Filibuster: Hate To Say It But We Told You So

Many of us fought hard to reform the filibuster and fight the Republican obstruction that is blocking everything the country needs to get done. And I do mean everything. We said please just “make them talk,” which is what the public already thinks the filibuster is anyway. But they reached a “gentleman’s agreement” instead. Those Republican “gentlemen” just filibustered a Defense Secretary nomination — the first such filibuster in history. We told you so.

Filibuster Reform Blocked

For months a coalition of labor and progressive-aligned organizations worked to build support for reforming the filibuster. The hope was that the Senate would change its rules and return the filibuster to the form that the public understands: “Make them talk.” This preserves the ability of the minority to delay bills long enough to rally public support (or not) when they feel that the rights of the minority are being smothered.

At the last minute Harry Reid blocked the reform effort, reaching a “gentleman’s agreement” with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Reid explained,

“I’m not personally, at this stage, ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold,” Reid said in an interview Thursday with The Washington Post’s Wonkblog.

Chris Cillizza, writing in the Washington Post in Why filibuster reform didn’t happen explained,

The news of an agreement that skirts around the edge of reforming Senate filibusters without actually, you know, reforming the filibuster will disappoint liberal Democrats and leave old Senate hands saying “I told you so.”

Hagel Filibustered

President Obama nominated former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be the Secretary of Defense. This week Republicans filibustered and blocked the nomination. This is the first-ever filibuster of a Defense Secretary nominee.

What else is there to say, except, “We told you so.”

Bloggers Right

It seems like the marginalized left, non-serious people, “fringe,” bloggers, “dirty f***ing hippies,” are right a lot more often than they are wrong. And they are certainly right a lot more often than the DC-elite, “centrist” (i.e. “corporate”) pundits and politicians with their right-wing-think-tank-generated conventional wisdom. Let me count the ways: The Iraq War, austerity, the housing bubble, the Iraq war, the Iraq war … and now the filibuster. (Don’t forget the Iraq War.) (Hey, did anyone ever explain just why we really invaded Iraq?)

Remember Howard Dean in 2003 saying he represents “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,”

What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President’s unilateral intervention in Iraq?

What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting tax cuts, which have bankrupted this country and given us the largest deficit in the history of the United States?

… What I want to know is why the Democrats in Congress aren’t standing up for us, joining every other industrialized country on the face of the Earth in providing health insurance for every man, woman and child in America.

Howard Dean’s speech inspired a generation of bloggers. A decade later the elite punditry is still populated by the boring, corporate centrist, always-wrong, mostly-aging same old same old. (And John McCain is still on every “major-media” conventional-wisdom Sunday show.) And most of the bloggers are still struggling, mostly unpaid … and still usually right.

It seems you have to be wrong — really, really wrong — (or worse) — all the time before you can get a job as a DC-elite pundit…

Compromising Principle VS Getting Things Done For We, the People

I started Wednesday’s post Will Obama’s “Bipartisan” Voting Commission Enable More Republican Obstruction? writing, “Uh Oh, President Obama is being bipartisan again. You know what that means: Republican sabotage again enabled.”

In 2000 one side used every tactic in the book and invented new ones … click this link:the “Brooks Brothers riot” of aides flown in from DC … even though they had clearly lost the election, the other side conceded. One side rewards its operatives for criminal behavior, the other side punishes and blackballs a whistleblower who swung an election their way.

One side compromises, Lucy-and-football style, and doesn’t use its legitimate power to deliver the things We, the People need, the other side seizes what it can for the billionaires, always using those compromises to ratchet things up another notch. One side wants to be reasonable, the other side uses that reasonableness to win even more for their constituents.

One side is being nice, always caving, compromising and conceding. The other side uses every smidgen of its power — and more — to advance the interests of its constituency.

The result is always the same: more for the billionaires; We, the People lose out.

See Also

Here are some of the posts I have written about the filibuster:

Statements & Press

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR):

“Merely weeks after the Senate came together in a good-faith effort to fix the Senate’s problems, Senate Republicans are now engaging in the first-ever filibuster of a Secretary of Defense nominee. It is deeply disappointing that even when President Obama nominates a former conservative colleague of the GOP caucus, the minority is abusing the rules and the spirit of ‘advise and consent.’ If our step we took last month is to be successful, extraordinary stunts like today’s filibuster can’t happen.”

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), in the New Mexico Telegram:

“The first filibuster of a Secretary of Defense in history shows the Senate very well may need further rules reform…the proposal by Senators Udall and Merkley would not have prevented this filibuster – they never intended to take away that right to debate. But under their proposal, filibustering a cabinet nominee would have required a sustained effort. If they failed to do so, a majority of the Senate would be able to move forward.”

Greg Sargent, in the Washington Post:

“…if Hagel does go down, it’s hard to imagine anything happening that makes as eloquent a case for Reid and Democrats revisiting filibuster reform than this affair will have done. Remember, the watered down filibuster reform deal Reid agreed to was at least partly premised on the idea that both sides were at least somewhat committed to ending some of the abuses that rendered the Senate dysfunctional during Obama’s first term. We now see that Republicans are making a mockery of that arrangement.”

Leave a comment with more things the bloggers were right about.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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One thought on “Filibuster: Hate To Say It But We Told You So

  1. Quick clarification — I run NM Telegram and that was a quote from Udall’s spokeswoman Marissa Padilla. Udall doesn’t speak in the third-person like that.

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