Republicans have been crowing this morning about Saxby Chambliss's victory in the runoff Senate election in Georgia. I suppose it's better than a sharp stick in the eye, but I'm not at all sure whether they should be so happy about a victory in a low turnout election in a red state. If Chambliss couldn't win this one, then the Republicans were no longer a viable political party. Now, don't get me wrong--dating back to the last election (he ran the Max Cleland as Saddam Hussien ad), Chambliss has established himself as one of the biggest slimeballs in politics and i wish he would have lost. But he didn't and that's that.
Happily, it also puts to rest the 60 vote mythology. In the last couple of months, the media has breathlessly reported on Democratic efforts to get to 60 votes in the Senate. That, it was claimed, would allow them to end filibusters at will and roll anything through the upper chamber. Republicans, in particular, used this as a campaign argument, falsely claiming, as Chambliss did on NPR this morning, that Barack Obama wants to take away your doctor or mess with the Second Amendment (would that he wanted to mess with the Second Amendment).
Look, while both parties are more ideologically pure than ever, there are still enough wobblers to make the 60 vote threshold meaningless. On the Democratic side, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman are likely to defect on some issues. On the Republican side, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Arlen Specter, George Voinivich and, that ol' maverick himself, John McCain, could defect to override a filibuster, depending on the issue. I'm betting none of these override votes will be solely party line votes.
So, the 60 vote thing doesn't mean much. A Republican incumbent Senator had more difficulty than he should have had winning reelection in a base state in a bad year. That's the only real story there and it's not much of a story. Although he is a pretty worthless excuse for a Senator, even by Republican standards.