Thursday, November 13, 2008

Filibuster buster

The exciting news this morning is that Democrat Mark Begich now has an 814-vote lead over Republican Ted Stevens in the Alaska Senate race after trailing by more than 3,000 votes on election day.
Combined with the hope that Democrat Al Franken could overtake Republican Norm Coleman following a recount of the Minnesota Senate race, that would give Democrats the eight-seat pickup that I had predicted. That would then mean that with the support of Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont, they would be just one-vote away from the fillibuster-proof 60-vote margin they have been craving.
This might explain why the Democratic caucus is suddenly so willing to kiss up to Joe “Benedict Arnold” Lieberman and let bygones be bygones. This might be more important that it seems.
I remember how frustrated I felt in the early 90s after Bill Clinton was elected following 12-years of Republican domination of the executive branch - and yet despite having a Democratic majority in the House and Senate he was unable to get much of his legislative agenda passed because the Republicans still had just enough votes to filibuster.
It is a trend that continues today and could hamper early efforts by the Obama administration to fix the huge problems left by the Bushies.
But could Democrats depend on Lieberman in the stretch? Would owing his chairmanship to Obama’s good graces make Lieberman a more reliable vote to override filibusters?
Anyway, it is certainly nice knowing that Sarah Palin is less likely to be taking up residence in Washington now.


Oops. I think I miscounted. It looks like even with Begich and Franken in the Senate, Democrats would still be one short of the Magic 60 even counting Sanders and Lieberman. Therefore the runoff election in Georgia between the abhorrent Saxby Chamblis and the noble Jim Martin would be all-important. And I am much less inclined to believe that Democrats can pull off a victory in that contest than in Alaska or Minnesota. Darn.
Nevertheless, I think the finagling over Lieberman still makes sense because of the liklihood that a moderate Republican like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins or Arlen Specter could close the gap on a critical filibuster.

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