Gridlock Caused by Unidentifiable Forces.

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The image at right is a screenshot of Yahoo News from this morning, with stories about the fact that a package of programs to boost small business was filibustered by Republicans in the Senate. You'll notice that while some of the stories make clear who actually killed this bill, many do not. The facts are clear: Democrats want to pass the package, and Republicans don't. Republicans filibustered. Democrats have been unable to overcome the Republican filibuster. But to read many of these articles, you'd barely be able to figure out that there's a difference between the parties on this question. Instead, what we get is a lot of passive-voice construction about procedural matters and a hamstrung institution. The clearest case may be this ABC News article, which says the bill "failed to overcome a procedural hurdle in the Senate" and that "the bill has languished in the Senate because of partisan gridlock."

Needless to say, this is precisely the storyline Republicans want. They obstruct anything and everything, but the blame gets cast on "partisan gridlock," which allows them to condemn the very dysfunction they're causing.

-- Paul Waldman

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