Null Hypothesis

James Fallows has been using the term “nullification” to talk the ways that Republicans in the Senate are using the filibuster to keep from appointing a director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. By doing so, they’re making sure that a law already passed by Congress simply doesn’t go into effect. The whole thing is worth a read.

In a follow-up, one of Fallows’ readers says this:

I believe what will happen will in some ways be worse, at least in the short term, if perhaps sadly better in the long term: if the GOP retakes the Senate after the 2012 elections, they’ll simply abolish the filibuster.

I think this is exactly right. The minute there are 51 Republicans in the Senate, we’re going to hear howls of “straight up or down vote”. They’ll be aided and abetted by the DC media, who will inform us that the filibuster is a relic of bygone days that has been abused by both sides, it’s high time that it was eliminated, it really is a scandal that it has persisted so long, and the nation is lucky that Republicans are patriotic enough to foster a reform that’s long overdue.






93 replies
  1. 1
    Guster says:

    Of course they will. And why not? It’s perfectly legal, and within their rights.

    My problem isn’t that they’ll abolish the filibuster, my problem is what they’ll do after it’s abolished–and that we didn’t have the political courage to abolish it our ourselves.

    Republicans are deep into projection, where they ascribe every one of their sins to Democrats.

    But we’re deep into … I don’t even know what the word is. Jealousy? Indignation? Self-loathing? Where we are horrified that the Republicans actually exploit the same power that we were too timid to touch.

  2. 2
    Schlemizel says:

    I think this was much more of a probability when the Republicans believed they had built a thousand year reich. Now that they know they can be in the minority I think they will rely on the party discipline to vote in lock-step so that they can abuse the hell out of holds & filibusters when they are in the minority. When they are in the majority you will see them peeling off a few Dems and whining on TV about how unfair those tools are to the majority.

  3. 3
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    This. The GOP is committed to a strategy of breaking government so as to prove that government is ineffective. The media, meanwhile, is distracted by the shiny. We had a good run.

  4. 4
    amk says:

    Doing away with filibuster – doesn’t that require 60 votes ?

  5. 5
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Guster: Normally it’s called restraint, and it is usually a very sought after trait in people, especially leaders. Democrats should be rewarded for showing restraint, and Republicans should be punished. The fact that the opposite has been happening for the last 30 years shows how fucked up we are here.

  6. 6
    The Tragically Flip says:

    No, this is wrong. The GOP is that cynical, but not that stupid. The Republicans will end the filibuster if they absolutely have to in order to pass something important to them, but they’ll only do it if Democrats force them to by relentlessly filibustering something (a fairly rare event). Only if all their usual media histronics fail to bring over enough conservadems to their side on whatever issue, then they’ll go nuclear.

    They’ll also only do it if there is a Republican President and a Republican House ready to pass and sign whatever they’re trying to do.

    Once they go this route, they’ll do their best to find some trick whereby they end a filibuster “just this once,” (see: Bush v Gore) while leaving it in place on the books.

    Think of the sophistry that went into the artificial distinction they drew between Judicial filibusters (BAD!!!, at least in 2004-2006) and legislative filibusters (A-OK!). The “nuclear option” fiasco proved they would selectively end the filibuster to do the things they want, but leave it in place for future need.

  7. 7
    amk says:

    @Comrade Javamanphil: The media is not distracted by the shiny. Their sole purpose is the distract the masses by the shiny to improve their bottom-line and thereby serve their rw corporate masters.

  8. 8
    AlladinsLamp says:

    They won’t have need to. There will always be enough D’s who will vote with the R’s to get to 60.

  9. 9
    Guster says:

    @amk: 51, I believe. It’s a rules issue.

    This is interesting, too, and anticipates many of the left-sided concerns: http://www.dailykos.com/story/.....ter-reform

  10. 10

    It’s not the filibuster itself that’s the problem, it’s the assumed filibuster that results in the 60 vote requirement. Leave the filibuster, change the senate rules.

  11. 11
    Elizabelle says:

    Thank you for posting on nullification and filibuster abuse. It’s horrifying.

