Beginning to Hope

Ed Kilgore worked at the DNC,  which makes him a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief when it comes to expecting Democrats to do anything to change the status quo in Congress.  So when he starts counting heads for filibuster reform and gets a majority, I begin to think it might happen:

When you go through the list of holdouts, however, the number likely to buck Reid (who has himself reversed his position since the 2011 vote on a very similar Udall/Merkely/Harkin measure) begins to shrink. John Kerry, who has additional reasons to be a team player right now, is “leaning heavily” towards support. Jay Rockefeller says he’d prefer “radical over nothing.” Daniel Inouye’s doubts are only about the “talking filibuster” ban (entirely legitimate doubts, as Jonathan Bernstein keeps pointing out). Diane Feinstein is similarly on board a ban on filibustering motions to proceed. Bill Nelson doesn’t like the “constitutional option,” but says “I’m supporting Harry Reid.” Max Baucus and Jack Reed seem entirely neutral at this point, which makes it unlikely they’d buck Reid and the Caucus and kill reform.

That leaves two Senate Democrats who voted against the 2011 bill and haven’t said anything indicating a change of position: Carl Levin and Mark Pryor. If they and Donnelly wind up being the only holdouts, then Reid would comfortably have the votes without any concessions to bring a Republican or two on board. And you’d figure Levin might be susceptible to some back-home Blue State pressure if push comes to shove.

The Senate is populated by dozens of people who think they should be President, and maybe one or two who actually will, if the cards fall exactly right. The rest express their frustrated will to power by throwing little obstructionist, snot-nosed, red-faced, tear-stained, booger-flinging tantrums that get them on the TV and  in the columns of the DC press corpse. Taking away their power to block a vote whenever their mommy or daddy issues are flaring up was always going to be a tough sell. I hope Kilgore is right, but I’m still not expecting meaningful filibuster reform, even though it’s clearly in the Democrats’ best interests.

43 replies
  1. 1
    wvng says:

    If they ever do it, this will be the time. All fingers crossed.

    I haven’t heard anything about Manchin’s position on this, so maybe he is a yes?

  2. 2
    Marty says:

    The Senate is populated by dozens of people who think they should be President, and maybe one or two who actually will, if the cards fall exactly right.

    The Senate is not a path to the White House. Before Barack Obama, the last senator to become President was JFK.

  3. 3
    DogMom says:

    The Senate is populated by dozens of people who think they should be President, and maybe one or two who actually will, if the cards fall exactly right. The rest express their frustrated will to power by throwing little obstructionist, snot-nosed, red-faced, tear-stained, booger-flinging tantrums that get them on the TV and in the columns of the DC press corpse.

    So spot on!

  4. 4
    mistermix says:

    @Marty: Agreed. I was being generous to the prima donna Presidential wannabees.

  5. 5
    red dog says:

    Hey you forgot footstomping and wattle shaking. If Joe B. has to break a tie vote it would be Gopers calling for impeachment theater.

  6. 6
    the Conster says:

    booger-flinging tantrums


  7. 7
    MattF says:

    The Senate has a, uh, remarkable collection of Republicans– having them all throw a fit more or less simultaneously would be a big win for the good guys.

  8. 8
    c u n d gulag says:

    Whichever parties in the minority, make them get up off their fat wallet’s to filibuster!

  9. 9
    peorgietirebiter says:

    Chris Hayes had a panel on the issue this morning. Watching, it struck me that a couple of the arguments against reform seemed, on the surface at least, to be very reasonable and could make it very difficult. I thought the graphic display of the filibuster’s history before 2008 made the most compelling case for reform and against the inevitable both sides do it b.s.

  10. 10
    hep kitty says:

    Please let’s get this done. Make them “do it on the floor.”

    Why? Because CSPAN, that’s why.

  11. 11
    cmorenc says:

    If the Democrats won’t do Senate filibuster reform, then the Republicans will do it for them the first time biennial elections give the GOP a Senate majority. Recall that within relatively recent history (2005) it was the GOP threatening to change Senate rules by simple majority (aka the “nuclear” option), a confrontation sparked by Democratic senators’ filibuster of confirmation votes on many of George W. Bush’s more extreme judicial nominees. All those purportedly principled “tyranny against the minority” protestations currently being made by McConnel, Graham, et. al. will vanish the first week of the first session if and when they gain a majority as quickly as a light frost on a sunny day with afternoon highs projected near 60F.

  12. 12
    Kirbster says:

    “Leaning heavily” is not enough for me. I guess I’d better call or fax Senator Kerry on Monday and make my opinions known. Would there be any point in contacting my lame duck Senator Scott Brown? He’ll probably spite-vote against any filibuster reform to help secure his permanent wingnut welfare and future appearances on Fox “News”, but it doesn’t cost me anything but a little time to call or fax his office.

