Friday, September 21, 2007

Singing the Congress Blues

Since Democrats in Congress do not have sufficient courage, determination, or integrity to make cloture votes work, why not just let the Republicans filibuster?

If you were one of the Americans waiting for Congress, under Democratic control, to show leadership on the war in Iraq, the message from the Senate is clear: “Nevermind.” The same goes for those waiting for lawmakers to fix the damage done to civil liberties by six years of President Bush and a rubber-stamp Republican Congress.

The Democrats don’t have, or can’t summon, the political strength to make sure Congress does what it is supposed to do: debate profound issues like these and take a stand. The Republicans are simply not interested in a serious discussion and certainly not a vote on anything beyond Mr. Bush’s increasingly narrow agenda.

On Wednesday, the Senate failed to vote on two major bills. One would have restored basic human rights and constitutional protections to hundreds of foreigners who are in perpetual detention, without charges or trial. The other was the one measure on the conduct of the Iraq war that survived the Democrats’ hasty retreat after last week’s smoke-and-mirrors display by Gen. David Petraeus and President Bush.

There were votes, of course, but not on the bills. They were cloture votes, which require 60 or more Senators to agree to cut off debate, eliminating the possibility of a filibuster, so Senators can vote on the actual law. In both cases, Democrats were four votes short, with six Republicans daring to defy the White House.

We support the filibuster as the only way to ensure a minority in the Senate can be heard. When the cloture votes failed this week, the Democrats should have let the Republicans filibuster. Democratic leaders think that’s too risky, since Congress could look like it’s not doing anything. But it’s not doing a lot now.

Big Tent Democrat says that doing nothing is the way to go:
[...] From the NYTimes to Move On (I would have censured them for their idiotic political strategy on Iraq), there seems to be no understanding that Congress can end the Iraq Debacle BY DOING NOTHING!!

How hard is it to understand - Democrats need only say and do one thing - NO funding of the Debacle after a date certain. No funding without a timeline. Filibusters and vetoes are powerless against the Spending Power on this. Will anyone on our side ever get it? Besides Chris Dodd?

I think it's Big Tent Democrat who doesn't understand. Democrats do get it. Of course they do. Obviously, they know that the power of the purse trumps filibusters and vetoes. But knowing and doing are two different things. The problem is not that Democrats don't know what they should be doing -- the problem is that they are too terrified of the Republican minority to do it. Even when only 11% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing. Mel Martinez's approval is much more important to congressional Democrats than that of any ordinary American. Even when, like a child desperately seeking the approval of a hypercritical parent, they cannot ever be craven enough to get that Republican love.


Joan said...

Hey There!

Well, perhaps I am being too literal again, but I do not think the Democrats' problem is that they are trying to seek approval from the Republican minority. I think the problem is that they fundamentally AGREE with the Republicans. Perhaps if the Democrats retain the power of the House and get the executive they may make minor changes here and there. But when we get down to nuts and bolts, America's interest in the oil in the Middle East is far too important to let little things like human rights get in the way, and that is how BOTH parties think.

Take Care

Kathy said...

No, I don't think you're being too literal. I think you're right. I mean, I do think they are scared s**tless of being accused of "not supporting the troops," but if they truly had any underlying convictions about the war, they would not let that stop them.

So I agree with you, Joan.