    Further, I wish we’d see the Democrats talking about this, simply and repetitively. Your average American has no idea that Republicans are so radical and thwarting much-needed reforms.

    One solution is: don’t give them the Senate.

    Commit to make calls and contact voters who will give Obama some coat tails.

    Not all those Republican seats are as safe as you might think.

  12. 12
    ellennelle says:

    this filibuster situation is far more dangerous than anyone grasps right now, especially given its origins in the mid-19th century. fallows’ emphasis has been, – and rightly so, i think – on the media’s inability to call these filibuster threats for what they are, including the nullification prospects with the cordray nomination. if any of those media types had any working neurons, and then cajones, they’d note that these actions are in direct violation of their oath of office to protect and defend the constitution, not their party’s whining tantrums of entitlement (in the truest sense of that word, not their distortion of it).

    so the media is failing in their role as the fourth estate – hoocoodanode? you mean, the corporate media? the alleged ‘liberal’ media? missing these inconvenient factoids? really?

    i may have missed discussion here on frum’s piece in the wsj a ways back, but was just directed there through this interview, where he lambastes fox (YES!! FOX!!) for creating an alternative knowledge universe.

    some call it propaganda. in any case, embedded within the wsj piece is one line (sigh; take reality where you can get it) that acknowledges the republican filibuster problem.

    still, the whole thing is well worth the read, even if it’s (predictably) wrong-headed on several points.

  13. 13
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @amk: No, the Republicans proved in 2005 with the “nuclear option” episode that 50 plus the Senate President was sufficient.

    The rules don’t spell that out, and make it seem like you need 67 or you need to do it on the first legislative day or whatever, but it’s all bullshit. The Senate is a legislative body, and if the majority wants something, they can do it, unless constrained from outside by the Constitution or by previously passed laws.

  14. 14
    Ronbo says:

    The secret “hold” in the Senate is rarely used by Dems because, it is no secret, the Dems are merely Tails, while the Repubs are Heads – just different sides of the same coin in the pocket of the wealthy.

    Either way the coin lands, the public loses. There are a couple good politicions out there…somewhere. I hope.

  15. 15
    Guster says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Restraint! Is that what they call it when you refuse to use your power to help people, for fear that someone else will use their power to hurt people?

    We’ve really internalized all that emboldenizing that GWB used to talk about.

    I guess, ideally, there’s a tension between restraint and boldness within each party. But right now one party embodies the former, and one the latter. I think there’s only one sensible way forward, and I don’t expect the Republicans to learn restraint.

  16. 16
    Elizabelle says:

    I guess Harry Reid doesn’t make them actually filibuster so as to preserve some time for business?

    Because maybe it would be good to let the American public see what’s going on. They don’t understand process and they’re not getting the information they need from the nightly news and most newspapers, even major ones.

  17. 17
    Minnesota Dave says:

    The GOP won’t abolish the filibuster unless they take the presidency and retain the house, and I don’t see them taking the presidency as of now. But if they get the Trifecta, then yes, of course they will abolish, absolutely. But it will be their undoing in the end. If we ever make it to a 2016 general election. In the interim they will adopt a set of the most unpopular and radical laws imaginable. An outraged public — through the accountability conferred by elimination of the filibuster — will finally understand what it is that the GOP is all about and the party will finally collapse. Because their entire platform, which they will attempt to move heaven an earth to pass into law, if deeply unpopular with the American people at every level.

    We democrats, IMHO, should have abolished the filibuster in 2010. But we are a party of restraint and moderation, and were generally adopting laws broadly consistent with the will of the American public. Not so much overreach in my opinion.

  18. 18
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    @amk: Every media outlet this morning is talking about Romney’s 10K bet (which while stupid should hardly be a disqualifying gaffe.) I don’t think the corporate offices instructed them to do this. Instead, I think they hired just the sort of people who would love to report gossip about this sort of thing. Regardless, the result is the same.

  19. 19
    Snowball says:

    if the GOP retakes the Senate after the 2012 elections, they’ll simply abolish the filibuster.

    Unless they keep the House as well as win the White House, I doubt it. What would be the point?

