crew? Three words…

I… Dare.. You…

10 Comments

  1. The Filibuster is one of the best aspects of our government, helping to control the tyranny of the majority and to bring some sense of moderation past 51% > 49%

  2. I think passing a health care reform bill will help Democrats in the next election.

    I would like to see the Republicans get serious and make some legitimate budget cutting proposals. Of course, at this point, it's all wishful thinking. I remember the conventional wisdom in December of 2007 had Hillary v Rudy in the presidential race.

  3. Oh, please…

    If we got rid of the Filibuster, we could actually get some decent legislating done, as for the Democrats not having it when the Republicans are in the majority, I am fine with that… Imagine how thoroughly the Republicans would have fucked the country over if the Democrats would not have had the Filibuster when Bush was in the White House, and imagine how popular they would be today…

  4. If we got rid of the filibuster legislation would flip-flop faster than John Kerry on the campaign trail with each change of power.

  5. Do you really want this?

    If the Republicans had not had the filibuster to stop them between 2002 and 2004, they would have repealed Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, would have made the entire country “Right to Work”, would have probably repealed Roe v Wade, killed the department of education and downsized quite a bit of government. The voting public would have had the opportunity to appreciate the results of Republican Policy, and suffer the consequences when the economy went into recession, and the backlash would have made 2008 look like a great republican year…

  6. have made the entire country “Right to Work”

    Ohhh sexy!!!!

    Anyhow. the last time either side had a filibuster proof Majority was the 95th United States Congress from 1977-1979. We know what happened next, The Reagan Revolution.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/t

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Sena

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Hous

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_gube

    Republican sweep!

    Facts are stubborn things.

  7. Leonidas–

    Facts are stubborn things.

    Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

  8. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

    Entirely true, but recent experience has tended to support the view that when one party gains a signifigant control of government the other party tends to make gains in elections soon afterwards. That has applied to both parties, there is a moderating voice at the ballot box from the American people.

  9. DQ -

    OK, here, in one simple to understand example, is why even hypocrites such as yourself that refuse to remember recent history (like the Bush II Presidency) should nonetheless still be in favor of the filibuster:

    Associate Supreme Court Justice Harriet Ellan Miers

  10. Leonidas–

    With all due respect to what you're saying, what I'm saying is that there is a difference between fact and interpretation, however much that interpretation may reflect the conventional wisdom.

    And this is intended to clarify my meaning, not to attack you.

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