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Tilting at Windmills

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April 6, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

NOT AS LAME AS YOU THINK....For the past two weeks Harry Reid has been insisting that Bill Frist allow an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor for the relatively liberal immigration bill reported out of the Judiciary Committee back in March. Frist and his fellow Republicans, outraged over Reid's parliamentary tactics, have spent that entire time pounding on the table and labeling Reid as yes, you guessed it an obstructionist.

Today Reid lost his bid to force a floor vote on the Judiciary proposal. But guess what? Minority parties rarely win procedural votes, and by hanging tough Reid did force Frist to accept a compromise proposal. It might not be the greatest compromise in the world, but as recently as a year ago most observers wouldn't have credited the Democrats with the moxie to win even this much.

But as Amy Sullivan points out in "Not As Lame As You Think," our cover story this month, Democrats have actually been surprisingly united and effective over the past year despite their minority status and the media's insistence on pushing their favored storyline of Dems as hopelessly divided and timid. The reality is that the sell-by date on that storyline expired long ago.

Consider. Democrats successfully killed a Social Security privatization plan that nearly everyone thought was a lock for passage. Harry Reid forced the Intelligence Committee to investigate prewar intelligence by shutting down the Senate. Nancy Pelosi worked shrewdly with Jack Murtha to give him the maximum possible attention for his pro-withdrawal message. (Yes, really.) George Miller single-handedly forced George Bush to rescind his suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act following Hurricane Katrina. And Chuck Schumer was the driving force behind criticism of the Dubai port deal.

So why don't Democrats get more credit? Louise Slaughter, a feisty Democrat who led the opposition to Ethics Committee rule changes last year, blames it on journalists who simply refuse to abandon their favored narratives:

When reporters do write about Democratic victories, they often omit the protagonists from the story completely, leaving readers to wonder why Republicans would change course out of the blue. A Washington Post article about the Ethics Committee rule change simply noted that House Republicans overwhelmingly agreed to rescind rule changes, in the face, apparently, of phantom opposition. Or journalists give credit to maverick Republicans rather than acknowledge the success of a unified Democratic effort: The Associated Press covered Bush's reversal on Davis-Bacon by writing, The White House promised to restore the 74-year-old Davis-Bacon prevailing wage protection on Nov. 8, following a meeting between chief of staff Andrew Card and a caucus of pro-labor Republicans. Or Bush is blamed for his own defeats, without any mention of an opposition effort, as with Social Security privatization.

I have my doubts that the 2006 Democrats are really the equivalent of the 1994 Republicans, as Amy implies. More like the 1946 Republicans, I'd guess. But I do think she may be right about the imminent collapse of the media narrative of Dem fecklessness and disarray. There seems to be a tipping point to these kinds of storylines, where they hold firm seemingly forever until suddenly everyone discovers all at once that they haven't been true for quite a while. Given the changes on the ground, this particular storyline shouldn't have much longer to live.

Kevin Drum 1:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (63)

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Comments

I heard a tapped segment on NPR where McCain says he opposed cloture, not because he wasnt for the bill since he was, not because he thought amendments would help, but apparently ONLY because it was a Democrat who sponsored the motion.

I couldnt find it on the internet. Is it just me or does see sound like puting partisan procedural hackery over helping the American people?

Posted by: Catch22 on April 6, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

...blames it on journalists who simply refuse to abandon their favored narratives..

That's you Amy with all your fulminations about the supposed anti-religious bias among the Democrats.

Posted by: lib on April 6, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

And Chuck Schumer was the driving force behind criticism of the Dubai port deal.

But would it have made any traction -- or got any media coverage at all -- if not for the Republicans who screamed about the deal??

Posted by: Grumpy on April 6, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Well, when the media folks DO change their narrative, you can bet they'll present it as a change in the Democrats they discovered themselves and attribute it to their outstanding investigative skills.

Posted by: Taobhan on April 6, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin we, the blogosphere killed the Social Security plan. Without Josh Marshall and the online ability to organized protests, pack the Social Security Bamboolzepalooza tour, and diseminate information on the horrible plan would resistance have been as effective?

Sure Dems finally took the lead on that, but not until we had led the charge.

Posted by: MNPundit on April 6, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Don't be so sure about the Washington Journalists - that might mean admitting that they were wrong.

They still print all those "liberal" war hawks new opinions on what we should do in Iraq. They still print Buhmiller and the rest 'tough' president stories. They still generally fawn over Delay and McCain.

And too many democrats still advocate compromising on basic Democratic values (abortion right in Pennsylvania for example..)

Remember too - 1994 came as a complete shock to the DC establishment despite a stream of national polls beforehand showing the GOP in the lead.

