That appears to be the message that we are supposed to get from a New York Times story that works overtime in pushing the latest Democratic talking point; that even in the wake of Al Franken’s selection as Minnesota’s next Senator, and the 60 votes that this selection will give the Senate Democratic caucus, we should not expect the Democrats to be able to get everything they want in the Senate.
This is all a clever attempt to lower expectations, but it should not fly. The Democrats now have everything they have ever wanted: the ability to shut off Republican filibusters if only their caucus hangs together. Yes, there are Democratic Senators who are sick. Yes, there are Democratic Senators who are more conservative than the rest of the caucus is. So what? If Edward Kennedy and Robert Byrd can’t do the job anymore and impede the caucus’s efforts to shut off filibusters and pass legislation, they can resign from the Senate, and they will be replaced by younger, more vigorous Democrats. As for the conservative Democrats, well, no one ever said that being Senate Majority Leader was easy–indeed, the common saying is that being Senate Majority Leader is akin to having to herd cats. But if Harry Reid can’t herd cats, he should make way for someone who can. I can assure readers that Mitch McConnell would not shrink from the opportunity to use 60 votes in the Senate Republican caucus to pass legislation.
We all know that if the Senate Democrats fail at something in the future, they will blame Senate Republicans for gumming up the works. The atmospherics are being set in place for that particular brand of excuse-mongering. But the excuses should be rejected. The Democrats now have the magic 60 votes they clearly lusted after. If they can’t do anything with it, then perhaps the electorate should play Lincoln to the Senate Democrats’ McClellan and tell Harry Reid & Co. that if they aren’t using their majority status, the Republicans should be allowed to borrow that status for a while.