How About Strident Action On Behalf Of Democrats?

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 13:59


So, Senate Democrats have threatened to block Roland Burris from being seated in the Senate. As I, and several others, have noted recently, this level of aggressive action is in direct contradiction with past timidity. It is also quite a contrast to their public statements on Al Franken (emphasis mine):

The top Senate Republican said his caucus would block any attempt to seat Democrat Al Franken until an anticipated court case over Minnesota's close election is finished and an official election certificate is conferred.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn said Friday that Republicans would object to seating the race leader Franken sooner. A filibuster would require 60 votes to break - a few more than Democrats currently hold in Washington. (...)

Senate Democrats have not indicated what they would do if Franken's lead over Coleman holds up after the recount ends.

So, Senate Democrats will take aggressive action to deny a Democrat from being seated, but not take aggressive action to seat a Democrat. To paraphrase Lisa Simpson, their paper-thin commitment to legally appointed and legally elected Democrats--especially when considered in contrast to their commitment to Lieberman--sends a shiver down my spine.

Chris Bowers :: How About Strident Action On Behalf Of Democrats?

Tags: , , , , , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email

No kiddin'... (4.00 / 1)
I'm worried about Al Franken getting seated once he wins the MN-SEN recount.  The Democrats, led by the pusillanimous Harry Reid, always stand up to fellow Dems, but never stand up to Republicans.  And Republicans are promising to fight if Franken wins the recount.

http://www.mnprogressiveproject.com/diary/2391/will-harry-grow-a-spine-in-time


So, what's your gameplan, Chris? (0.00 / 0)
What do you want Reid to do?


REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


One possibility (0.00 / 0)
Announce that Franken will be seated, provisionally if need be, once his victory is certified by the state.  

[ Parent ]
Well, apprently, they can filibuster that... (0.00 / 0)
...so, then what?

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
The 'nuclear' option (0.00 / 0)
Here's the deal -- we throw the 'Bush rules' right back at 'em. They try and destroy the institution every time it suits their purposes, so they need to be hoisted on their own petard. Either there are one set of rules, or there aren't.

Have the Majority Leader declare that rulings on seating Senators are not subject to filibuster, but only by majority vote. And then vote to seat Franken and not to seat Burris.

Just kidding! This is Harry Reid we're talking about!


[ Parent ]
The nuclear option (0.00 / 0)
is a good idea in general. The filibuster needs to be abolished, and if we didn't have Philippe Pétain, I'm sorry Harry Reid as the majority leader, it would be the first thing on the Democrats' agenda, and we would never have to worry about this 60-vote nonsense again.  

[ Parent ]
WE thought the filibuster was a pretty good thing... (4.00 / 1)
...when we were in the minority...

We get mad at some stuff that got passed, but we managed to block a lot of really, really bad bills... some health care bills that were awful, and a bill outlawing network neutrality on the Internet, for example...

Everyone wants to get rid of the filibuster when they are in the majority, but majorities are fleeting...  

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
This is the whole point (0.00 / 0)
They NEVER play by the same rules we do.

I believe the filibuster is an important tool that should rarely be used to stop horrible legislation from passing. I do believe that there are advantages to having one of the two legislative bodies being the brakes to the process, to ensure that bad legislation is improved.

I also believe the 'nuclear option' is a load of crap -- it is a tyranny of the majority, that breaks institutional mores for the sole purpose of flexing majority muscles.

But I am unwilling to forget and forgive how the Republicans operated in bad faith again and again and again, to prolong an unnecessary, unjust, and illegal war; to spy illegally on Americans and indemnify the lawbreakers; to enable and then indemnify torture and other illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral acts; to confirm patently unqualified judges; and on and on and on.

If Harry Reid had any kind of gumption, he'd throw their book right back at them and use that as a starting point for negotiations to sketch out some crucial rules for a much smaller minority party. If they are going to do nothing but obstruct, then there will be consequences.

That's life in a democracy, if Senate Democrats had any heart/brains/balls/soul/whathaveyou.  


[ Parent ]
The nuclear option (4.00 / 1)
is the only way the filibuster could possibly be done away with. Otherwise you need just as many votes as you would to break a filibuster, which obviously you're not going to have.