Data Free Analysis (DFA) is a hard habit for a lot of DC journalists to break.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 6, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum is desperate for Reid to become some powerful figure who can oppose Bush and lead the Dems out of their wilderness.

I understand Drum's eagerness to beleive Reid is the man.

But please, get real.

Reid has has seen 2 conservatives ascend to the Supreme Court and he is an irrelevant figure on the Iraq war. As Senate Majority leader, his party LOST Senate seats in 2004. He is a physically unimpressive man, often speaking in a whisper. Just a few weeks ago, he bragged that he "killed the Patriot Act."

Face it: Harry Reid is a lightweight.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 6, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the compromise, anyone care to hazard a guess on:

1. How many more illegal aliens will come here to take advantage of it.

2. How much more political power the "compromise" will give the Mexican government inside our country.

3. How many more illegal aliens will march in our streets demanding rights to which they aren't entitled? If we don't give them what they want, what happens?

4. Won't many voters see the Senate's "compromise" as a capitulation to the demands of foreign citizens?

For those that haven't seen it, here's Reid's immigration position from 1993. There are more quotes from him here, including the news that he reintroduced the bill that he now renounces seven months later.

Nowadays, Harry Reid supports illegal immigration, even when by so doing he ends up greatly harming American citizens and assisting Bush, connected contractors, and the government of Mexico in the process.

Posted by: TLB on April 6, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Accepting their permanent position as Minority party. You are right that for too long the Democratic party has been working under the same assumptions they had when they had the majority. Now that they have totally given up hope on the house and only hope to gain enough in the senate to get some notice, I believe they will do much better. After all the minority of americans agree with them and have accepted the fact that the democratic party will only splinter or remain solid as a minority.

Posted by: daveyo on April 6, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Frequency!

Posted by: craigie on April 6, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans, outraged over Reid's parliamentary tactics, have spent that entire time pounding on the table and labeling Reid as yes, you guessed it an obstructionist.

Democrats successfully killed a Social Security privatization plan that nearly everyone thought was a lock for passage. Harry Reid forced the Intelligence Committee to investigate prewar intelligence by shutting down the Senate. Nancy Pelosi worked shrewdly with Jack Murtha to give him the maximum possible attention for his pro-withdrawal message. George Miller single-handedly forced George Bush to rescind his suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act following Hurricane Katrina. And Chuck Schumer was the driving force behind criticism of the Dubai port deal

And this list of "accomplishments" is supposed to mean that the Democrats are not correctly labelled obstructionists????

What do you mean Kevin?

Posted by: John Hansen on April 6, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency nailed it.

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Don't be so sure about the Washington Journalists ... They still generally fawn over Delay and McCain.

You mean like "Hardball" Chris Matthews, in this exchange with Tom DeLay?


Posted by: Alf on April 6, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Consider. Democrats successfully killed a Social Security privatization plan that nearly everyone thought was a lock for passage."

'Everyone' thought it was a lock? No revisionist history here - look that way!

What are you smoking, Kevin? 'Everyone' actually thought it was a bold move destined to fail and eat up Bush's 'political capital' - you're off the reservation here, my friend.

"Harry Reid forced the Intelligence Committee to investigate prewar intelligence by shutting down the Senate."

And nothing happened, and no one was shown to have falsified intelligence, and things got back to normal real quick and this whole incident now is not but a blip on the radar. Kevin calls this a victory? Methinks he hit the medical marijuana dispensary early this morning ...

"Nancy Pelosi worked shrewdly with Jack Murtha to give him the maximum possible attention for his pro-withdrawal message."

And a vote was held and his position (admittedly misrepresented) suffered a most humiliating defeat. If this is a victory what does defeat look like?

And Kevin uses the name Pelosi and 'shrewdly' in the same sentence? I think even he laughed as he wrote that line.

"So why don't Democrats get more credit?"

Kevin - the things I snipped above are not examples of Democrats' success, they are examples of failures. And yes, we DO give the dems credit for these failures.

Posted by: sunbeltjerry on April 6, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Yesterday on my ride home I was listening to NPR, and the announcer (a woman) said something like, "In the immigration debate the conservatives don't want anything to do with amnesty, but moderate Republicans are willing to create a guest worker program." She then introduced a commentator who spoke about how we should be thinking illegal immigrants.

Nowhere did the fact that Democrats exist or have a say in this issue come up. NPR: your liberal bulwark.

Posted by: Nathan Rudy on April 6, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

This is why right leaning independents even if they are not happy with the Repubs will not change to vote for Democrats. Their best accomplishments are listed as not letting the other agenda going forward. Maybe it would be nice to see some forward looking positive agenda form the Dems. Oh, I forgot, they're still working on it.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 6, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

When you're the minority in every branch of government, John Hansen, it seems obvious that stopping awful legislation etc. is the really the best you can hope for.

