On the Road To War Over the Filibuster?

Our good friend Greg Sargent of WaPo, who matches my own enthusiasm for filibuster reform, is also a lot more optimistic than I am about Harry Reid’s willingness and ability to go the whole hog. In that spirit, he today reports on a verbal slugfest between Reid and Mitch McConnell under the headline, “Harry Reid escalates ‘nuclear’ threat.”

Reid sounds pretty feisty all right. But Greg’s belief that Reid’s decision to push a vote on the nomination of Richard Cordray until July to create a really big showdown on every available nomination is only one way to look at it. The other way is that he doesn’t want to get the immigration reform bill, due to come to the floor next month, into the crossfire, and/or isn’t sure how either floor fight will turn out.

Maybe Greg’s right, and we’re in the runup to a real war over the filibuster. I certainly hope so. But like European nations during the runup to World War I, the United States Senate is a creaky machine where hostilities require extensive mobilization of forces before the fact. That may be all we are hearing right now. Or maybe, as in 1914, mobilization, once started, will be hard to stop.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.