Monday, February 1, 2010

Barack Obama Is Off Message

The President:

We had this enormous opportunity, but the way the rules work in the United States Senate, you’ve got to have 60 votes for everything. After the special election in Massachusetts, we now only have 59. We are calling on our Republican colleagues to get behind a serious health reform bill, one that actually provides not only the insurance reforms for people who do have health insurance but also the coverage for folks who don’t. My hope is, is that they accept that invitation and that they work with us together over the next several weeks to get it done.

No no no no no. You don't have to have 60 votes for everything in the United States Senate. Republicans have demanded 60 votes for everything. There's nothing preventing Mitch McConnell from saying "I oppose health care reform, but I'm willing to let it pass and then blame Democrats for every one of its million teeny tiny failings". Nor is there anything preventing Olympia Snowe from doing the same thing. Or Judd Gregg, or Jim DeMint.

The first stem is admitting you have a problem. The 60-vote threshold is both a rule and a norm. If we're going to attack the rule, we can't just accept the norm and ask Republicans to work within it.


karlG said...

Right you are -- but busting the "60-vote myth" would emphasize the Democrats' inability to take advantage of their historically large Senate majority. Accepting the 60-vote myth embraces victimhood and makes the Democrats' impotence slightly less embarrassing.

corvus said...

Like I said in the comments two post down from this, I think this is just Obama doing political cover, playing Good Cop.

Besides that, there is really no way to change the rules in the middle of the congress, and even at the beginning of the next set of rules making, they might not actually have the votes to remove the filibuster, since that, along with holds, are the major source of power held by Senators. So he might as well treat that as political reality so as to paint Republicans as douchebags (especially if he can find a way to do it while looking conciliatory, natch), at least until such time there as there is popular will aimed at getting senators to remove the filibuster, which will never fucking happen, because our Village Gatekeepers will never explain it.

karlG said...

A follow-up When Obama mentions the necessity for 60 votes, the greater the responsibility of the Republicans becomes; this could turn out to be a clever ruse -- majority Democrats running against a Republican "do-nothing" minority.