This article about Senator Tom Coburn captures a truly antidemocratic moment in the U.S. Senate, as party leaders bring to the floor a "Tomnibus" bill of some 35 pieces of legislation that the good Senator from Oklahoma is personally holding up. Senate customs that allow small groups of senators to hold up legislation have been used much more successfully by Republicans than than Democrats in recent years, but getting into a procedural battle about eliminating them wouldn't be a good use of time with so little legislative time left before campaign season.

On the other hand, it may be that the only way to force these bills through is to make Coburn actually filibuster them -- and I'm confident that the Oklahoman would relish getting a good ten hours of floor time to talk about whatever he pleases. It'll be interesting to see how Harry Reid handles this one (the Times seems pessimistic about his chances for success) since it will be a preview of his ability to handle obstructionist Senators in 2009.

--Tim Fernholz

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