"Not only did we win but, in the end, we coasted. Although analysts, including Senators on both sides, predicted a razor thin margin on the cloture vote, it turned into a 46-53 rout."
But, as they say in sports, the game was closer than the final score indicated. The point is, once it was clear to all the senators that the YEA votes were going to fall short of the 60 needed to invoke cloture, a bunch of would-have-been-YEAs stampeded into the "NAY" column, knowing it would make them look good with the howling legions (i.e. us).
Such senators are hardly friends of ours. (However their stampede our way indicates that they're at least dimly aware of the citizenry.)
As Kate O'Beirne wrote at National Review Online's "Corner" blog shortly after the vote, citing anonymous old Senate hands, "No one wants to be one of 59 on a failed cloture vote."
Rich Lowry further fleshed out the point:
"The way the game is played is that you vote 'yes' if they need your vote, and then when it becomes clear that it's failing, you become a 'no.' That's why there were so many 'no's' by the end. But it means you were ready to go along when it really counted."
(And Lowry explains the cruciality of a Wednesday night vote on an amendment here.)
So Joe's remark about coasting to our victory could encourage fatal complacency: "Well, we needed 41 NAY votes and we got 53, so we really didn't have to melt the Senate's switchboard. We can let up next time." (Nitpicking clarification: Given the absence of South Dakota's hospitalized Senator Tim Johnson, we actually "only" needed 40 NAYs.)
In fact, every bit of our screaming may have been needed to get us to our magic 41.
As Peter Brimelow, embroiled in our civilizational fight-to-the-death since at least the early 1990s, has written, "It has been obvious for some time that this will be a long and terrible war."
So we can celebrate last week's great defensive victory, but we cannot let up. Perhaps we are at the end of the beginning.
But we still have a herculean battle ahead to actually vanquish illegal immigration. We'll reach the beginning of the end only when mass legal immigration is within our sights.
Further explanatory note on voting dynamics: If the cloture vote had gone against us big-time (e.g. 75 YEAs, 25 NAYs), we couldn't conclude from the vote that we actually had 25 hard-core friends among the senators. Some of the 25 NAYs would likely have been YEAs if they were needed to get to 60 YEAs, but those senators would have been released to vote NAY (and look good to us naive types) if their YEA votes were overkill.
Ah, yes, the "world's greatest deliberative body" ... Inspiring, no?