Jonathon Cohn at The New Republic points out the extreme and unusual ways the Republicans have been working to stop the majority party from doing what it was elected to do. There has been a history in Congress that certain rules were used sparingly and only in rare circumstances. No more.
- The Senate minority always could filibuster every vote and kill anything that did not have a supermajority. But before now this has never been done. Now the Republicans are setting records for the number of filibusters they conduct.
- The Senate hold has always been a tool that the minority party could use to shut down the process of the Senate, but it was used only in rare cases when a Senator had a really important issue he or she wanted the Senate to attend to. Never before has a Senator used a blanket hold on all appointments to demand $billions in ransom be given to his state as Sen. Richard Shelby is now doing.
- It has always been possible for Senators and Representatives to pass a bill through both bodies, then take it into conference add completely new provisions to the bill in conference. This was frequently done when the Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate under the Bush regime.
So what indications are there that the Republicans feel attacked and afraid? Marcos Moulitsas commissioned a Daily Kos/Research 2000 Poll to answer some of those questions. It was conducted January 20, 2011, so it provides the latest information. The results are illuminating.