Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Defending Maddow Against Nyhan

Brendan Nyhan tweets, and then posts:
Rachel Maddow again hacks it up with claim that GOP is "already pledging to filibuster" Obama's Supreme Court nominee
On the narrow point, I suppose that Nyhan is correct: the GOP hasn't "pledged" to filibuster.  In the real world, however, Senate Republicans are filibustering Barack Obama's choice for the Supremes.  Obama knows, as he makes his selection, that he's going to need 60 votes in the Senate.  Does Nyhan really think that it's even remotely likely that a nominee could be confirmed, say, 53-47?  I don't.  It's a 60 vote Senate, and any pretense by Republicans to the contrary is just posturing.  In other words, any nominee unpopular enough that she won't draw 60 votes will trigger Republican "threats" to force a cloture vote.  Given that, I think it's much better to use clear language and talk about the need for 60 votes, which requires calling, a filibuster a filibuster.

It would be false to claim that all 41 Senate Republicans are committed to opposing any nominee Obama sends up.  Clearly, that's not the case.  It's not even absolutely certain that there are no potential votes for yes on cloture, no on the nominee.  But realistically, Obama has to worry about getting 60 votes, not getting 50 votes plus Biden and hoping that there's no filibuster.  And in my view, reporting and commenting on the nomination should make that clear.

1 comment:

  1. You're assuming, of course, that most Republicans in the Senate would like to filibuster anyone Obama nominates, and that the only thing stopping them from doing so is knowing they lack the votes.


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