The Democrats’ Filibuster-Proof Majority & Other Wingnut Myths

This is old, old, old but people like Joe Scarborough keep bringing it up (this morning, in fact) so I really want us to quash this myth that President Obama had a filibuster-proof Democratic Congress to work with. Pretty please? Just stop spreading this shit.

Between Norm Coleman’s protracted legal challenge of Al Franken’s win in Minnesota and the death of Ted Kennedy and the summer recess and everything else, the Democrats’ much-ballyhooed filibuster-proof majority barely existed. Or, as Mr. Universe so clearly explained:

Depending upon which metric is used, Democrats had a super majority for roughly six months which includes the seven weeks between Franken’s swearing-in on July 8 to Ted Kennedy’s death on August 25 and the four months and nine days between Paul Kirk’s swearing-in on September 25, 2009 to his replacement by Scott Brown on February 4, 2010. This was just barely enough time to pass the biggest and most difficult health care legislation in generations; an event that would likely never have happened under any other circumstances. This also happened under the onslaught of every procedural obstruction the Republicans could put in its path.

President Obama, against advice from many of his advisors, gambled his political capital on this bill and won. And it was a significant battle in what is sure to be a series of battles to come in order to keep the foothold on this particular beachhead. He put the brief super majority to good use and any argument that he squandered it will need to stand next to the impressive accomplishment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Three weeks after Franken got sworn in, Congress took its summer recess. And then in August Ted Kennedy died. At best President Obama had four months of a Democratic Congress to work with. President Obama had one shot to do something really big and he took it. And I haven’t even mentioned all of the DINOs and Liebermans in the Democratic caucus who seize any opportunity to demand that we pay attention to them, hold their hands, give them whatever little baubles they want to prove how important they are.

So this idea that Obama had two years of a Democratic Congress just waiting around to do his bidding is so wrong. It’s a lie spread by Republicans who want to make it appear that Obama had two years to do whatever he wanted and the Republicans were just poor, helpless little members of Congress, their hands tied and their mouths taped shut, which means everything that’s wrong is Obama’s fault!!

That’s just bullshit. Anyone remember the summer of 2009? What we’ve called the Summer of Crazy? When conservatives unleashed their uninformed, unhinged tin-foil hat masses on the public? That was the summer of birthers and death panels and “town brawls.” FEMA re-education camps and comparing Obama to Hitler! Misspelled signs, courtesy of the American Moran Brigade. All of it a campaign orchestrated by the well-funded right to intimidate the media, control the narrative, and ensure any rational discussion of the real issues would be impossible.

Because when we actually do have a rational discussion of real issues, Republicans lose. When we have fearmongering about non-existent threats and people shouting over one other, then Republicans win. Funny how that works.

It kind of makes me nuts that this stuff keeps getting repeated. We’re not talking ancient history here, people. We’re talking two years ago. It’s not like you can’t Google this shit.


Filed under Congress, filibuster, Media

6 responses to “The Democrats’ Filibuster-Proof Majority & Other Wingnut Myths

  1. Randy

    You couldn’t leave us with a lighthearted Christmas post could you?

    The number one myth in America, wingnut, hex nut, square nut or brazil nut is that most of the voting public looks any farther than the latest sound bite to do the background on issues that you and Mr. Universe do so the rest of us quasi-informed web crawlers can have a clue of what the fk is going on.

    We’re Screwed.

    Merry Christmas.

  2. Mr. Universe

    Hey, thanks for the shout out.
    P.S. I’m a former Nashvegas resident

  3. The Republicans needed 41 votes to filibuster, regardless of how many Democrats were seated. There were no filibusters from January 2009 – February 2010 when Scott Brown was seated.

    • There are never any filibusters on record anymore. There’s no such thing as a real filibuster, there’s just a threat of a filibuster. Republicans use the filibuster on a daily basis, grinding all Senate business to a halt. It’s no longer rare, it’s used even on wildly popular legislation that ends up passing almost unanimously. It’s just not a “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” style filibuster where someone has to read from the Betty Crocker cookbook for hours on end. It takes just one Senator, and they don’t actually have to do anything more than threaten to invoke it. That’s all thanks to modern Senate rules. Which has prompted several people to make suggestions on how to fix it. Here’s one.