In preparing for an Oregon bloggers' "meet and greet" with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) this evening, I listened to the audio of an interview I did with then-candidate Merkley at the Democratic National Convention on August 28, 2008. His ideas on defeating Republican filibusters -- emphasizing the need to make filibusters more public, in part to enlist public support for the Democratic agenda, and in part to gain public support for changing Senate rules if obstructionism made it necessary -- were straightforward and potentially effective, but the Senate leadership certainly hasn't implemented them.
Merkley's most interesting line, given the recent effectiveness a unified Republican filibuster has had in weakening the progress of healthcare reform: "You've got to have the public behind you. If the public is behind you and the Rs persist [in filibustering], then the Democrats should very seriously consider changing the rules, because we can't allow our nation to be paralyzed by the irresponsibility of the Republican Party."
My Q&A with Merkley about the filibuster:
Merkley also said he was not alone in asking Senate leaders (ie, Reid and Schumer) to force Republican filibusters to be more public:
Of course, the Rs have "persisted" in efforts to filibuster the entire Democratic agenda. Although I expect tonight's get-together will be off the record, I'll still try to explore what Sen. Merkley thinks should be done, from the vantage point of a year in office.
Finally, for kicks, here's Candidate Merkley's judicious take on Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Vichy), who back then was supporting the Republican candidate, John McCain (and who now is responsible for killing the most progressive components of healthcare reform):