Filibuster For Your Country

As regular readers know, I’m a pretty hard-core opponent of the Senate filibuster. Thus I am naturally inclined to think that in circumstances where a Democratic filibuster just becomes a substitute for an Obama veto, why not skip the intermediate blocking point and let obnoxious bills go to Obama’s desk?

In the case of the Iran Nuke Deal, it’s sounds like the White House is putting out some talking points suggesting that failure to block a resolution of disapproval in the Senate will be read overseas as a sign that the Deal is not solid, per a report in Politico from Dovere and Everett:

Obama faces a huge pile-up of trouble if he has to veto the bill, and they know it in the West Wing. Already facing major public skepticism about the deal, this could brew more doubt. The other governments involved have expressed their own wariness, concerned that a deal preserved only by a sustained veto might represent a lack of long-term American commitment.

“There’s a cost to the international credibility of the country and this president if a motion of disapproval passes the House and the Senate,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who’s working with Durbin. “There is some harm to the country’s standing if we have to go through the charade of a veto.”

Really? I’m pretty sure all the Democratic presidential candidates would live up to the deal if the become president, and all the Republicans would undermine it to one degree or another, or at least so they all swear. What does an empty, vetoed resolution add to its strength or its weakness going forward?

I guess some would advance theories of presidential capital being expended on opposition to a veto override, or spent more abundantly than the White House would prefer on this whole subject. But c’mon, let’s face it: Barack Obama is in his last two years in office. What does he need with political capital? He made it into 2015 having vetoed only two bills. He can keep the veto pen out for a while without damaging his legacy as someone who tried to reason with an unreasoning opposition.

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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.