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It All Comes Back to the Filibuster

President Barack ObamaIn the New York Times Micheal Shear and Peter Baker blame the failure of the Manchin-Toomey on President Obama’s inability to twist the arm of Democratic Senators like Mark Begich (D-AK). This is a strange interruption of the whole situation because as Greg Sargent pointed out even if Obama got every reluctant Democrat on board the measure would still have failed to get 60 votes.

The idea Obama could have done more on lobbying for this single issue is just not believable. He made it a top priority and created a national campaign. The measure failed because of Senate Republicans, who he has little influence over.

There is an important reason Obama deserves some blame for this particular failure, but it has nothing do with failing to put pressure on red state Democrats over gun control. It goes back to Democrats’ original failure of leadership at the beginning of this year.

This amendment, like so much of Obama’s agenda, failed in the Senate because of the filibuster. Amazingly, the word “filibuster” never appears once in their article.

Obama has had numerous opportunities to aggressively push for reforming the Senate rule but he didn’t.

While trying to find leverage to twist 60 Democratic and Republican arms for every single action in the Senate is not feasible, Obama could have tried to put everything he had into getting only 50 Democrats beyond Senate rules reform. It would have been tough, but given the implications of this one change it would have been worth using tactics that can’t be justified for a single bill or amendment.

When Obama didn’t go all in on Senate rules reform at the beginning of this year he effectively chose to give Senate Republicans an unjustifiable veto. Any gun control bill was already doomed the moment that happened.

It is both irresponsible and damaging to our society for reporters to keep pretending as if the problem for every bill is Obama not sharing enough beers or impersonating LBJ. The single issue in the Senate is Democrats refusing to use their power to pass things with a simple majority.

Photo by nasa hq photo released under Creative Commons License

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at