    1. Obama would simply veto everything.
    2. Or the House would block it
    3. And if the Dems regain the Senate in 2014, the Dems could use it against GOP.

  20. 20
    ellennelle says:

    hm. this is pretty interesting, addressing the question of just how a filibuster can be over-ridden, and how the filibuster rule can be over-ridden.

  21. 21
    amk says:

    @Minnesota Dave: If the public votes for the trifecta in 2012, then that public isn’t worth saving.

  22. 22
    Elizabelle says:

    Tie the fact that nullification is being used to benefit the plutocrats.

    No other reason for the Cordray non-vote, and who wants to see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the control of Congress, which even the dimmest realize is bought and paid for by the wealthy and connected?

    The CFPB needs to be independent.

    If this issue gets hammered again and again, it could have legs.

    It’s maddening.

  23. 23
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @Cris (without an H): It’s not the filibuster itself that’s the problem,

    Yes, it is the problem. I agree that making it more difficult by requiring the onus of effort to be on the filibustering minority to sustain a filibuster, rather than the majority to end one would be an improvement, but the whole thing needs to go. Let the majority rule. Nothing else makes any democratic sense. There’s already a constitution and an enforceable bill of rights to protect people from tyranny of the majority, and in any case, the filibuster is a really shitty mechanism for protecting minority rights unless the “minority” you are a member of is rich white male.

    The Senate itself is a democratic embarrassment – a whole legislative chamber dedicated to protecting the rich from the poor, and horrendously unrepresenative to boot. Why make it worse by empowering even fewer representatives of the rich to block the will of the majority?

  24. 24
    Elizabelle says:

    @amk:

    Oh come on.

    The public — which includes my loved ones, and yours — is always worth saving.

  25. 25

    Ben Smith has left Politico to be in charge of BuzzFeed.

    I don’t read Politico but wasn’t Smith the only liberal? Or am I mistaken?

  26. 26
    amk says:

    @Comrade Javamanphil: Thereby proving my point. Of course, their corporate masters may not give day-to-day orders (may be they do, who knows), but the bottom-line menace is dangling above their heads.

  27. 27
    Napoleon says:

    This is exactly what will happen, which is what makes the Democrats even look more ball-less not to do it themselves.

  28. 28
    Snowball says:

    @amk:

    Considering that they overwhelmingly voted for the GOP to take over the house in 2010, I think that train has already passed. This was the same GOP that took us to idiotic war in Iraq, the same GOP that was in charge during the economic collapse, the same GOP that turned surpluses into deficits.

    And if one was to believe intrade, the GOP is a huge favorite to take over Congress and 50-50 to take over the White House. In a democracy the voters get the government it deserves.

  29. 29
    Mino says:

    @Elizabelle: Exactly. Someone might try polling that–how do voters feel about making a fillibuster a fillibuster again. Nothing is getting done anyway, Reid.

    Just think of the media coverage that would engender. Money for the MSM. And folks might becoem aware of a few issues. Jesus wept, the Dems are the worst tacticians in the world.

  30. 30
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Guster: Reread my entire comment. In a rational time, the Republicans would be punished for not showing restraint. The fact that this is not happening is one of the problems. I believe this boils down to the people getting exactly the government they voted for.

  31. 31
    amk says:

    Can this nullification process be challenged in courts on criminal grounds (violation of oath) ?

  32. 32
    Ronbo says:

    Ask yourself, which is more cat-like, a pitbull or poodle?
    Ask yourself, which is more like a Democrat, Obama or Gingrich?

    A dog is NOT a cat and Obama is a Republican (just less offensive than Gingrich)

  33. 33
    Josie says:

    Here is another interesting post on recess appointments.

    http://www.tnr.com/article/pol.....ay-senate#

  34. 34
    Bror says:

    No, I would be very surprised if they removed the filibuster. People are often missing the question of *why* senators are voting the way they do. It’s not for ideological reasons or a technocratic opinion in which bill works best, but mainly self interest. The filibuster makes more senators having the critical vote, which is where the money and power is. Right now, it’s more beneficial or even necessary to vote with the party for republicans to survive politically. A republican majority changes this dynamics dramatically.