I have no problem with the nuclear option. It's the only way. And even as a matter of principle it doesn't seem problematic. Senate precedent means nothing to me, or anyone else outside of the Senate. The Constitution provides that a bill passes when a majority of the Senate votes in favor of it; if the Republicans insist on using the filibuster on a regular basis, that will have the practical effect of requiring a 3/5 supermajority just to pass legislation, which is contrary to the Constitution.  


[ Parent ]
I don't like it on general principle (0.00 / 0)
It simply shouldn't take a 3/5 majority to pass a piece of legislation. I don't blame the Republicans for taking advantage of the rules to block legislation they don't like, and I didn't blame the Democrats for doing it when they were in the minority. But that doesn't change the fact that there is no justification for the filibuster. The electorate voted in a Democratic president and a Democratic congress because they wanted Democratic legislation enacted. There's no reason to let 41 minority-party senators throw a monkey wrench into that agenda.

Besides, we're in the majority now. There's no logical inconsistency in supporting the filibuster in 2005 and opposing it in 2009. In 2005 it was an asset for the progressive agenda; in 2009 it is an obstacle. So get rid of it.

Majorities are fleeting, yes. But the filibuster only really matters when the other party controls Congress and the White House, and it might be quite some time before the GOP gets both of those back. Before 2002 (or 2000 if you count the pre-Jeffords tie), the Republicans hadn't controlled the White House and both houses of Congress for almost fifty years. Who knows when the next time will be; it could easily be another fifty years. I don't see the logic in permitting the continued existence of the filibuster just because at some point in the future, possibly not for decades to come, it might come in handy.


[ Parent ]
Then (4.00 / 1)
they're fucked, I guess.

I don't know that the GOP could, or would, muster a filibuster to keep out a candidate that is almost certainly going to end up winning. Surely they see the writing on the wall here even if Norm doesn't.

We tend to leave in fear of the filibuster, but I wonder how often we will actually see it.


[ Parent ]
It's Club-Based Politics (4.00 / 1)
Burris isn't part of the club, and Blago definitely isn't part of the club (the more sleeze of their own they have to hide, the less tolerance they have for someone else's), so they'll take a hard line against them.

McConnel's part of the club, too.  So if he's going to throw a hissy fit, they'll just go along with him and make him happy.

And Lieberman, of course, well, he's king of the club. Or mascot.  Spirit made flesh. Whatever.

Versailles.

Versailles.

Versailles.

Conservatives, of course, have their priorities straight: the only club that matters to them is their own. Senate, schmenate.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


Obviously it's too late now... (0.00 / 0)
But is there anything anyone could do to make Harry Reid NOT the Majority Leader?

[ Parent ]
Filibuster (0.00 / 0)
Not that it matters much, but since it looks likely that the Senate seat for Illinois will be vacant, there will be only 98 senators, meaning invoking cloture would require 59 votes, not 60.

So we'd be 2 down, instead of 1 down, right? n/t (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
No change, really (0.00 / 0)
Assuming the Illinois seat if filled would be filled by a Democrat and that all Democrats would vote together, it makes no difference. Whether we need 59 votes excluding Illinois or 60 votes including Illinois, we'd need the same number of Republicans to go along.

[ Parent ]
I thought the number was fixed? (0.00 / 0)
That it was 60 no matter what?

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
No (4.00 / 1)
It's "three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn" -- that's 59.4 (meaning 60) when there are 99 senators and 58.8 (meaning 59) when there are 98. It doesn't matter how many senators are present or voting, but seats that are vacant are not counted.

[ Parent ]
Great to know! (0.00 / 0)
Thanks!  That eases my mind quite a bit!

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
Equivalency? (4.00 / 1)
I certainly understand the temptation to set up a neat dramatic contradiction with the two cases. Nice little literary conceit, but it doesn't work as reality. Do you really think Dems can afford to fight for a senator appointed by an indicted criminal? Is that what you'd do, Chris? Great way to start the new era by becoming the poster boy for the Corruption Party. At the very least they have to make a lot of noise, which is one thing they're very good at.

