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December 10, 2010


I continue to maintain that we'd be better off returning to the pre-1970's "reforms" of the filibuster rule, which would leave filibusters safe, legal and rare.

It'd be interesting to see whether the political scientists who are now encouraging a change in the filibuster rule were also encouraging a change when Republicans held a majority in the Senate and it was the Democrats who made use of the filibuster. One reason Senate Democrats may not be too eager to change the rule is that they can look ahead and see when they may be in that position again.

It's also not entirely clear why a change in the filibuster rule makes a big difference under present circumstances. Republican control of the next House of Representatives is likely to be the principal impediment to legislation favored by Democrats; Republicans' ability to filibuster Senate bills seems of secondary importance.

Because they are his friends?

How can this be?

I thought President Obabma was the greatest communicator since {insert name}... ;-)

James Taranto offers an alternative explanation for Obama's problems with his base

Obama's left-wing detractors do not just disagree with him about what is practical. They are at war with reality itself. The real object of their anger is America, for not being the kind of country they wish it were. They deluded themselves into believing that Obama, through the power of his personality, could transform America according to their vision. It was a totally unrealistic expectation, so of course he failed to live up to it. That is why they are bitterly disappointed in him.

Another theory, which would seem consistent with other Nyhan posts, would blame economic conditions for Obama's problems with his base. If a bad economy is the major factor in reducing a President's popularity, it would seem that its effect might apply to the President's supporters as well as independents and the opposing party.

Obama is doing a really poor job of messaging Senate rules to the American public. Maybe Senate rules are not part of his 'sentence'.

Rob, have you seen this?

Maybe centrist Dems have made their (limited) support for his agenda conditional on Obama (and Reid) not asking for Senate reform? If, say, while stimulus was being argued over, Obama started complaining about the filibuster, then reporters would have started asking Senators what they thought about the filibuster, and chances are a good chunk of Senate Dems actually like or liked it, thus implying that Obama was blaming them for the small stimulus.

I did see it, David, and even though it wasn't an actual filibuster--i.e., it wasn't being done to prevent a bill from being voted on by the Senate--it warmed the cockles of my heart. Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont, treated us to an old-fashioned stem-winder. Was his inspiration Fidel Castro's marathon speeches or Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"? Who cares? It was political theater at its finest.

To some degree, I believe the whining by Dems in Congress reflects a desire to reward their backers, more than disapproval of the President. In order negotiate the inclusion of their desired pork, they need to come out strongly against the agreement.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, this tactic is likely to work. The Senate has already added ethanol funding, which even Al Gore now admits is not good policy. No doubt many other special interest goodies will be included in the final bill.

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