I’d like to be taken at least a little bit seriously in terms of what I write here, and I know full well that beginning any post with a giant, all-caps “AAAAAAAAARRRGH,” followed by several exclamation points will make me seem like all-that-is-wrong-and-laughable-about-bloggers in a nutshell. Nevertheless, sometimes, there’s genuinely nothing that better than a good AAAAAAAARRRGH!!!!! to sum up the feeling many of us on the left have when we read certain articles in the press.
In May, Harry Reid apologized for killing off a 2010 filibuster reform bill, admitting that the legislative procedure has been “abused, abused, and abused.” Reid has now gone a step farther: the Senate Majority Leader is now openly promising to pass filibuster reform in the beginning of the next Congress if Democrats manage to hold onto a simple majority in the Senate and if Obama is reelected.
Really, Senator? The procedure has been abused? Who knew? (hint: that was sarcasm – EVERYBODY KNEW (even me), well in advance of the January, 2011 opportunity to reform the filibuster). As they say on Twitter, SMH – “shaking my head.” Or, even better: AAAAAAAARRRGH!!!! Because, of course, as any number of bloggers, reporters, television commentators and average citizens who follow politics could’ve told you several years ago, the fact that the GOP minority in the Senate has been trying to force their will-of-the-minority on the country by abusing the filibuster since the Democrats took control of the Senate in 2006 is about the least-surprising item in politics, currently. It’s not even questionable:
This information wasn’t secret prior to January, 2011, either. But apparently, it was news to Harry Reid — or, perhaps, due to his close, clubby, “collegial” relationship with the other 99 members’ of the world’s most exclusive club – US Senators – Reid just “felt,” in his heart of hearts, that the GOP just wouldn’t DO such mean-spirited things for political gain. After all, Reid personally knows all those GOP Senators, and they’re really great, once you get to know them! They’d never do that to him!
Of course, I am exaggerating out of frustration what Reid’s actual position probably was at the time in 2010/early 2011. But not by much, I’d bet. What other explanation could there be for one of the people who’s closest to the matter being one of the few people anywhere who couldn’t see the reality of GOP filibuster abuse (or at least couldn’t see the need to take any action regarding it)? Let’s not forget, while we’re at it, that Harry Reid doesn’t have an exactly stellar track record when it comes to prognosticating about what will happen in the body he helms, at least in terms of predicting other Senators’ actions based upon what Reid “knows” of their intentions and their hearts:
First of all, Joe Lieberman, Joe Lieberman is my friend, and he is a good Democrat, votes with us on everything, except the war. So Joe Lieberman is easy to work with.
That was Senator Reid, utilizing his obsidian ball to predict in December of 2007 how easy Joe Lieberman would be to work with in the upcoming congressional session. How’d THAT work out, Senator?
So now, on Friday’s The Ed Show, Harry Reid says, in true Rocky and Bullwinkle fashion, that now he’s ready to really do filibuster reform (“this time, for SURE!“). Reid alluded to having had a change of mind on this back in mid-May, when he apologized to Senators Udall and Merkley (the principal sponsors of genuine filibuster reform in 2010/11) for having squelched their efforts.
So, great news, right? I mean, if Reid now recognizes the foolishness of his past mistake on filibuster reform and is now fully committed to seeing it through, Democrats can simply do at the start of the 2012 congressional session what they could have done at the start of 2010: change the rules of the filibuster, since they are the majority party in the Senate. The beauty of it is, such rule-changes, under the Merkley-Udall plan, are not themselves subject to filibuster, meaning a simple majority vote would suffice.
So what’s the problem? Well, although a lot is still up in the air, and many factors (not least of which may be the outcome of the Presidential race itself) could affect the makeup of next Senate, it’s now appearing likely that the Democrats won’t control the Senate in January, 2012:
Currently, we project the most likely outcome to be Republicans winning 50 seats, Democrats 49, and Mr. King the seat in Maine. Under those circumstances, the Democrats would retain control of the Senate if Mr. King caucused with them and President Obama won re-election, making Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. the tiebreaking vote. Otherwise, Republicans would control the chamber.
In other words, Reid’s abject failure to strike while the iron was hot – when Senate Democrats actually had the CHANCE to make meaningful filibuster reform – not only cost him (and the country) dozens of potential legislative victories to continued GOP obstructionistic abuse of the filibuster from 2010-2012, but also likely put the entire idea of filibuster reform into indefinite limbo, if not outright killed it.
This is a textbook example of what progressives mean when we talk about frustration with Washington – both the executive and legislative branches. Think of this the next time you see the the equivalent of AAAAAAAARRRGH!!!!! coming from a progressive. It’s nice to know Reid recognizes progressives were right in 2009/10 about filibuster reform. It’d have been a lot nicer if it hadn’t taken yet another two years of being able to get very little accomplished for him to realize it.