James Fallows had a good catch this morning on the New York Times headline about the jobs bill, which failed to get cloture last night in the Senate. The complaint is that the Times failed (in the headline) to make it clear that the bill was blocked by a filibuster, rather than "defeated" by a simple majority.
Fair enough, but this is a case where the press is basically following the lead of the consensus from leaders of both parties to treat the 60 vote Senate as a fact of life. And for that, the blame clearly falls on the Democrats, and on Barack Obama and Harry Reid in particular. Neither reacted strongly to the unprecedented decision of the Republicans to filibuster everything in 2009. For that matter, Senate liberals didn't really put up much of a fuss for some time.
In part, that's because Reid's position -- which I believe is totally reasonable -- is a hard one to make into a soundbite; after all, he supports the traditional Senate rules, and even relatively frequent filibusters. He just doesn't support the current level. That's a lot harder to sell than "majority rule", even if it is justified.
On the other hand, I don't see what Obama's excuse was. It's possible that someone told him that highlighting the filibuster in 2009-2010 would antagonize Senate institutionalists including some Democrats (such as Robert Byrd, when he was still there), or that he drew that conclusion from his own time in the Senate. It's possible that he also supports (more limited) filibusters, putting him in the same boat as Reid. Or perhaps it was part of his "be friendly to Republicans" approach. Whichever way, I'd say it was a mistake; the institutional role of the presidency is to bash Congress for it's procedural difficulties, and Obama failed to do that.
And with Obama and Reid acting as if everything was normal, the neutral press mostly followed. Just as when Republicans acted as if reconciliation was some sort of strange procedure, the neutral press described it as controversial.
Again, I'm not for eliminating the filibuster (although I am for modifying it). But Barack Obama should have been fighting against it, whatever he really thought about it. Not because it would have affected NYT headline writers, although it would have, but because only by threatening to get rid of it by majority vote if necessary would Democrats be able to bargain for keeping filibuster frequency at much lower levels than it wound up being.