I'd predict that if we get a GOP House, it will be filled with crazed lunatics on a scale we haven't seen - think Orly Taitz crazy. Thus I'd expect their #1 priority would be impeaching Obama, not sending him veto bait. In 1995 they overreached, but that was with a House membership not pushed over the edge by fringe extremists. What they would do in 2011 is hard to predict, other than it would destroy any remaining credibility the Republicans might still have.
Primarying Obama is a silly notion. A GOP House would be one of the greatest political gifts he could receive, and by 2012 he would be politically unassailable. Nothing would get done in 2011 or 2012, but Obama would look so good by the end of it that no Democrat would dare go after him. And just as well; the only thing that could elect a President Palin or a President Huckabee would be a Democratic party torn apart by a devisive primary.
Why would eliminating the filibuster (by whatever means) be disastrous?
We already have a de facto supermajority requirement for passage of Senate legislation due to the differing amounts of population represented by senators; the GOP's 40 senators,for example, represent far less than 40% of the electorate. Thus senators representing a minority of the U.S. can block legislation even without the filibuster.
But the filibuster stacks the deck even further, allowing an even smaller minority to successfully block passage of anything.
Keeping this bizarre veto point in the federal government serves no useful purpose that I can see, and further, encourages mischief. Not only can the minority block the clear will of a majority of the electorate, but it can also muddy discourse by blaming the majority for not passing their programs even when it was the minority's obstructionism at fault.
Personally I'd be happy to junk the Senate (privileging arbitrary parts of the country over others due to the size of state boundaries is irrational). Failing that, we definitely ought to get rid of the filibuster. The means by which we accomplish this seems like a minor point.
The right is in a period of serious decline, both in terms of electoral prospects as well as in the quality of its leadership and rank-and-file. It's steeped in militaristic rhetoric and totalitarian thinking. I think eventually this will lead to violence.
At the moment the teabaggers have visions of 1994 dancing in their heads, and they think 2010 will sweep them back to power. While they may make some gains, but I don't see another 1994 happening, and when it doesn't, the righteous fervor will turn sour. If 2011 doesn't bring a spate of right wing violence, then Obama's reelection may well do so.
The Terri Schiavo trainwreck had already soured non-wingnuts on Bush, who had eked out only a bare win in 2004, and who already had seriously alienated the opposition. In any case there wasn't a position on immigration that could have satisfied both Bush's nativist base and improved the situation on the ground.
Bush's second term failure was unavoidable, even if he'd been a better politician and made other, less obviously disastrous decisions.
I don't think it's up to the U.S. Senate to adjudicate questions about Blago's fitness for office; that's clearly a question for the Illinois legislature. Absent an official pronouncement from the relevant authority (i.e. an impeachment), it's improper for the U.S. Senate to bigfoot its way into a matter of state government, such as deciding with no evidence or due process that a lawful appointment by a lawful Governor is invalid.
BTW, I don't see this as Blago throwing a lifeline; it's patently a spiteful appointment meant to cause trouble. Which it is successfully doing. But that doesn't trump the fact that the Senate doesn't have legal authority to stop the appointment. Such legal authority rested with the Illinois legislature, which failed to exercise said authority in a timely fashion, resulting in this dilemma.
Blago, whatever "cloud" he is under, is still the lawfully elected Governor of Illinois, who has not been charged with anything, much less convicted. I think they need a better reason than somebody's notion of tainting if they are going to overturn the appointment.
The real problem here is the failure of the Illinois legislature to do its duty and get Blago impeached before he pulled this crap. Impeachment is not a criminal proceeding and doesn't need criminal level standards of proof/procedure. The point of impeachment is to protect the citizenry from criminals in positions of authority, by removing them. This squirrely/spiteful appointment is a prime example of what a criminal Governor will do if unrestrained. The legislature's failure to impeach in a timely fashion is what led directly to this situation.
I grew up in Iowa and live in Missouri now, so I have a somewhat personal perspective on this.
First off, I agree with other commenters that the notion of "bellwether states" is questionable. Statistically, it's inevitable that some states will go with the winner more often that others, but their continuing to do so into the future may largely be a matter of luck.
Beyond that, the two states are demographically distinct. Both have conservative large rural regions balancing against more liberal urban areas, but in Missouri the urban/rural divide is like a chasm. The urban areas in Missouri are larger (Kansas City/St. Louis vs. Des Moines/Iowa City), yet even so the state as a whole is more conservative, mostly because the rural areas of Missouri are more like Mississippi than Minnesota. Missouri was not part of the old Confederacy, but was a slave state. (The Dred Scott decision was handed down in the old St. Louis court house across from the Arch.)
Beyond that, I think Iowa is whiter and better-educated than Missouri, plus it's already had a major exposure to the candidates through the early caucuses. Last of all, the approach to politics is more communal in Iowa, given that caucusing is inherently a public process. I remember when, here in Missouri, I first came across the attitude of "I don't tell strangers my political preferences," which I found bizarre (politics, after all, is a communal process where we come together to make political decisions; making it into a private thing left my Iowa sensibilities nonplussed).
During the past election I worked pretty hard to try to turn Missouri blue. Alas, it all seems to have been for naught (though we did boot Baby Blunt out of the Governor's office). Maybe next time.
Because any two Republicans on any specific issue would be immensely powerful.
No, this gets it exactly backwards. It's not that any two Republican Senators can threaten a filibuster and get their way. It's that if we can peel away any two out of the whole GOP caucus then the others are impotent. We don't have to negotiate with Inhofe and Coburn if we can get Specter and Snowe.
Personally I think they ought to junk the whole filibuster thing (as the GOP almost did a few years back), but I doubt they could get Biden to do the dirty work (he'd have to make a patently absurd procedural ruling in order to break established Senate precedent).
Yeah, the 1994 GOP sweep that brought Newt to power. Bill's zipper problems that led to impeachment and weakened Gore enough to let W steal it in 2000. The Dick Morris triangulation strategy that Bill used to bring back his own political fortunes while screwing the rest of the party.
Given the source (Politico, hardly a Dem-friendly source), it may be just an attempt to stir up emotions by reporting some offhand comment.
However, if the Clinton campaign is really trying this, they are pretty desperate. Since I doubt many pledged Obama delegates are to be had (at least on the first ballot), it'll probably work as well as all the rest of the junk they've tried.
I think it's a sanity-preserving response. The people now in control of the levers of power are basically just evil on these issues. We've seen time and again that a coalition of the administration, the GOP, and a selection of Bush dogs will always push to do the worst possible thing. The best we can hope for is to get these people out of power. Until that happens we'll be fighting a futile rearguard action.