Subtitle: On how Nate Silver uses statistics to prove Harry Reid has allowed Republicans to walk all over him. You know, I'm far from convinced that the auto bailout has to happen, but I am sure that the threat of the filibuster from Republicans is an abuse of that power, and it's about time that the Democrats started forcing Republicans to actually filibuster instead of just threaten it. I haven't forgotten how the Democrats had to fight to keep the filibuster alive at all a few years ago. How very nice of them to do that so that the Republicans can use the threat of the filibuster to shut down anything the Democratic majority wants to do. Wouldn't it have been rich if short-sighted Republicans had killed the filibuster only to lose control of the Senate? John McCain presented the Gang of 14 situation as evidence of what a friendly, bipartisan guy he is, but the reality is that he's just slightly less stupid and short-sighted than his fellow Republicans. And that's saying a lot when you consider that this is the man who picked Sarah Palin as a running mate.
Anyway, screw the commentary. Let's get to the charts! Nate Silver demonstrates how the Republicans are shameless bastards when it comes to using the threat of the filibuster.
Here is the ugly reality: Republicans refuse to accept that Democrats are legitimate leaders. Thus, you can't handle them with kid gloves. But that's what Senate Democrats are doing when they simply give up when the Republicans threaten to filibuster.
Not all of these cloture motions, it should be noted, were necessitated by obstructionist Republicans. In some cases, such as on FISA and on certain resolutions related to the Iraq War, a minority of Democrats were seeking to prevent a vote. Undoubtedly, however, a majority of these cloture motions were in fact triggered by Republican floor action, and the vast majority of them were also procedural filibusters -- the actual filibuster, in which Mitch McConnell wets his pants while reading from the phone book for 19 hours, is now exceedingly rare.
The solution to this problem is obvious: Make them do it. Filibusters aren't just exceedingly rare, they don't happen at all anymore. A real filibuster would be a huge news event. It would also be awesome to see Mitch McConnell---or any Senate Republican really---stand there reading from the phone book until he passed out or wet himself. Such an event would make Senate Republicans really face up to the basic reality they don't want to own, which is that they are the minority party now. What's Reid's problem that he won't really do it? Does it just offend his sense of propriety? Or is he so used to being bullied by Republicans that he hasn't completely grasped that he's really the one in charge now?
Nate holds out hope that Obama and Joe Biden especially will be able to change the culture of the Senate so that Democrats are emboldened to play hardball. I'm not so sure about that, but one thing I am sure of is that Obama will have to heed this strategy if he wants to be anything more than a one-term wonder. Because if he gets in the White House and can't seem to get anything done with a Democratic majority in Congress, he'll come across to the voters as a first class weenie and they'll toss him out on his ass. So the only hope that we have at this point is that Obama brings his survival and campaign skills to the office, which to be fair, seems likely to happen.