by Max Brantley
(To clarify: The following is an excerpt from the Daily Howler's quote of Rachel Maddow, with his emphasis supplied.)
So, the president went to meet with Senate Democrats today, not with Republicans, because if he does have any problem passing his legislative agenda, it will be because of opposition from his own party. [Comical voice] Who exactly am I doing this fund-raiser for again?
Yes. A group of 16 self-proclaimed moderate Democrats in the Senate have recently joined forces to essentially put the brakes on President Obama’s agenda, by forming a second right flank against him along with the Republicans.
Today, they defended that strategy in an op-ed in the Washington Post. Senators Evan Bayh, Tom Carper and Blanche Lincoln said, quote, "It is not our intent to water down the president’s agenda. We intend to strengthen and sustain it."
They go on to argue that, the way they see it, there’s no way to pass anything through the Senate except by going through them. Quote: "On nearly all important votes, a super-majority of 60 senators will be needed to pass legislation. Without Democratic moderates working to find common ground with reasonable Republicans, the president`s agenda could well be filibustered into oblivion."
“Filibustered into oblivion.” That sounds bad, right? And if you support President Obama getting his agenda passed, that agenda being [comical voice] filibustered into oblivion—that would be bad. How could that be avoided? Well, one way would to be to not let the Republicans filibuster everything.
Democrats have the choice of bringing up important legislation under rules that don’t allow a filibuster. Legislation like health care reform or the global warming bill could just require a simple majority vote, 51 votes, in order to pass. No “filibustering into oblivion.” Problem solved, right?
Well, conservative Democrats are blocking that—because they want the Republicans to be able to stop Obama’s agenda? Democrats do? How can you simultaneously warn that the Republican filibuster could send the president’s agenda into “oblivion” and then argue in favor of that filibuster?
I mean, of course, you can simultaneously argue for those two things: They’ll kill the president’s agenda! I want them to be able to kill the president’s agenda! You can argue for those two things, but then you can’t also get away with saying you’re in favor of the president’s agenda. Not if you`re being forced to make sense, that is.
In the United States Senate right now, Democrats control 58 seats. Republicans hold 41 seats. In other words, Democrats have a huge majority because voters decided to send that many Democrats to Washington alongside the new Democratic president—thinking, and I know this is a leap here, but thinking presumably that a Democratic president with big Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress might do Democratic things, might pass a Democratic agenda.
Anyone voting against a Democratic agenda voted Republican. Those votes produced a vewwy small Republican minority in Congress. A small minority that now has way more power than they otherwise would because of conservative Democrats deciding to give Republicans as much power as they can.
In general, the American people, I don’t think, are all that concerned with process, right? With how many votes you need to pass something. Pass health care reform with 90 votes or with 51 votes—I don’t care. Just pass it!
You know what might concern them, though, the fact that the country can elect 58 Democratic senators—58!—and the Democrats still can’t figure out how to get stuff passed! They still can’t figure out how to get major policies passed without watering those policies down or even blocking them to inexplicably please the Republicans.