  35. 35
    Elizabelle says:

    Nullification could go on OWS’s list, too.

    It’s another way the plutocrats and their allies who don’t represent their human constituents game the system.

    This past year has made clear as day that most congresscritters do not represent their voters.

    You’ve got that awareness out there to build upon.

  36. 36
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @amk: I doubt it. This is really entirely about the senate’s rules, and the constitution allows each house to make up its own rules.

  37. 37
    geg6 says:

    Well, of course. We all lived through that very same scenario, not all that long ago.

    Upperdownvote! Words that they will scream, loudly and constantly.

    I’m so sick of these fuckers. Nullification is exactly their plan. And I think I’m getting a glimmer as to what it was like for many people here in the North during the run up to the Civil War. It’s a mixture of dread, horror, and disgust with a side order of helplessness. I really don’t know if this country will survive these traitorous fuckwads.

  38. 38
    rikyrah says:

    thanks for this hat tip. good article by Fallows

  39. 39
    amk says:

    @Ronbo:

    Ask yourself, which is more like a moron, a firebagger or a teabagger ?

  40. 40
    Barry says:

    @The Tragically Flip: Seconding this. The Senate Dems won’t filibuster at even half the rate of the GOP Senators, and will back down the minute the GOP Senate blusters at them.

  41. 41
    amk says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): No, I’m not talking about filibuster rule.I refer the nullification where the senate blocks the law they themselves passed.

  42. 42
  43. 43
    mistermix says:

    @Minnesota Dave: You’re right – without the Presidency, abolishing the filibuster isn’t a 100% win. But they can use a House majority and Senate majority to ram through tons of very conservative legislation that Obama can veto. But at some point he’ll have to compromise to get, e.g., a budget passed, so it has some power even without the Presidency.

  44. 44
    Elizabelle says:

    @geg6:

    I think I’m getting a glimmer as to what it was like for many people here in the North during the run up to the Civil War. It’s a mixture of dread, horror, and disgust with a side order of helplessness. I really don’t know if this country will survive these traitorous fuckwads.

    That’s what I feel like too.

    Reading up on good Germans, as well.

    It’s the same process, I would think.

    EDIT: Key is, the majority (as in voters) have to lose the helplessness. It’s what the radical minority depends upon.

  45. 45
    El Tiburon says:

    Not so fast. Exactly what major issues did the republicans lose last go around? They got their rightwing judges thanks to the Gang of Eight. They got their wars thanks to the Democrats. They got their massive tax cuts for the rich. The only thing they didn’t get (because they really didn’t want it) was social security privatization.

    No, they will need the deems to have the filibuster and allow them to use it on irrelevant issues so that they can demonize them. If they make the democrats too weak, then they have no boogey man to sell tomtheir base.

  46. 46
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @amk: I understand, but I think any court will rule that the Constitution states that what happens in the senate stays in the senate.

  47. 47
    El Tiburon says:

    @Minnesota Dave:
    I think many of us thought it was the endof the Republican party after eight years of Bush. But it would certainly be interesting times to live through a darker period than that. But the blowback to Bush was so severenand strong that the entire world rejoiced when Obama won.

    Whoops…

  48. 48
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    @amk:

    Doing away with filibuster – doesn’t that require 60 votes ?

    Only if you’re a Democrat… it’s all in the fine print… like the statement you get from your credit card company…

  49. 49
    sherparick says:

    If the Republicans regain the Senate and White House and retain the House, yes, they will abolish the filibuster, and they will do so based on the assumption that they will never be the “minority” party in the Senate again. I expect they then will enact voting suppression and restriction laws with the goal of making sure their hold on power will become permanent. (For instance, renderning people who are bankrupt inelgible to vote, double photo ID requirements, and substantial fees for IDs.)

    The collapse of the Democratic Party in the south in the last 17 years, marks the end of the “2d reconstruction,” like the similar collapse of the Republican Party in the South in the 1870s and 80s marked the end of the first. Basically, outside of perhaps Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida, the Republicans have locks on all the Senate seats from in the Ol’South and from Oklahoma to a Canadian border in the plains, along with Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho. Basically, they have a lock on 37 of 38 seats, not counting Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and hence why we can’t be to anxious to throw ol’Ben under the bus for his right-wing votes. He is certainly better from a liberal viewpoint than any Republican who would replace him.

