I got angry at President Obama when I found out that Scott Brown had won the MA Senate race, but not because Scott Brown had won the MA Senate race. I was away for most of the campaign, but by all accounts Martha Coakley and Scott Brown lost and won that race, respectively, all on their own. But I was nevertheless annoyed at Obama, because he didn’t find a way to get us this damn health care bill in a year with 60 senators. And all of a sudden we didn’t have 60 senators anymore, and the window was at least a little bit smaller, and we didn’t have anything to show for it.
I have since tempered, though – and of course Barack knew I would – for a couple of reasons, two of which I submit here.
One, I like the new tone. I liked it when he called out the GOP a bit in the State of the Union, and I liked it more when I watched this today: Obama taking it to the House GOP caucus on their turf. It won’t work – he’s not going to get Republican votes in the house for jack – but I just can’t believe that we’ve allowed 60 to become the new 50 without making the Republicans pay any political price. The last time the Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate was 1979, and though I suspect that no one thought that enough Americans were stupid enough in 1979 to ask this question, so there are no data for historical comparison, what if we polled “How many votes does it take to pass legislation out of the United States Senate?” Gut check – what percentage of Americans today would say that the answer is 60? No, if this is the way things are going to go, then Obama should spread a bunch of quicksand on the floor of the Senate, and then make those 41 Senators stand in it until they get out or get sucked all the way in.
Second, the fact that we are not there on health care and nowhere on climate (and oh boy, are we nowhere on climate) is really, it’s important to remember, the opposition’s talking point. In fact, a lot has happened this year, and it was nice to get a reminder from Friend-of-The-Pickle Parisa that the Obama administration is still turning the ship of state in a wide arc. Witness this tidbit about the game face that the Civil Rights Division at DOJ has on.