by David Safier
Intentionally or not, Obama and the Democrats are putting the squeeze on Republicans in Congress, breaking down the GOP's united wall of resistance to everything a Democrat might support. Some not-too-crazy Republicans who are sick of being bullied by their batshit-crazy right wing are being peeled off with gun and immigration legislation. The next assault on the GOP's united front will likely be the confirmation fight over Sri Srinivasan who the Obama administration hopes will fill an open slot on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. That's three battles the obstructionists have to fight simultaneously, fragmenting their efforts and diluting their message. Chances are, they're going to lose on some or all of the issues.
It's too early to say for sure, but it looks like the filibuster promised on any gun legislation by a bloc of Republican senators is going down. Enough Republicans are planning to join Democrats to get over the 60 vote mark. Meanwhile, immigration legislation is being pushed by Republicans who are — gasp! — working together with Democrats like Chuck Schumer to forge a bipartisan bill. Just the fact that Republicans are taking contrary positions on those two pieces of legislation is exposing cracks in the GOP wall of resistance. If legislation is voted on in the House and the Senate, Republicans will be forced to make public declarations of their positions on the issues which could sink their hopes of attracting voters in the middle who are for gun control legislation and comprehensive immigration reform. Whatever bills come to the floor will probably be far short of what we want — they may even be voted down — but Republicans are going to be weakened simply by allowing a vote.
The confirmation fight over Sri Srinivasan for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals wouldn't even be happening if Republicans weren't in total obstructionist mode. This is a guy who's supported by Ken Starr of Clinton impeachment fame as well as former Supreme Court clerks on both sides of the aisle. It's a non-controversial appointment. If Srinivasan is confirmed, it's a victory for Democrats which could open the way for more stalled Obama appointments. If a filibuster holds, Democrats will have one more argument for limiting future filibusters.
Republicans like to fight Democratic legislation one bill at a time — it makes messaging far simpler — while they throw all kinds of issues at Dems to confuse them. This time, the right wing is being forced to fight so many battles and send out so many unpopular messages, their attempts at messaging are getting lost in the confusion. Instead of taking hold and swaying the public, the weak messaging may be damaging the Republicans themselves.
There's no telling where this will all end up, but I like the way the politics are moving, even if I'm frustrated by the watered-down legislation which is probably the best Democrats can hope to pass. Republicans could come out of this seriously fractured and weakened, which increases the prospect of more Democratic legislation on the horizon as well as hopes for a good outcome in the 2014 election.