Amazing. I predicted once or twice in writing about the AWB that there might not be 50 votes but I felt silly about it afterwards. Of course there’d be 50 votes. The bill was doomed to be filibustered given the GOP’s solid opposition plus the skittishness of red-state Dems like Mark Pryor, Mark Begich, and Mary Landrieu, but Reid would be able to muster 50 if only because Senate Democrats would want to avoid humiliating Obama after his big gun-control campaign. That way, even when the bill failed on the cloture vote, O could still claim that it had majority support in the Senate. That’s key for his 2014 messaging against the GOP: The more stuff he can lay at the feet of Republicans, the better Democrats’ chances are.
Instead, this. Wow:
“Dianne has worked so hard on this,” Reid said, referring to the ban’s sponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “She understands going back to the day she found the mayor dead in his office. I know that, but right now her amendment, using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes. That’s not 60. I have to get something on the floor so we can have votes on that issue and the other issues.”
You know what the most amazing part is? That Reid would actually float this incredibly lame number instead of just saying “we didn’t have the votes” and leaving it at that. Is he … trying to humiliate Obama (and Feinstein)? Is he annoyed, maybe, that O pounded the table for an AWB knowing that doing so made Reid the bad guy potentially for being unable to marshal the 60 votes needed to make the liberal base’s dreams come true? Or is he actually P.O.’d at his caucus for not being willing to give Obama even 50 votes and is trying to humiliate them here by specifying just how feeble their support was? That may have a strategic component too insofar as Feinstein is likely to offer the AWB as an amendment to Schumer’s background-checks bill. If Senate Dems are sufficiently shamed and get an earful from their constituents, they might to get to 50 for the amendment after all even though it’s destined to be flibustered.
But never mind that. Assume that all 45 Republicans in the Senate are voting no on the AWB; that means, per Reid’s number, that there are at least 16(!) Democrats prepared to vote no as well. Who are they? Find me 16 from this list. Baucus, Begich, Casey, Donnelly, Hagan, Heitkamp, Johnson, Landrieu, Manchin, Pryor, Rockefeller, Tester — that’s 12. Who else? Mark Warner and/or Tim Kaine? Tom Harkin, even though he voted for Feinstein’s last go at an AWB in 2004? Are there maybe a few liberals in the Senate who are voting no because the ban doesn’t go far enough? Darn it, we need a whip count.
Exit question via Jim Geraghty: Did Harry Reid miss the part of the SOTU where Obama insisted that victims of gun violence deserve a vote?