41 is the New 51: Why America’s Political Numeracy Crisis Continues


We were kidding (to the apparent mystification of some of our readers), but a front page item from the Philadelphia Metro discovered by Atrios shows the impression persists that Scott Brown’s election, which turned the Democratic Senate advantage from 60-40 to 59-41, is actually the dawn of a new Republican era.

They have a point: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is behaving like it is, too, suddenly announcing that the Senate health care bill, of which she had previously spoken optimistically, is now a dead issue in the House.If those of you who can count find this mystifying, bear in mind that for Republicans the only agenda is blocking Obama’s: they’re holding up more than a hundred of his federal appointees, and the 60-vote supermajority was all that was preventing them from filibustering every time some Democrat opened his or her mouth. As James Fallows explains in a comparison of the Senate to the Los Angeles municipal government as described by a former deputy mayor: “Every seat is equipped with a brake, so lots of people can stop the bus anytime. The problem is that this makes the bus undrivable.”

And hey, right on time, here’s a poll at USA Today suggesting most Americans believe Democrats “should suspend work on the health care bill that has been on the verge of passage and consider alternatives that would draw more Republican support.” You can imagine how that‘s gonna go. (“How about if we–” “No.” “Well, what about –” “A moron says what?”)

Forget health care, folks. Also forget campaign finance reform, and anything else that might change America’s quality of life and balance of power (at present, 100-0 in favor of people with money vs. people without). The brief window of opportunity presented by the imminent collapse of the banking system last year has closed; the banks are now doing fine and the Hope and Change routine is no longer required.

Prepare yourself for a Free Aspirin for Seniors bill and try to find some way to get France to admit you as a guest worker. And remember: just having the most points doesn’t mean much of anything when the game is rigged.


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