I just watched the Senate invoke cloture on the Cass Sunstein nomination, 63-35 (thanks to David Weigel for the alert). I do enjoy watching Senate votes.
On the one hand, this certainly shows that Glenn Beck may be able to bounce a Van Jones thanks to Jones's "truther" past, but he can't bring down someone without something on his record that Washingtonians think is beyond the pale. On the other hand, that's 35 votes against a nominee who had done nothing particularly controversial, and had plenty of support from conservative elites. One has to wonder: if there were 55 Republican Senators right now, could Obama get anyone confirmed?
On the other other hand, while Sunstein is popular among intellectuals, including conservatives, it's not as if they are a particularly influential bunch, and I doubt there were any more organized interest groups with a stake in seeing Sunstein joining the administration. And my guess is that it's a soft 35 votes against; Democrats Lincoln, Pryor, and Webb all voted no, and I suspect that they could have been had if it had mattered. Similarly, the dynamics of automatically opposing nominees with even a hint of controversy might be different for Republicans if anything meaningful was at stake -- and of course if there were fifteen more Republican Senators, some of them would be from states where opposing a Democratic president could be more difficult.
And on yet another hand (yeah, I've lost track too), while the Beck case against Sunstein might be nuts, Sunstein does have a long paper trail, so it's not as if it's hard to find something to pull out of context.
Nice to see John McCain embracing the crazy, though. The GOP yes votes were the two from Maine of course, along with Lugar and Voinovich, almost-nominee Gregg, and the two Utah Senators.
Sure would be a coup for Obama to get some kind of commitment to oppose health care cloture from Lugar and/or Voinovich. Things have been very quiet on that front...get to work, reporters!