After spending months staring at the electoral mapand trying to puzzle out which states might go for President Obama, which for Mitt Romney and by how much, we thought it was worth sorting through the actual results to find the 10 states where the two men ran closest.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) makes it plain as day that his plan for the next two years is the same as his plan for the last four—to wage a passive-aggressive war against the president:
The American people did two things: they gave President Obama a second chance to fix the problems that even he admits he failed to solve during his first four years in office, and they preserved Republican control of the House of Representatives. The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the President’s first term, they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control. Now it’s time for the President to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely-divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office. To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we’ll be there to meet him half way. That begins by proposing a way for both parties to work together in avoiding the ‘fiscal cliff’ without harming a weak and fragile economy, and when that is behind us work with us to reform the tax code and our broken entitlement system. Republicans are eager to hear the President’s proposals on these and many other pressing issues going forward and to do the work the people sent us here to do.
“Closely-divided Senate”? Huh? Is he talking about the same Senate in which Democrats expanded their majority despite defending more than twice as many seats as Republicans during yesterday’s election? The Senate in which Democrats now have a majority of at least 8, but probably 10 (assuming Angus King caucuses with them), seats? And despite that clear cut majority, the president should let House Speaker John Boehner and McConnell repeat their bad cop-worse cop routine from 2011’s debt limit battle? No thanks.
There’s only one way McConnell’s passive-aggressive strategy can work: if he’s armed with the ability to block legislation with just 40 votes. That’s why there’s only one constructive way to respond to his threats: reform the filibuster now.
It’s one thing if Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans decide they want to sit on the sidelines with their thumbs up their you-know-whats, fine. But that sort of attitude shouldn’t be rewarded by giving them veto power over the senate. If they aren’t going to participate in governing, so be it. But don’t make the mistake of once again giving them power to force the entire government into gridlock. The nation can’t afford it.
For 30 years, Arlen Specter stood as a symbol for so much that now seems to have disappeared from today’s Senate.
Specter, the five-term ex-senator who died Sunday, occupied a space in the Senate that no longer fits the current political environment: raging centrist. From the day he was first sworn in in January 1981, Specter spent his career finding ways to enrage both ends of the ideological spectrum, throwing his always sharp elbows at liberals one month only to do the same to conservatives the next month.