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The Party of the Filibuster

January 5th, 2009

Remember when the Republicans despised the filibuster, even used intermittently, so much so that they seriously threatened the “nuclear option” of doing away with the rule altogether? It was such an un-Democratic thing, they claimed, to prevent a straight up-or-down vote. Forget that Democrats were not using the filibuster much more than Republicans had themselves in the past.

Now? Well, now they’re not in charge any more, they can’t ramrod through their own agenda any more. So, naturally, they love the filibuster. Can’t get enough of it. See:


Those red areas were when Republicans controlled Congress. The last bar on the right was the last two years.

This is one reason they are fighting like mad to prevent Al Franken from being seated as the new Senator from Minnesota: he’d represent the 59th Democratic-caucus vote, meaning that Republicans would have to force such unity within their ranks that even one lost vote could take away their excessive use of the filibuster. And we can’t have that!

Irony: when Democrats attempt to seat Franken, how will the Republicans try to stop them? Yep, you guessed it: with a filibuster!

Remember Trent Lott’s famous words: “The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail … so far it’s working for us.”

It remains to be seen how obstructionist the Republicans will be able to be this time around.

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  1. January 6th, 2009 at 00:23 | #1

    Let’s hope that the Senate leadership requires that they actually filibuster, rather than just have fake, no-effort things as they’ve been getting away with (with one exception in the last Congress, that I can recall.)

    Make ’em come in and rant 24 hours a day, for a few days.

    That should supply us with some interesting video clips, and Obama’s press secretary can provide daily highlights of Republican senators babbling into the night, reading from phone books, etc.

    A few choice videos could then get a few senators too embarrassed to join in future filibusters.

  2. Tim Kane
    January 6th, 2009 at 04:13 | #2

    Here, Here, on the “make them filibuster.” How many real filibusters would they have had if they really had to do the heavy lifting.

    Further more, the requirement of 60 votes to end a filibuster seems excessive to me. They should chip that down to 56 or something like that.

    The Senate is an inherently undemocratic institution anyway. States like Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming have populations lower than suburban city of Mesa. Those 3 states alone have 6 senate votes and can go a long way towards stopping the passage of legislation vital to the other 300 million citizens of the United States. With a fillibuster of only 40 states vital legislation can be permanently blocked.

    On another subject, I am growing to loath Obama’s rading the Senate and other elected institutions for so much of his administration.

    First he didn’t need to resign his own seat so soon. That gave birth to Blagogate which is now going to permanently deny Illinois one senator and is likely to insure that the next Senator and Governor from Illinois will be a Republican. Way to go there. We are also losing Hillary and an elected Senator from Colorado. I’m okay with how the New York situation is working out with Hillary at State and Caroline in the Senate, but in general we need strong bench players in the Senate.

    In Arizona Nepolitano will be stepping down as Governor and that means a Republican will replace her and together with a Republican legislature, means bad things for the state and for the Democratic Party in Arizona.

    Obama is a contrast with Bush. With Bush everything was Political. I do wish Obama would measure the political calculus of his appointments more carefully.

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