Sunday, April 04, 2010


First of all, my gratitude for the guest posts the last few days.

Now, as for Jon Kyl's statement that Republicans may filibuster Obama's next Supreme Court nominee, well, what on earth would stop them? The only thing that might give them pause, I'd say, is -- perhaps -- a Hillary Clinton nomination, and that's only because they spent so much time pretending to like her in 2008 when they thought praising her might hurt Obama's chances in the fall. And I'm not sure even that would be an impediment. Frank Rich thinks Obama has his mojo back, and then some...

NOT since Clark Kent changed in a phone booth has there been an instant image makeover to match Barack Obama's in the aftermath of his health care victory. "He went from Jimmy Carter to F.D.R. in just a fortnight," said one of the "Game Change” authors, Mark Halperin, on MSNBC. "Look at the steam in the man's stride!" exclaimed Chris Matthews. "Is it just me, or does Barack Obama seem different since health care passed?" wrote Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast, which, like The Financial Times, ran an illustration portraying the gangly president as a newly bulked-up Superman.

... but somebody forgot to tell the public, which is giving Obama his lowest ratings ever (44% approval in the newest CBS poll).

The scary thing is that Obama may really feel he has his mojo back. I just want the guy to fight based on accurate assessment of how big the impediments he's facing are, and I fear that he's misjudging where he stands right now. He's not a winner because Republicans have declared that the health care fight isn't over until they say it's over, and I'm looking in vain for empirical evidence that the public has a problem with their decision. (The health care fight would be over if the bulk of the bill kicked in soon, but it doesn't.)

Why is Obama is a winner? Because conventional wisdom says that if you score a huge legislative victory, you're a winner? The Republicans don't care about conventional wisdom. They don't care about the bill passing any more that Iraqi insurgents in 2003 cared about the fall of Saddam.

Modern Republicans never care about conventional wisdom, or conventions of any kind? For some reason I'm reminded of 2004, when it was a mini-scandal that Bill Frist campaign against Tom Daschle, despite the fact that custom had previously dictated that one Senate leader doesn't campaign against another. Robert Byrd was appalled:

"What has become of civility? ... It used to be unheard of for Senate leaders to seek an active role against each other in campaigns," said Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, who has served for more than 45 years and led his party for a dozen of them. "That time has gone," he lamented.

The broad public had no bloody idea that that violated Senate custom. The broad public has no idea now that there's an excessive number of filibusters now. The broad public will have no idea that it's an act of extremism if Republicans filibuster three, four, five Obama Supreme Court nominees in a row. I don't see anything in the polls right now that suggests the public will rally to Obama's defense if Republicans control the terms of debate and declare one nominee after another to be a dangerous lefty who's beyond the pale.

I'll be shocked if there's no filibuster.

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