I realize that I am now beginning the kind of post that will lead eemom, burns, and JMN to call me a hyperbolic extremist whose blog posts would have no place in a court of law, but contrarian bullshit like this is why I stopped reading Kevin Drum three or four years ago. Here, he claims that it’s good that establishment media now treats a 40-vote minority (enough to filibuster) as a majority:
Here, I’m on the Post’s side. Like it or not, the reality of congressional politics has changed. The Senate is now a 60-vote body, and it’s the vote on a cloture motion that’s the important vote. For all practical purposes, the cloture vote is the vote on the bill. So my complaint would be just the opposite of Fallows’s. Instead of insisting on a Schoolhouse Rock version of reporting, I’d prefer it if the media routinely reported on the actual reality of legislation today. If you want to report accurately, you should (a) report the cloture vote as a vote on the bill itself, (b) you should make clear that 60 votes are required to pass a bill, and (c) you should report the partisan breakdown of the voting — something that used to be routine but now only occasionally appears in reports of legislative activity.
The Senate has only become a body that requires supermajorities within the past few years. Most readers are not aware of how big a change this is. They may not even be aware that the change has taken place at all. They may be unaware that (a) most Senate bills now require 60 votes for passage and (b) that this was not the case for the previous 200 years of American democracy.
This is not unlike the tortue issue. Many people were probably unaware that waterboarding represented a break with previous American interrogation policies. Were the papers supposed to tell readers that waterboarding is just something that happens now?
Perhaps the biggest political story of the past 15 years is the way in which Republicans have changed the rules, from having the Supreme Court decide elections, to pre-emptive wars, to turning the DOJ into an arm of the RNC, to using torture as an interrogation method, to turning the Senate into a body that requires a supermajority for passage of bills (EDIT: before this is used as further proof of my unseriousness, Democrats also filibustered a great deal in 2005 and 2006).
To shrug and say “shit happens, reporting should just reflect the new rules” seems to me the height of insanity and something that you would only say if you were more in love with the brilliance of your own contrarian wit than in conveying the truth to your readers.