  13. 13
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Bernstein is wrong, and his commenters tell him why he is.

    Make these fucking assholes own their obstructionism. No get out of jail free cards for these vile sacks of fascist shit.

    Make it OBVIOUS to everyone, bypassing the vermin of the Village, who is holding up the show.

    Make Gramps McCain suffer for his childish behavior.

  14. 14
    Just Some Fuckhead says:


    (Ya know, now that House seats have been so gerrymandered that it can’t ever go Democratic again. We wouldn’t want democracy to accidentally break out and scare an old white person into an early grave.)

  15. 15
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @Kirbster: Unless I’m wrong (and this has been known to happen), there’s no point contacting Scott Brown because the rule change needs to happen on the first day of the new Congress — meaning that Scott Brown will no longer be a senator. Heh.

  16. 16
    roc says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: This. Making filibusters unavoidable show-stoppers *is the point*. It forces everyone to note what non-controversial otherwise-procedural vote is being held up *by which blowhards*. The press will have literally *nothing else* to talk about. No other, sexier measure to discuss without noting the blowhard and their bullshit trumped-up demand have stopped everything cold.

    You wanna see some confirmation votes? Put them before “fiscal cliff”/tax cut business in a talking-filibusters-only Senate.

  17. 17
    bemused says:

    I really hope this happens. It’s damn well time the grand old obstructionists who have been hiding behind secret holds be forced to ‘splain themselves in public for all to see and hear.

    btw, anyone know of a blog/site that has a handy compilation of the most egregious secret holds that have halted bills? Many/most Republican voters aren’t aware there have been proposed Dem bills such as on veteran issues they actually would have approved of. I don’t know if their heads would explode if they knew it was a Republican legislator cowardly hiding behind a secret hold that stopped a bill they could easily support but even startling them enough into silent shock with that information would be enjoyable.

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Smiling Mortician:

    Elizabeth Warren has made her position on the filibuster quite plain.

    I don’t need to contact Merkley…he is leading the charge, and he and I see eye to eye on this one. It’s a no brainer.

    Watch this guy. He’s going places.

  19. 19
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Agreed on Merkley. I just watched him the other night (on Maddow, I think?) making a very good case for the charge he’s leading.

    I believe both of my senators (Murray and Cantwell) are on board, although I will call both of their offices this week to voice my support for reform.

  20. 20
    Fair Economist says:

    The Senate is indeed full of people who think they should be president, but that’s a reason for all Dems to *support* filibuster reform. Under the current rules, power is exclusively with the least-wingnutty Republicans (not saying much these days). Under a majority rules system, power on any issue falls to the 5th least liberal Democrat, which means the Blue Doggy types as a group since their positions vary. For the real democrats, it’s still good because real power is now with their friends as opposed to their enemies, so they should still want to support it.

    The caucus also benefits since there are a lot of Dems in conservative states up for election this year, mostly Blue Doggy type, and this means the Senate will tweak its debates and bills to benefit them. Under current rules, the least conservative Republicans will control things and its very much in their interest to beat up and embarrass precisely those Dems who will be in tough races.

  21. 21
    Cain says:

    I helped out on the merkley campaign. I am pretty pleased he is doing so well. I have both Wyden and Merkley as my senators. I can’t be any prouder. I think though I should call and give encouragement!

  22. 22
    hitchhiker says:

    I really want to hear the Rs try to take their case to the people.

    The Democrats are trying to stifle minority voices!!!

    No, actually, we’re looking forward to hearing you explain your positions in more detail.

  23. 23
    Felonius Monk says:


    The Senate is not a path to the White House. Before Barack Obama, the last senator to become President was JFK.

    Elected to the presidency while still a senator — yes. But, not the last former senator to be president — don’t forget LBJ.

    Walter Mondale was VP and then ran unsuccessfully for prez. Hubert Humphrey/Ed Muskie, George McGovern. George H.W. Bush was elected VP while a senator and then ran successfully for pres. And this is only recent history.

    So, I think it is a fair statement to say that the US Senate is a path to the Presidency.

  24. 24

    @Felonius Monk: and @Marty:
    And whether or not it is a good path to the Presidency, it’s full of people whose egos think it is.

  25. 25
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: That goes without saying. But, if it wasn’t for ego, nobody would run. I doubt that anyone ever ran for President that didn’t think they were God’s gift to the Republic, except perhaps George Washington or so the history books would have us believe.

  26. 26
    Marty says:

    @Felonius Monk:
    That’s an interesting way to look at the track record. But maybe you have really just proven that the VP is the right path. I would not argue with that assessment.