    Paul Krugman’s column on Europe, and the depressing rise of right-wing parties. Particularly, the collapse of democracy in Hungary under a “center-right” party may be the model of what the Republicans may well impose on the U.S. following 2012.

    Why the Democrats have lost so much in the South, the plains, and the mountain West has much to do with fact that neo-liberal Demcorats, who become lobbiests to make small fortunes, have thrown the working class, white, Brown, and Black under the bus. That class has then splintered over cultural issues and the fight over a declinning economic pie. The weakening of unions, with the decline of manufacturing and mining particularly wrecked the Democratic Party in the Mountain West and Appalachia.

  50. 50
    ellennelle says:

    @geg6:

    if you check out the link i offer (at 20), you’ll see that, despite the fact that the runup to the civil war saw an uptick in speechifying on the senate floor (the first real threat made to defend enactment of the second national bank, ironically enough), but that ultimately, even though the filibuster rule allowed for lengthy speechifying, ultimately the issue could and would be brought before the full senate for a vote after the filibuster was ended by majority vote.

    it’s an interesting chinese finger lock or monkey jar both parties seem to find themselves in.

  51. 51
    Hawes says:

    I would love to see a Court challenge to the filibustering of appointees. If we read ‘advice and consent” literally, I think the failure to even bring the measure to a vote would not qualify. And given that they are holding the nominee hostage explicitly to change established law also begs the constitutional question.

    Original intent beyotch!

  52. 52
    Schlemizel says:

    It is interesting to note the last real filibuster I can remember. from Feb 26 till June 10, 1964 19 Senators held the Senate hostage over the Civil Rights Act.

    Somehow the nation survived that event and I believe we would survive another one today. Its past time for Reid to force the Republicans to prove they are willing to put business on hold while they have their little tantrums.

  53. 53
    Snowball says:

    @Schlemizel:

    It is a different media environment today compared to in 1964. Today you have FoxNews which has daily right wing talking points that they repeat 24/7. More often than not these talking points are then picked up by the MSM.

    Chances are pretty good that after a few weeks of filibustering, FoxNews would have enabled the rest of the media to go after and criticize Reid and the rest of the Dems.

  54. 54
    Aaron Baker says:

    Since, in the long (and short) term, the filibuster has mostly been used to further reactionary policies, I’d be overjoyed if the Republicans abolished it.

    (Not to mention that if one supports majority rule, one should support it even if a majority one doesn’t like is in power.)

  55. 55
    Chris says:

    @sherparick:

    That’s the most depressing Paul Krugman article I remember reading, which is really saying something. I remember reading about Jobbik when it was first elected, but didn’t know it had a paramilitary arm, or that it was that hardcore into democracy suppression. UGH.

    Gotta love the antisemitism and antiziganism, too. If this were the West, they’d at least have the good grace to upgrade their prejudices and go after Muslims and other immigrants. But this is Jobbik, and it’s Jews and Gypsies just like old times.

  56. 56
    OzoneR says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I guess Harry Reid doesn’t make them actually filibuster so as to preserve some time for business?

    Also because he can’t “make” them filibuster

  57. 57
    OzoneR says:

    @sherparick:

    Why the Democrats have lost so much in the South, the plains, and the mountain West has much to do with fact that neo-liberal Demcorats, who become lobbiests to make small fortunes, have thrown the working class, white, Brown, and Black under the bus.

    Which would explain why they the south voted for Barry Goldwater over Lyndon Johnson?

  58. 58
    dogwood says:

    @Ronbo:
    Here’s a book suggestion for your Christmas wish list – Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. I’m more than willing to admit I’m a mediocre writer at best, but I’m pretty sure I don’t need a remedial reading course. That was unintelligible.

  59. 59

    […] Juice’s mistermix agrees: I think this is exactly right. The minute there are 51 Republicans in the Senate, we’re going […]

  60. 60
    OzoneR says:

    @Snowball:

    Chances are pretty good that after a few weeks of filibustering, FoxNews would have enabled the rest of the media to go after and criticize Reid and the rest of the Dems.