Posted by: es on April 6, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

What killed Bush's social security reform was not Dem opposition, but strong opposition from the constituents of Republican members. People were outraged in the reddest of red states. The proposal was a loser.

Reid's shutdown helped with morale, but the investigation of pre-war intelligence hasn't happened, only a promise to do it has happened.

Blocking Bush from suspending Davis-Bacon was a victory, but Davis-Bacon has been effectively bypassed anyway, with contractors hiring subcontractors, and sub-subcontractors with illegal aliens at the bottom of the pyramid, getting less than "prevailing wage".

Schumer's opposition to Dubai was irrelevant; the right hated it, Lou Dobbs campaigned against it, an all-Republican congress would have defeated it.

Democratic fecklessness is, unfortunately, for real, although there are effective Democrats out there, one of whom is Louise Slaughter. It's true that Dems don't get enough credit when they do something right, but it is also true that the stories of Dem disunity and fecklessness are based on something real.

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 6, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

thanks, es, for saving me the trouble of making such an obvious point.

although, even when the Dems attempt some political showmanship, i.e. the unveiling of their national security agenda, it barely registers a blip on the media's radar. i guess that would be the same liberal media just dying to tear Bush down at every opportunity?

Posted by: beefcake blogger on April 6, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Nice article, Amy, but did you not read Lakoff's book? You know, where he points out that if you say "don't think of an elephant" the first thing you'll think of is an elephant?

If you don't want people to associated Democrats with being lame, "Not as Lame as You Think" was probably not the best title choice.

Posted by: moderleft on April 6, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

"He is a physically unimpressive man, often speaking in a whisper." Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 6, 2006 at 2:06 PM

This reminds me of the great SNL political ads around the time of Bush vs. Dukakis:

"George Bush: he's taller."

"I am the son of Greek immigrants. My parents were little people - little swarthy people."

Posted by: Uli Kunkel on April 6, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

If an amnesia victim read the wingnuts' triumphalist posts here he would think that GWB won 2004 with 95% of the votes.

Posted by: lib on April 6, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Louise Slaughter . . . blames it on journalists who simply refuse to abandon their favored narratives.

The time approaches (if it's not already here) when Republicans will experience the frustration of hearing over and over, the same negative criticisms from our lazy, terrified-to-be-out-of-lockstep "journalists." For four years Bush could do no wrong in the eyes of the mainstream media. From my point of view, he jumped the shark with the media when he tried to dismantle Social Security, although I think Iraq would have resulted in his fall by now anyway. Now Bush can do no right, and don't expect to hear good things about him from the media. Things will generally be slanted against him. Will the negativity spread to the rest of the Republican party? We shall see.

I think we've seen that in response to the speeding up of global communications, "journalists" are thinking more slowly than ever. They act like a gang of rowers chained in a galley. It takes a lot of whipping to get them to turn the boat, and turning is a long process, but once it's turned, it will take just as long for them to take another direction.

Posted by: cowalker on April 6, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Encouraging, but not convincing. Congressional dems are still light years behind the grass roots on every single issue and still several species away from the ball-chewing pit bulls they need to be. In my own congressional district, where a veteran is challenging the 6-term repug incumbent, the democratic candidate has had to fire -for gross incompetence - not one but TWO campaign teams Emmanuel sent him from D.C. Now he has a local in charge, and is doing great. Send money, Rahm, but keep yer mitts off our campaigns.

Posted by: yellowdog on April 6, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

It feels like the twilight zone here. Is there any democrats that believe that Reid is doing a good job. Is there any d's that think they will take back the house or senate in 2006? If all of the pols from these journalist you are quoting are correct, why is it not an easy to win the election?

Posted by: daveyo on April 6, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

The MSM-herd is hard to move, but when it does, look out for the stampede.

Again--it's all in the framing. "Obstructionist" is a negative frame. "Protector" a positive one.

Did Reid & the Dems "obstruct" Social Security "reform" or "protect" Social Security from being "gutted?"

Aside from how you frame it, all Dems will agree the result was good and most Republican'ts will decry it.

I think in these days of slick politicians with plastic hair, Harry Reid is a breath of fresh air.

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 6, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Reid didn't lose anything on the immigration bill. Frist's compromise is a compromise in name only. It's really a craven capitulation.

Posted by: Derek Copold on April 6, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

One strong point about the immigration snarl: Frist tried to get a bit too smooth, with his strategy that unless the Judiciary Committee came up with a comprehensive bill with a majority of committee Republicans on board, he'd move his own enforcement-only bill.

