There was a time when I respected and admired Maureen Dowd as a smart, edgy political commentator; however that time is in the really distant past. It's been quite a while since she traded in her once astute observations for snarky cheap shots, but trade them in she did and apparently there's no going back.
Her latest "slam book" attack involves President Obama and the defeat of gun control legislation in congress. According to her its failure to pass, and by pass, I mean get enough votes to overcome a filibuster, since the legislation did get a majority of the votes to actually pass, lays squarely on Obama's shoulders. Ms. Dowd's point is that the president doesn't have the cajones or the competence to scare Republicans or fellow Democrats into supporting a bill that 90% of the country favors.
Let me just state for the record that I don't disagree with her assessment that "no one is afraid of him" when it comes to President Obama. I've certainly made the same point myself in numerous blogs right here on the dailykos; however, this time the reason legislation didn't get passed is not because of Obama's weakness as a negotiator or his inability to whip fellow Democrats into shape, it's because we have an incredibly impotent and ineffective Senate Majority Leader in Harry Reid.
The fact that Ms. Dowd conveniently overlooks when comparing Obama's performance to that of past presidents is that he is the only one who has ever had to deal with an out-of-control abuse of the filibuster process. It's a lot easier to get a majority of your party's senators onboard in support of controversial bills when all you need is a majority, not a super-majority.
After four years of relentless obstructionism by the senate Republicans, Harry Reid had the opportunity at the beginning of this congress to reform the filibuster. In fact, he promised he would do just that, but after stringing those of us who supported filibuster reform along for weeks, he ended up making a hand-shake deal with Mitch McConnell that left the filibuster intact and Republican obstruction to all legislation firmly in place.
It wasn't the first time Majority Leader Reid made empty threats he couldn't carry out or failed to reign in his fellow Democrats who jumped off the reservation and there isn't a single progressive among us who thinks it will be the last.
President Obama is, I believe, the only president who has ever faced having the out-of-power party oppose every bill associated with his name, including ones that they themselves authored and supported in previous administrations, simply because it's associated with his name. We have all seen the GOP refuse to vote for bills even when he's giving them what they've asked for just because their base would revolt at the very idea of striking a deal with him. His meeting with, let alone putting pressure on Republicans to support gun control legislation not only wouldn't have helped get it through, it would have killed any chance of it passing at all.
The one person who could have insured that the majority of the senate had their way and at a minimum, passed expanded background checks, was Senator Harry Reid. Unfortunately, as Senator Reid has demonstrated with disturbing frequency, he has neither the clout nor the backbone to actually lead as the Majority Leader.
The old Maureen Dowd, who was attuned to the machinations of Washington's political gamesmanship would have realized that. However, Ms. Dowd no longer concerns herself with nuance or facts. As any powerful mean girl can tell you, the facts are whatever she says they are.