    This has already happened. We’d here the “more gridlock in Washington, both sides do it” bullshit.

  61. 61
    Snowball says:

    @OzoneR:

    Amen. Which is why the argument of the public automatically backing a real filibuster is not reality. The media with their idiotic “both sides do it” garbage would most likely claim that it is the Dems which are holding up the Nation’s business.

  62. 62
    bob h says:

    Why not provoke the constitutional question by declaring such nullification to be illegal, and declare Cordry the appointed director? The five republicans on the Supreme Court presumably would in time ride to the rescue of McConnell, but the argument would have been well worth having.

  63. 63
    Chris says:

    @OzoneR:

    Which would explain why they the south voted for Barry Goldwater over Lyndon Johnson?

    Thank you.

  64. 64
    Roc says:

    It would make no sense for the Republicans to abolish it. If the Dems don’t actually *use* the filibuster as the Republicans have, the right has nothing to fear.
    Sure, they’ll spam the media with “up or down vote!” to shame the left, adding further incentive for them to not use the filibuster as the Republicans have.

    But until the left is ready to sink America for political gain, the right has no incentive to fix these loopholes. Similarly with the debt ceiling.

  65. 65
    amk says:

    @bob h: egg.sack.lee. It’s worth litigating.

  66. 66
    Judas Escargot says:

    @sherparick:

    If the Republicans regain the Senate and White House and retain the House, yes, they will abolish the filibuster, and they will do so based on the assumption that they will never be the “minority” party in the Senate again. I expect they then will enact voting suppression and restriction laws with the goal of making sure their hold on power will become permanent.

    This. All of it.

    If the GOP takes both House and Senate, it will be their proverbial ‘last chance’ to secure their place at the trough before demographic and cultural trends render them irrelevant. The GOP is a wounded animal: It will, IMO, do anything to survive at this point.

    We’ve all seen how the GOP has gone ‘all in’ with the crazy since 2006 or so… not sure why anyone thinks that trend would abruptly stop if they do well next year.

  67. 67
    Lol says:

    Is this the thread where it has to be explained once again how the filibuster actually works to exasperated liberals. Only a few posts in and I was already able to mark off my “make them filibuster” box for Obama Is A Sellout Bingo.

  68. 68
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ronbo:

    Ask yourself, which is more like a Democrat, Obama or Gingrich?

    Given that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was filibustered by 18 Democrats and only 1 Republican, you’re right — Newt is a traditional (Southern) Democrat and Obama is a traditional (Northern) Republican. But I’m not sure why you’re so nostalgic for those traditional Democrats like Newt who opposed letting African-Americans have civil rights.

  69. 69
    dogwood says:

    I disagree that Republicans won’t end the filibuster if they take the Senate and not the White House. They’d love to force Obama to veto as much as possible. It will set them up beautifully for 2016. Voters might not know what a filibuster is, but they know what a veto is.

  70. 70
    Special Patrol Group says:

    @OzoneR:

    Which would explain why they the south voted for Barry Goldwater over Lyndon Johnson?

    The South was still largely Democrat territory in 1964, as the great migration to the Republican side (e.g., “Reagan Democrats”*) had only just begun. Yes, these are party labels and a simplistic way of viewing a more complex situation, but I bet the party labels (along with a history of New Deal programs to help the lower and middle classes) accounted for the Johnson victory as much as other factors (Goldwater was a tad extreme, Kennedy hangover, and what have you).

    *racist white people upset about Strapping Young Bucks buying t-bone steaks with food stamps and eating them in the back of a Welfare Queen’s Cadillac.

  71. 71
    Anya says:

    @Ronbo: This idiocy is what brought us the teabagger-dominated Republicans who now control the U.S. House of Representatives and State Legislatures.

    Getting back to the topic of this post, nullification and filibuster abuse should be a campaign issue in Senate seats that matter, like Maine and Massachusetts. The voters should know about Olympia Snowe and Scott Brown’s record of obstructionism. Why can’t the Dems have a viable candidate in Maine? Snowe’s voting record is as right wing as Senators from Alabama.

