Where You Sit

ObamaSteamed_sm Position, they say, is policy. President Obama is discovering, as are many of his fellow travellers, that the tools he was only too happy to have available as a Senator can be quite nettlesome when viewed from the Oval Office.

Thus, as Jake Tapper noted, the only President in history to have voted to filibuster a judicial nominee had the chutzpah to decry the “political posturing and ideological brinksmanship” that has characterized the Supreme Court nomination process when it was his turn. And, whereas he held every conceivable position on filibustering the FISA bill, now that his signature domestic priority has been subject to that same meat grinder, he thinks invoking cloture has been used in and “unheard of” fashion:

President Barack Obama on Wednesday expressed frustration with the way the Senate does business, saying the use of delaying tactics there harms the nation’s ability to “deal with big problems in a very competitive world.”

“Other countries are going to start running circles around us,” Obama said in a White House interview with PBS. “We’re going to have to return to some sense that governance is more important than politics inside the Senate.”

Obama’s critique of his former Senate colleagues came just as his allies there were on the cusp of giving him what he wants: passage of a Senate health care bill.

The bare-minimum bloc of 60 senators—all 58 Democrats and two independents—voted to end a GOP filibuster and move toward final passage Thursday.

Obama said the use of that vote-stalling tactic, which requires 60 votes to cut off debate, has been imposed in an “unheard of” routine fashion. He said it’s problematic regardless of which party controls the White House and Congress, but conceded that, as president, he doesn’t have much power to do anything about it.

Suffice it to say, his critique would have carried considerably more weight if he’d considered it “problematic regardless of which party controls the White House and Congress” when he was in the Senate and a Republican was in the White House. But that’s not Obama’s style.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, US Politics, ,
Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.

Comments

  1. steve says:

    Nonetheless, he is substantially correct. What was once rare, is now common.

    Steve

  2. kth says:

    the only President in history to have voted to filibuster a judicial nominee

    Before Obama, the last Senators who became Presidents (JFK and LBJ) served their last terms during the administration of the moderate Republican Dwight Eisenhower (Nixon was also a Senator, but his time in the Senate ended even earlier). And unlike George W. Bush, Ike wasn’t known for nominating litmus-tested stalwart conservatives. Thus this is possibly the lamest, least illuminating statistic that has ever appeared on the internet.

  3. JVB says:

    People ARE waking to the fact that Obama has two faces. He came from Chicago-style politics and people are seeing he was a very quick study, probably because it suits him so well. Obama is going to face the history books as the wolf in sheep’s clothing. I hope history also notes he was removed from power before he was able to destroy the country. Every thing he does serves one purpose….HIS…and no one else is part of HIS equation. His ego…His agenda…HIS HIS HIS.

  4. sam says:

    he thinks invoking cloture the filibuster has been used in and “unheard of” fashion

    I think, huh? Anyway,

    But that’s not Obama’s style.

    Do you think it would have been McCain’s style had he been elected? That’s to say, suppose a tactic that McCain had used in the Senate was used against one of his presidential initiatives, do you really think President McCain would view the thing with equanimity? I don’t think so, given his temper. And I don’t think that, except fleetingly–and in a fit of reflexive partisanship–I would round on him for “inconsistency”. President McCain would have other goals and responsibilities than Senator McCain.

  5. Dodd says:

    Thus this is possibly the lamest, least illuminating statistic that has ever appeared on the internet

    The stat, in and of itself, is entirely meaningless. Coupled with his remarks on his own nominees, however, it’s extremely telling. And not in a flattering way.

    Do you think it would have been McCain’s style had he been elected?

    McCain actually does stand up for principles, even when it causes him problems with his allies. Obama votes “present” whenever possible.

  6. anjin-san says:

    But that’s not Obama’s style.

    Perhaps his style is to get things done. If a President can’t get his agenda enacted, he turns into, well, Jimmy Carter. I don’t think anyone wants that.

    McCain actually does stand up for principles

    Really? Like “country first”? I guess putting someone like Sarah Palin, who is hopelessly unqualified (and a freaking quitter) in the VP slot in a desperate attempt to put some life into his faltering campaign was a good example of that…

  7. anjin-san says:

    Oh, and Dodd? The “fellow travelers” thing is lame. If you are going to try to be clever, it is a good thing to actually… be clever.

  8. steve says:

    “McCain actually does stand up for principles, even when it causes him problems with his allies. ”

    Guess I was the only one to notice the McCain of 2008 was much different than the McCain of 2000.

    Steve

  9. Dodd says:

    I can’t help but wonder what anjin-san’s Fark handle is….

  10. brainy435 says:

    Remember: Only conservatives can be hypocrites. Liberals are just realists.

  11. sam says:

    McCain actually does stand up for principles, even when it causes him problems with his allies. Obama votes “present” whenever possible.

    That’s unresponsive to my argument–but that’s your style.

  12. Dodd says:

    That’s unresponsive to my argument–but that’s your style.

    You didn’t really make an argument, friend. You posed some strawmen and then set them on fire with irrelevant conjecture. My response went directly to the point: How the two men have behaved as Senators….

    his critique would have carried considerably more weight if he’d considered it “problematic regardless of which party controls the White House and Congress” when he was in the Senate and a Republican was in the White House. But that’s not Obama’s style.

    It’s difficult to imagine a circumstance where a President McCain finds this Congress filibustering a lot of his signature agenda items. The battles he’d be having would be of an entirely different sort. But even if that bizarre circumstance were to have obtained my response would still be more likely to prove accurate than your conjectures.

  13. Marty says:

    For the umpteenth time – There is no such thing as a vote of ‘present’ in the US Senate, so Obama did no such thing.

    A vote of ‘present’ in the Illinois General Assembly is basically a motion to refer back to committee and is relatively common, and always has been.

    Strawman, indeed.

  14. anjin-san says:

    It’s difficult to imagine a circumstance where a President McCain finds this Congress filibustering a lot of his signature agenda items.

    True, because this congress would have the votes to simply defeat them outright.