As to Franken, I don't see anything in the quote that says the Dems won't try to get him seated, or that they won't maneuver to defeat a filibuster. We'll see. There is no question that he'll get seated (assuming he wins the recount), possibly after legal roadblocks that the Dems have no control over. In the meantime it seems to me there are so many more significant disappointments (like Gates and C Kennedy) to complain about.


Thank you for that! (0.00 / 0)
Everyone is so eager to embrace Blago's pawn, completely ignoring the severely negative political implications of doing so.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
Chris - Could you post on Kos on this issue? (4.00 / 1)
The Kos frontpagers have repeatedly attacked Burris personally and gotten into a snit about the appearances (because right now we have a Governor who is doing his job who is not even indicted yet).  Burris is likely not much of a progressive (he is an Illinois pol) but the odds are that he would be a reliable vote.  And right now there are excellent ideas and proposals in the hopper to move our country forward.  We just need the legislative and executive action to get it done.  Yeah Burris did not emerge on a bed of sea foam from a beautiful bivalve but the process that has gotten him to the door of the Senate is lawful.  I think Obama's statement in support of Senate purity earlier this week was not one of the team's better steps.  Well they can always count on Durbin doing the big flip flop and walking Burris onto the floor of the Senate (after all he wet kissed Lieberman after saying Lieberman had a to pay a price).


The support for Burris here is surprising... (0.00 / 0)
...he is political poison of the worst degree... not him, personally, but the seat itself is poisonous until the person who sold it is gone.

Embracing Burris means headlines of, "Dems Embrace Corruption" for months in every newspaper and news story out there.

Senate democrats have to at the very least feign resistance to this tainted pick.

I don't see why so few people understand that...  Seating him graciously is only going to make the political fallout worse not better.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
There is no evidence Burris bought the seat (0.00 / 0)
The headlines could go either way depending on the outcome.  The headlines from Senate refusal to seat Burris may be worse.  The Democrats in Illinois are screwed anyway because the governor is not going to go away quietly (well duh) so as with the republicans 6 years ago we will be stuck with a Democratic governor who professes his innocence and tarnishes the party.  I think the gist of the postings here is why are Demcorats in the Senate taking a stand on this when they have been milquetoast on a host of substantive issues including it appears seating Franken.

[ Parent ]
I appreciate that... (0.00 / 0)
...the question is how to get out of the mess... The best option I see is to fight the appointment and then lose the battle graciously.  That way all bases are covered.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
Trapper John did the deed on Kos (4.00 / 1)
no intervention by credible bloggers necessary on DailyKos to make the argument that maybe Burris should just be seated even if in theory the Senate can prevent this or expel him.

[ Parent ]
ItI'm not sure they should say anything strong (0.00 / 0)
Senate Democrats spoke out in the Illinois case in an attempt to influence Blago and dissuade him from offering up a tainted appointment.  Now, they have to follow through on their threat.  (We'll see if that happens or if they back down.)  

In the case of Minnesota, they don't need to say anything unless what they say influences the speed and direction of certification of the election or the outcome of the court case.  Should Democrats be seen as trying to influence either of those?  This doesn't feel like a spot that requires public yapping for the sake of being seen yapping.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


Opposing Burris does not equal opposing Democrats (0.00 / 0)
They are opposing Burris simply because it is in their interest to get as much distance as possible from Blago.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the willingness to stand up against fellow Democrats.  Blago doesn't even count as a Democract any more, for all intents and purposes.


Strident, Action and Democrats... (0.00 / 0)
Which word doesn't belong??

Democratic cowardice and pandering has been rewarded by the now right leaning Obama.

Franken will replace the mealy mouth Salazar, and add to the same old hard line foreign policies pushed by the rest of the right-leaning Dems, now empowered by Obama's new best buddies Lieberman and Clinton.

The Democrats have sunk to less than sheep.  And as Lebanon  was destroyed under their control, Palestine is being now brutalized beyond recognition, while all the Democrats continue to have their hands and heads up AIPACS ass.

Just take your petty stimulus dollars, and pretend you don't know that Israeli children are better educated than yours, paid in full with your money.
 

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.


USER MENU

Open Left Campaigns

SEARCH

   

Advanced Search

QUICK HITS
STATE BLOGS
Powered by: SoapBlox