Who’s Afraid of a Filibuster?

While the ultimate occupants of three United States Senate seats are yet to be determined in Alaska, Georgia, and Minnesota, chances seem small that Democrats will increase their new majority to 60 seats – the supermajority that insures against a successful filibuster. So the same Republicans who once complained about the use of that legislative weapon by the opposition now brandish it in warning to President-elect Barack Obama.

Nobody can doubt that the Republican remnant in the Senate will obstruct as soon as that seems politically safe. Right-wing pundits, from Rush Limbaugh to the Wall Street Journal editorial page are already egging them on furiously. But is there enough muscle behind that filibuster threat to block Mr. Obama’s mandate?

The short answer is no – and the new president’s own political arsenal should enable him to call the Republican bluff.

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