In a previous blarg post I mentioned that the failure of the democrats to take the senate seat in Georgia from Saxby Chambliss’ cold, wicked grasp basically doomed their hopes of reaching the “filibusterproof” magic 60 seats. I’ve also joined certain other corners of the blogosphere in speculating that Obama would pick a republican senator as a way to show bipartisanship while allowing the (presumably) democratic governor of the state in question to appoint a successor and pad out the majority. Jay Newtown-Small over at Swampland is now helping drive the story that such a scenario may be at hand, with Judd Gregg (R-NH) rumored to be under consideration as Richardson’s replacement at Commerce. For this lovely scenario to unfold though, several things have to happen:

Minnesota Must Fall: Despite the Minnesota state board of elections basically certifying Al Franken as the winner by a hair-splitting majority, for him to be able to take his seat Norm Coleman has to stop suing him. Until the legal trench warfare is concluded, we’ve basically only got 99 senators and the dems still can’t form voltron.

John Lynch Must Obey His Masters: Apparantly as I was typing this out the story has broken on Politico that Gregg himself has actually confirmed he’s in the mix for commerce. The GOP, not being as stupid as some of us wish they were, has realized shenanigans are afoot and has resorted to such measures as begging Gregg not to accept and begging democratic New Hapmshire governor John Lynch to appoint a republican as his successor. As satisfying as the desperation dripping off John Cornyn’s brow is, New Hampshire is still a remarkably purple state, esp for new england, and thus may not necessarily dance to the same tune as Pelosi and Reid since he figures his voters might actually punish him for lurching too far left (it’s worth noting New Hampshire “only” went for Obama by 9 points, his narrowest victory in the entire Northeast).

A Divinty Must Intervene:  I’m going to keep pounding away at this until it sinks in: the magic 60 is a false yardstick. For it work ALL the democrats must vote as one, which is exceedingly unlikely given how their newfound power has already begun exposing hairline fractures within the caucus, most notably with the Blue Dogs, as well as the fracture formed between Nancy Pelosi and pretty much everyone else. Furthermore it assumes the democrats couldn’t peel off even one or two moderate republicans, and I must say if even Olympia Snowe won’t cross over for a given bill it speaks volumes for it’s viability to begin with. The only times politicians come together in united votes like that typically involve large body counts, in which case the GOP isn’t likely to present much opposition to begin with. In fact the republicans managed to take a few democratic heads whilst breaking Obama’s legendary jedi mind trick. Plus the GOP’s about to have problems of its own, as their opposition to the stimulus, while symbolically successful in likely signaling the beginning of the end of Obama’s honeymoon (at least on the Hill), now means the force of Obama’s still very much functional grassroots organization will be turned upon them.

In sum, a perfect storm of factors has to come together for the magic 60 to even kind of work, and the most unlikely one is Harry Reid actually keeping his caucus in one peice.


-We’re All In This Together