And Franken Makes 60

Old news, you say? Maybe we just "don't get" satire? No worse than Monty Python's Life of Brian? Perhaps not. But then Graham Chapman and the boys aren't senators.

Franken has obviously learned in the interim to subsume his anti-Christian bigotry beneath a veneer of cynical political double-talk. But if we're not going to hold our elected officials to minimum standards of tolerance and respect for differing religions, races, and ethnic backgrounds, why should we expect the rest of us to behave any better?

Minnesotans are such nice, sane people ordinarily, you wonder what possessed them to vote in such large numbers for this bigoted neophyte. The fact is, Minnesotans are indeed nice, sane people who had it up to here with the Republican Party -- so much so that the nice, sane moderate conservative Norm Coleman was forced to suffer the consequences.

Coleman didn't deserve to lose, especially in this fashion, to a comedian. Then again, we don't deserve to be forced to put up with the cretins in Washington who are running the Republican Party. "Deserve" has got nothing to do with it. Republicans have soiled their own bed and now must lie in it until, forced from below to reform, they come to their senses and initiate changes that will unite the factions and make the party competitive again.

That is in the future. Right now, Republicans must deal with the fact that the Democrats have 60 votes and a "filibuster proof" majority. On paper, this is true. But as Jay Cost reminds us, the realty is a little more prosaic:

A filibuster-proof majority is great for the party that has it, but it has its limits. On purely party-line votes, perhaps procedural stuff, it should make a difference. But, on the really big stuff, what will matter is the preferences of the individual legislators.

The bonds of partisanship are relatively weak in the United States Congress, and especially weak in the Senate. This limits the power that the party in the chamber has over its members.

Indeed, as Cost points out, moderates from both parties hold the whip hand now. The problem from a conservative perspective is that they will be compromising on Obama agenda items -- sort of like choosing between drinking hemlock and being bitten by a black Mamba. Either way you're dead but the hemlock acts a little slower.

On some important procedural matters, the Democrats will prevail and prevent a GOP filibuster now that Franken will be seated. But those votes will be few and far between. What should be news is that the Senate now has a very liberal, hyper-partisan member who has a history of going into uncontrolled fits of rage, and has a demonstrated intolerance of Christians.

One wonders who Franken will help more in the long run.