  72. 72
    PIGL says:

    This will end when some President under pretext of some crisis sends in a company of special forces to arrest, try and execute the offending senators. I see no other future for your country.

  73. 73
    Special Patrol Group says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Given that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was filibustered by 18 Democrats and only 1 Republican, you’re right—Newt is a traditional (Southern) Democrat and Obama is a traditional (Northern) Republican. But I’m not sure why you’re so nostalgic for those traditional Democrats like Newt who opposed letting African-Americans have civil rights.

    Mm-hm. But then, Newt is very much a modern Republican and Obama very much a modern Democrat. Go figure.

  74. 74
    timb says:

    The Republicans are the only party dumb enough to abolish the filibuster.

    Stan: And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now.

    Francis: Yes, they [the Romans] certainly know how to keep order … (general nodding) … let’s face it, they’re the only ones who could in a place like this. (more general murmurs of agreement)

    They broke Washington and they will fix it and, when they lose the next elections, the country will be better off for a Party too stupid to know they are the minority party

  75. 75
    dogwood says:

    @Special Patrol Group:

    If I remember correctly around 6 “Solid South” confederate states voted for Goldwater in ’64. That was the beginning of the Southern realignment. Complete realignment doesn’t happen in one election. Nixon and the Southern Strategy helped speed up the process over the next decade.

  76. 76
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Special Patrol Group:

    Mm-hm. But then, Newt is very much a modern Republican and Obama very much a modern Democrat. Go figure.

    Oh, I don’t disagree. I’m just pointing out the dishonesty in claiming that Obama is just like a Republican of 40 years ago without mentioning that Newt is just like a Democrat of 40 years ago. Jesse Helms was a Democrat until 1972, fer chrissakes.

  77. 77
    Donut says:

    Agreed with others pointing out that the only way a potential GOP Senate majority does away with the filibuster is if they have a GOP prez.

    These guys play long ball. They won’t give up this power for future minority caucuses unless and until they really see it as necessary.

    I do wish Democrats had abolished the rule last year, but until we have Obama safely ensconced in the White House again, I don’t want to see anything done with it. Timing is everything with making a change of this significance.

  78. 78
    Tone in DC says:

    Josie – December 12, 2011 | 9:20 am · Link

    Here is another interesting post on recess appointments.
    http://www.tnr.com/article/pol.....ay-senate#

    Thanks for this. I hope BHO emulates Teddy this month. There is no way this shit should have gone on this long.

  79. 79
    Brachiator says:

    I think this is exactly right. The minute there are 51 Republicans in the Senate, we’re going to hear howls of “straight up or down vote”. They’ll be aided and abetted by the DC media, who will inform us that the filibuster is a relic of bygone days that has been abused by both sides, it’s high time that it was eliminated, it really is a scandal that it has persisted so long, and the nation is lucky that Republicans are patriotic enough to foster a reform that’s long overdue.

    The Republicans have been remarkably consistent in their actions since the election of Bill Clinton. Their position is that the Democrats do not have a right to govern, and must either back GOP positions or be blocked.

    And since Obama’s election, the GOP has consistently been successful in three areas: holding the line on tax increases, blocking meaningful regulatory reform, and blocking Obama appointees.

    Whether a GOP majority would keep or kill the filibuster is mere tactics. The strategy will be the same no matter what.

  80. 80
    The Tragically Flip says:

    I’ll repeat, they won’t “do away” with the filibuster – they’ll find or invent a pedantic and implausible piece of legal sophistry to use so that they can end any particular Democratic filibuster they really want to end, but still leave the rules in place so that if they’re in the minority, they can still filibuster and the next Dem Majority leader can do nothing about it, because he or she won’t have 51 Democrats willing to use the nuclear option.

    I’m not theorizing here, this is exactly what happened in the Nuclear option fracas: GOP wanted some Nazgul level evil candidates confirmed to the Judiciary, Dems were blocking, so they invented a legal distinction between judicial and legislative filibusters, and were prepared to end the former, but not the latter, and didn’t do so because the “Gang of 14” saved the day by caving in on the Democratic filibuster in exchange for nothing. Then, once Democrats even had 60 seats, Reid did not have 51 Democratic senators prepared to do the same thing to the GOP when they filibustered everything and everyone.

