Given the increasingly geriatric nature of the Senate, making the Republicans actually conduct a talk-all-night, cots-in-the-cloakroom filibuster raises the ante substantially. If Reid carries through, he might be able to curb the routine use of the filibuster to carry out the Republicans’ published threat to deny the Democratic-led Congress any legislative accomplishment whatsoever.
Reid has chosen his ground well: Iraq is a highly salient issue, with overwhelming public opposition to an open-ended commitment. If the next week of news coverage is all about the Republicans supporting the President rather than the troops, I don’t see any downside.
The Left Blogosphere and many Democratic voters have been frustrated by Reid’s gentlemanly tactics. I think he’s playing rope-a-dope. Now when he gets tough, it’s evidently in response to public demand. What he seems to remember, that his critics forget, is that it isn’t public opinion today that counts; it’s public opinion a year from November. It doesn’t much matter that the last three months of coverage has been about “ineffectual Democrats,” as long as the next sixteen months is about “obstructionist Republicans.” Once that narrative is established, Reid can go nuclear in various ways — riding a bunch of items that got filibustered on the White House Appropriation, for example — without looking unreasonable.
Just remember: Fabius Maximus wasn’t playing for a draw when he kept avoiding battle. He was weakening Hannibal’s forces as a prelude to destroying them.