I don't mean to run this into the ground, but -- well, actually I do mean to run it into the ground. This week's news really is a perfect distillation of a long-standing problem we generally just assume to be part of the landscape and yet matters more and more.
Main problem: the decision by Mitch McConnell's GOP Senate minority, once they lost their majority status in the 2006 elections, to filibuster nearly every item of public business. Nominations, routine appropriations, standard business, not to mention any genuinely controversial proposal. What had been for 200 years an exceptional tactic has become an everyday impediment. De facto, the Constitution has been amended to change the Senate from a majority-rule body to one requiring a 60-vote "supermajority." And since the Senate already heavily over-represents small-population states, in effect Senators representing a quarter to a third of the nation's people hold a veto over all items of public business, and have repeatedly exercised it.
'Enabler' problem: The reluctance of the mainstream media to call this what it is, and instead to talk about "partisanship" and "logjam" and "dysfunction." Yes, those are the results. But the cause is intentional, and it comes overwhelmingly from one side.
We had illustrations in the past few days from the NYT and, in jaw-dropping fashion, yesterday from the WaPo. And earlier this morning I was listening to a political "analysis" show on the radio that was all about this sad modern predicament of Congressional gridlock. The word "filibuster" was not used in that hour, unless it was during the minute I was plunging my head into the toilet tank in despair.