  81. 81
    dogwood says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    Special Patrol may not have read the train wreck of a post you were referencing. I don’t know if the Ronbo’s attempt to create some sort of syllogism was dishonest, but it certainly was incoherent,

  82. 82
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    The Republicans have been remarkably consistent in their actions since the election of Bill Clinton.

    I don’t think you know just howaccurate, that statement is.

  83. 83
    Barry says:

    @Mnemosyne: “Given that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was filibustered by 18 Democrats and only 1 Republican, you’re right—Newt is a traditional (Southern) Democrat and Obama is a traditional (Northern) Republican. But I’m not sure why you’re so nostalgic for those traditional Democrats like Newt who opposed letting African-Americans have civil rights.”

    I’m sorry, but you fail the question ‘Do you have the slightest of the political changes in post-WWII US national politics?’

  84. 84
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Barry:

    I’m sorry, but you fail the question ‘Do you have the slightest of the political changes in post-WWII US national politics?’

    Yes, because when I point out that, if Obama is just like a Republican of 40 years ago, that also means that Newt is just like a Democrat of 40 years ago, that means I’m ignorant of the changes in both parties in the past 40 years. Good one.

  85. 85
    dogwood says:

    @Barry:

    I’m sorry, but it’s the poster she’s responding to who fails the question. She’s just throwing some of his own inanity back at him.

  86. 86
    danimal says:

    One of Fallows commenters suggested a constitutional amendment changing the Senate’s “advice and consent” power from an approval of presidential nominees before they start their jobs to a system in which the Senate can reject presidential nominations after they are appointed to their jobs. The default would be that the president gets to choose his/her team and the Senate only challenges objectionable appointees. A minority of Senators would not be able to stop appointments from serving. This makes sense.

    Getting behind a constitutional amendment would be a positive step: shining a spotlight on the games being played by the GOP while presenting a sober, moderate tweak to the Washington rules would be good policy and good politics. As the GOP has demonstrated, proposing constitutional amendments can drive debate even if they don’t pass. I don’t see the downside.

  87. 87
    xian says:

    @Mnemosyne: but it wasn’t being that subtle (the troll), it was saying he is like a Republican of today, in that he doesn’t fart ponies.

  88. 88
    shortstop says:

    Dumb troll derails entire thread with the eager participation of many.

  89. 89
    Shalimar says:

    @Ronbo: They’re all out to get you. You need a protective bunker to hide in.

  90. 90
    Brachiator says:

    @danimal:

    One of Fallows commenters suggested a constitutional amendment changing the Senate’s “advice and consent” power from an approval of presidential nominees before they start their jobs to a system in which the Senate can reject presidential nominations after they are appointed to their jobs. The default would be that the president gets to choose his/her team and the Senate only challenges objectionable appointees.

    I don’t get how rejecting a nominee after they are appointed would be reasonable. It also would seem to be a violation of the principle of separation of powers.

  91. 91
    MomSense says:

    @Anya
    Maine’s 2nd Congressional district is very conservative. Think of Texas but smaller and colder–especially inland. There is a sliver of sanity that runs along the ocean and they vote more like Southern Maine.

    Sen. Snowe has two primary challengers because she is not far enough right for the current crop of Republicans.

  92. 92
    NR says:

    I believe what will happen will in some ways be worse, at least in the short term, if perhaps sadly better in the long term: if the GOP retakes the Senate after the 2012 elections, they’ll simply abolish the filibuster.

    Come on. You’re talking like the filibuster is just a simple Senate rule that can be changed at any time. All throughout 2009 and 2010 everyone here was saying that it was an all-powerful, magical force that could not ever be overcome which forced a 60 vote requirement on all legislation. Those people couldn’t have all been wrong, so clearly you need to get with the program.

  93. 93
    AxelFoley says:

    @Ronbo:

    A dog is NOT a cat and Obama is a Republican (just less offensive than Gingrich)

    What a dumbass post.

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