    What is the track record of sitting senators who run for president? McCain, Kerry, Gore, Dole, McGovern and others — all sad failures. They lost to incumbents, or to state governors. You could make the case that Obama and JFK actually benefited from having had such short tenure in the Senate before running for president.

    Unfortunately the Senate is a great place for rich old men to retire and do nothing. It’s one of the least demanding jobs in national politics, which is why geezers like Jesse Helms are able to keep doing it until they dropped. I worked on Capitol Hill when Fred Thompson was a senator and even then he seemed lazy to me – but perfect for the Senate. But being a state governor is hard work and maybe that makes it better training for a presidential run.

  27. 27
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    I guess no one’s ever happy with what they have, but being Senator? Frustrated ambition? God dayum. I mean, especially if you’re dumb like … well, I won’t name names, but if you’re a moran like *cough* you should be grateful that your shit floated to the top. I know the power presidency has increased tremendously, but at least theoretically-coequal branches y’all.

  28. 28
    FlipYrWhig says:

    The faultline might end up being between Senate Democrats who think of themselves as Democrats foremost vs. those who think of themselves as Senators foremost. Feingold, for instance, believed in the role of the Senate as a body — in part as a check on executive power. There are going to be Senate Democrats who want to cling to their prerogatives. Luckily for the prospects of reform, the oldest hands in the Senate aren’t that old anymore, and the new guard is tired of being unable to get things accomplished. (Think of yourself as Mark Warner, for example. Why would you want to keep this gig? It must be an unbelievably frustrating place for a technocrat.)

  29. 29
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @Marty: Well, actually the last Senator to become President was Nixon. But I know you meant sitting Senator, just being a dick.

  30. 30
    Marty says:

    @Full Metal Wingnut: But of course Nixon was also VP under Eisenhower, so that brings us back to the VP route again.

  31. 31
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @Felonius Monk: Yeah but you’re really distorting the point he was making. The Senate (actually both houses, really) is historically not a good place from which to run for president.

  32. 32

    @Full Metal Wingnut:
    But the original point is that it’s populated by men so full of themselves they think they’re one tiny step from the presidency and the whole nation should bow to their ego. That point remains, regardless of whether the Senate is a reliable stepping stone to the highest position.

  33. 33
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: I wasn’t addressing the original point, I was addressing Marty’s point.

  34. 34
    Carl Nyberg says:

    How many people have been elected to the U.S. Senate?

    How many Presidents were U.S. Senators prior to being elected President?

    How many Presidential candidates who pulled at least 5% of the vote were U.S. Senators?

    It seems like Senators should be reminded of these numbers periodically.

  35. 35
    handsmile says:

    @Felonius Monk:

    One correction to your interestingly counterintuitive comment: George H.W. was not serving as a US senator at the time Ronaldus Maximus selected him to be the 1980 Republican VP nominee. In fact, he never served in the Senate, but was a Texas Congressman for two terms (1967-71). Bush’s last public office, before entering the 1980 presidential contest, was Director of the CIA from 1976-77.

    Your remark re Poppy did not seem quite right to my tattered memory and so I consulted Encyclopedia Wikipedia for clarification:

  36. 36
    Carl Nyberg says:

    @Felonius Monk:

    George H.W. Bush was elected VP while a senator and then ran successfully for pres. And this is only recent history.

    Bush served four years in the U.S. House and then was appointed UN Ambassador. He held a number of positions, but never served in the U.S. Senate.

  37. 37
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Carl Nyberg: His Dad was a senator. That may be where the confusion comes from.

  38. 38
    Ted & Hellen says:

    The subject of this post is just more evidence of how terminally fucked our political system is, and why it is endlessly fascinating to observe the enthusiasm to elect Democrats on this blog, despite their utter cravenness and lack of principle upon arriving in D.C.

  39. 39
    lol says:

    Many of the previous hold outs from 2009 are (or will be) no longer in the Senate to trouble us with obstructionism or traditionalism.

    No more Lieberman.

    No more Byrd.

    No more Feingold.

    No more Lincoln.

    No more Nelson.

  40. 40
    Afferent input says:

    Filibuster reform would be, at most, a 2 day national story. Most americans would respond to such a move with the question, “Who’s Phil A. Buster and why should I care?” It’s a nothing burger that would away with an arcane useless parliamentary procedure that is currently standing in the way of getting anything done. And it gives way too much power to a feckless lunatic minority.

  41. 41
    Ben Franklin says:


  42. 42
    Just Some Fuckhead says:


    I think though I should call and give encouragement!

    Don’t do that. It will only encourage them.

  43. 43
    Humble Lurker says:

    @Ted & Hellen:
    That makes no sense whatsoever.

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