The famous definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over -- and expecting a different result. What Senator Harry Reid did with his idea of filibuster reform fits that definition.
The filibuster (in case you didn't know) is a process that was implemented by leadership who wanted majority rules, but also wanted the minority to have their objections to policies or legislation acknowledged. It was used a few times in attempting to block civil rights legislation back in 1957 by one cracka senator named Strom Thurmond. Dude was so angry about "them Nigras agitating for their Civil Rights" that he set a record for holding the longest filibuster. He yakked for over 24 hours without stopping.
But I digress.
Here we are in the second week of President Obama's second term and right on schedule, the Senate Majority Leader proceeds to fling the President's second-term agenda under the bus with this stunt, virtually guaranteeing nothing will get done for at least two years. (For this, he also got raked over the coals by Rachel Maddow.) From the Huffington Post:
The deal will address the filibuster on the motion to proceed by changing the amount of debate time that would follow a cloture vote from 30 hours to four, speeding up Senate business and allowing more legislation to reach the floor. But the deal still requires Democrats to muster 60 votes to invoke cloture on that motion, despite Reid's earlier suggestion that he would bar a filibuster on that motion entirely.
Maddow was unenthused about the deal. She replayed comments Reid made about the specific changes needed for filibuster reform, contrasted with the results.
"The problem in the Senate has been that they are not able to get anything done. The improvement on that today is that now, they're not going to be able to get anything done faster." She added, "Nobody was talking about taking the filibuster away completely. The idea was to make it something that hurt a little. That actually required some commitment ... It will still be a routine 60-vote supermajority for everything, and this is now it for two years."
It is insane for Reid to keep complaining about the Republicans when he keeps enabling them by pulling sh*t like this. And especially when you laid out the path to the ReThugs to take back the Senate in 2014, 'cause we're getting tired of turning out to vote, giving you our hard-earned money, and then get spit in the face as a "Thank You" for our efforts to get your ass re-elected.
Just like a person who wishes their family member would quit drinking, then tears into the family member who came home with AA literature and a list of meetings to give to the alcoholic. That means the person complaining about the alcoholic family member does not really want him/her to stop drinking - they want to have a conduit for excuses when they get called out for abdicating their own responsibilities. Harry Reid just did the exact same thing when he wimped out to McConnell on the filibuster deal. Reid just told Americans that he doesn't want to actually lead the Senate on anything - yet he tore a strip off his fellow junior Senator, Jeff Merkley, for actually daring to tell the truth about what really happened, while McConnell and Boehner take to the air waves to brag about how they beat the Democrats...AGAIN.
I know this dynamic from my own childhood with one alcoholic parent -- and another one who enabled him. It was easier for my mother to complain about my father's drinking and blame everything on him than to allow her eight-year-old daughter (me) to bring home AA literature for my dad to read in the hopes he might start start going to meetings and stop drinking. If that had happened, with a sober person in the house, my mom would have had no more excuses for why things weren't working in our house.
Same thing here. Boehner, McConnell and their ilk are perfectly comfortable with disregarding what the majority of the American people want because they know they can count on Harry Reid to disregard what the President wanted him to do in the Senate, even after all the time, effort and money spent to ensure the Democrats would keep one chamber of Congress. Reid doesn't want to be held accountable, and wants ready excuses when Americans wise up and start calling him out. I, for one, if given the opportunity, will ask Reid if making the filibuster changes he promised might have stopped this bottleneck -- and stand back to see what he says.
It's my job as a blogger to ask questions like that, you know. You have to throw their words right back in their faces. No sweeping under the rug. If the President gets nothing done in his second term, we can look for the reason right at Harry Reid's door.
The Political Junkie is a longtime blogger and political activist who grew up in Oakland, California and currently resides in metro Washington, DC. She is also pursuing graduate study in Public Policy and Administration in the hopes of becoming either a policy analyst or all-around agitator for progressive causes.