A Modest Proposal: Call Obstruction What It Is

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(See UPDATE below) Here is the headline in the online home page of the NYT, about Obama's "pass this jobs bill, pass it now" proposal. Note the word "fails":


NYTJobsBill.png


The subhead and the rest of the article make clear that more Senators voted for the bill than against it -- 50 to 49. It would have been 51-48 except for a parliamentary ruse by Majority Leader Harry Reid, who switched to a "No" vote so that he would later be able to call it up for reconsideration.

We have gone so far in recent years toward routinizing the once-rare requirement for a 60-vote Senate "supermajority" into an obstacle for every nomination and every bill that our leading newspaper can say that a measure "fails" when it gets more Yes than No votes. (For background on mounting abuse of the filibuster, see accounts from late 2009, early 2010, and late 2010.)

Again, the subhead and story make the real situation clear. So how about a headline that says plainly what happened:

"Obama's Jobs Bill
Blocked by GOP in
Procedural Move"

It would fit. And it would help offset the mounting mis-impression that the Constitution dictates a 60-vote margin for getting anything done.

(Update: here's an example of the right headline, conveniently at our own site. OTOH the story itself is not as clear about the realities as the NYT's is and had an unfortunate headline in its original version at our sister site.)

Bonus Update: Here is a much worse headline and presentation from the Daily Beast.

dailybeast.png

Update^3: Thanks to T.H., a screengrab showing the greatness of the BBC.
Picture 1.png

And, via Daily Kos, even gutsier play by the Cincinnati Enquirer.  Also (more updates) excellent piece by Ari Melber in the Nation on this same story. Plus, good for the New Haven Register with this headline: "GOP senators defeat Obama's $447B jobs bill."
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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