Saturday, February 13, 2010

Barack Obama, The US Senate, LBJ, and Gratuitous Promotion of Family Members

My twin has a piece up at the Huffington Post arguing that Obama should take a lessons from Lyndon Johnson in how to work with the Senate. The central thesis is that Obama needs to take four lessons from Johnson. I'm not convinced that Aaron is completely correct here. I found his earlier piece arguing that the Democrats should force the Republicans to engage in genuine filibusters to be more persuasive. Both pieces are worth reading. At this point, it seems apparent that many Republican senators have zero interest in actually running a government and are genuinely trying to just be as obstructionist as possible. Richard Shelby's attempt to put a hold on every single Obama nominee seems to be the logical conclusion of the current Republican behavior. Both of Aaron's pieces are worth reading, but at this point, I suspect that Obama's best course of action at this point may be to try to get the public to understand how little cooperation he is getting from both House and Senate Republicans.


Anonymous said...

Regarding the filibuster, over at Obsidian Wings, hilzoy has pointed out that the previous version of the filibuster, while not as broken as the current one, was still pretty bad - the party doing the filibustering just needed to keep one person on hand the whole time, but the party being filibustered needed everyone there. So just reverting is not really a fix.

Aaron Zelinsky said...

I'm not sure the public will take being informed of the obstructionism to heart. It didn't seem to work in California, although it did work relatively well for Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

Harry: Yes, the quorum call would make things a bit more difficult, but I think would still be doable if the dems got serious, particularly if they started by bringing up some of the many relatively non-controversial executive branch nominees who are being held for no good reason.

Aaron Zelinsky said...

And by "California" I mean Massachusetts. Sorry- getting my blue states confused.

Anonymous said...

OK, but I guess the question is, how hard would it be to implement something that's closer to an actual fix, compared to just reverting? I'm really not very familiar with this stuff. If it's not too much harder than ideally they should go for that, no?

Are you saying that the current rules, without modification, allow them to force an actual filibuster, they just aren't doing so? In that case I guess I mostly agree. Except, due to quorum calls, they can't actually force such too often - so as long as the rules continue to allow filibustering by notice of intent, the Republicans will continue to use such during the other cases. Meaning what have now, if this is true, is a reverse filibuster system - bills are filibustered by default, and require a costly procedure to not be so! (More costly than an actual filibuster, even, due to the number of people required.)

So, if that really is the case, then they can do this a few times, sure, but at some point an actual fix (or approximation to one) is needed. And if it's not the case, a fix is even more needed.