Should I really be happy that Thad Cochran narrowly defeated his teabagger challenger, Chris McDaniel, in the GOP Senate runoff in Misissippi yesterday, with the help of Democratic crossover voters?
Yes, McDaniel is a bomb-thrower who promised to stand with fellow bomb-throwers such as Ted Cruz who are already in the Senate. But Cochran is part of an actually existing Congress that's been stymieing the agenda of a duly elected president for six years. Cochran is part of the superminority that's turned the filibuster into an everyday weapon of partisanship, thus destroying majority rule in the Senate. As Jonathan Bernstein says,
The correct count of how many bills have been filibustered during Obama's presidency is: approximately all of them.That's what crossover Democrats voted for. What did they vote against? Um ... another vote to block funding for the Export-Import Bank? That's it?
That's what it means to have a 60-vote Senate, which is what Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republicans declared as soon as Obama was elected. Almost every measure and, until Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democrats invoked the nuclear option last fall, almost every nomination, had to have 60 or more votes to pass. That's a filibuster.
... as long as the minority party insists on a 60-vote Senate, the correct answer for the number of filibusters is every measure to which the 60-vote threshold applies.
I know that's not it. I know that, as a senator, McDaniel would have voted to put the full faith and credit of America at risk by opposing a debt ceiling increase. I know he'd have sought to eviscerate the social safety net even more than the typical Republican. I know he would have been a vote to convict if the House impeaches President Obama (but won't all Republicans vote to convict?). I know he'd have pursued show trials like Darrell Issa and obstructionism like Ted Cruz.
But I also know he's a loose-tongued bigot who, between now and November, had the potential to be this year's Todd Akin. Even if Democrat Travis Childers couldn't have beaten McDaniel in Mississippi -- though one early poll said the race would have been close -- McDaniel could have been a liability to the GOP in other races. Why should Democrats have saved the GOP from him?
And maybe Cochran will keep federal cash flowing to Mississippi, but why should Democrats and progressives elsewhere in America be happy about that? Mississippi is the #1 "taker" state in America, getting $3.07 for every dollar it pays in federal income taxes -- and yet it's full of voters who think blue states and Democratic voters are the real parasites. The preservation of that status quo is supposed to make me feel good?
Cochran's win helps quell talk of a newly resurgent tea party and returns us to a state of affairs in which political insiders can prattle on again about how nice and reasonable and cuddly the GOP is and how Democrats could get things done via compromise with the GOP if they'd only lead harder. Ron Fournier must be in heaven.
Not me. Chris McDaniel was a Frankenstein monster Republicans created. They should have had to own him.