There are a million things to criticize in the Judiciary Committee bill -- but it IS a real piece of legislation, and if it ever gets voted on by the full Senate, it will pass easily.

Likewise, the Hagel-Martinez substitute could pass -- hell, it might get 85 or 90 votes.

THAT is the Republican dilemma. First with Frist with the Judiciary Committee, then with the Speaker's strategy that only bills which have a majority of Republicans for 'em get floor votes: the Republican Party in Congress has announced that it is not trying to govern the nation (as a majority party ought to be able to do, after all, they won the elections), but rather elected Republicans are running the government by trying to govern their PARTY.

Which "We, the People" did not elect 'em to do.

That's what's behind the odd spectacle of the Senate Majority Leader contemplating a filibuster, etc.

Look, if the Senate can vote for a bill (like the Hagel substitute, as amended, if it gets that far) by an overwhelming majority, THEN IT DESERVES A VOTE IN THE HOUSE.

No place in the Constitution is it written that the majority party can prevent legislation that has the near unanimous support of the minority party, as well as enough votes from the majority to pass easily: that's not what the House of REPRESENTATIVES was created to do, to block the will of the people's reps.

A republic with two parties is famously a dynamic of thirds: a third always supports one side, another third the other, and what makes the difference is what happens to the remaining third.

On THESE issues, just now, a group of mostly Democrats and key Republicans have carved out their half in the middle.

If the House won't vote on it, that's NOT Democratic obstructionism.

Posted by: theAmericanist on April 6, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

The blurb in the article on the relationship between Nancy Pelosi and Jack Murtha's original announcement makes me wonder about another part in all of this, namely that we are starting to see disadvantages for the Republicans in their no-holds-barred approach to running Congress. For example, when the Republican leadership forced a snap vote on Murtha's proposed bill calling for troops to leave immediately, they put forward a comically simplistic version, which made it easy for both parties to oppose. If they had instead voted on Murtha's actual proposal instead of resorting to cheap theatrics, this would have put the Democrats in a bind as far as whether to support it at that early stage in the withdrawal/redeployment debate, which would have undercut Pelosi's apparent strategy. But cheap theatrics seemed to be the obvious immediate strategy, since that's largely what they've been doing for years.

Although a more obvious example of the disadvantages of the Republican strategy would probably be the fact that Frist's "leadership" has made him that much easier for moderates to oppose in the Senate, and thus we have the curretn state where Frist seems to have lost control.

Posted by: msmackle on April 6, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist I agree with you and you make a very strong point. I would point out that the art of filibuster has been a growing one on both sides of the isle. The majority want to vote on an issue or judge, or nominee but one holds the whole process up. I believe there is something in the news about holding up a vote unless the levee issue in Louisiana is addressed. Is this on the same level as you are refering?

Posted by: daveyo on April 6, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

One last point: an earlier commenter mentioned that Reid was a pathetic leader in part because as Senate minority leader in 2004 his party lost seats. I think this ignores the existence of one Mr. Daschle in this narrative.

Posted by: msmackle on April 6, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know that what Rep. Slaughter says is totally true, but I think that it is part of what is going on. The typical narrative that the press sticks to is easy. They don't have to do as much digging. They just start their investigation/research based on the narrative that is popular and everything else flows from that and is tainted with it. They don't want to change the current narrative because it means that some of the assumptions they have made are wrong and consequently the tone and content of their stories is also wrong to some degree and has been for some time. I don't know if it is totally conscious but I do think it is there.

Posted by: ET on April 6, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Who exactly on television is going to start talking about how successful and organized the Democrats are? O'Reilly? Hannity? Scarborough? Matthews? Buchanan? McCain? Russert? Snow? Gibson? Kondracke? Wallace?

Posted by: reino on April 6, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Now if only the Senators had stood up to BUsh on his Supreme Court nominations...

Posted by: A Hermit on April 6, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Harry Reid forced the Intelligence Committee to investigate prewar intelligence by shutting down the Senate.

Did he? If that investigation went ahead we sure haven't heard about it.

Posted by: Tim F on April 6, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it is thanks in part to the liberal blogosphere that Bush's Social Security "reform" never got off the ground. Special thanks to Kevin Drum who did a very good job explaining the inconsistencies and hypocracy of the privatizers' arguments. But remember, the mainstream media, with a few notable exceptions, pretty much bought into the Bush team framing of the problem (as they also did during the 2000 election campaign). There was a period of a few months last year when the Dems were being pushed to meet the Bush team halfway and it is to their credit that they didn't, for two reasons: the Bush team were completely dishonest in their framing of the problem and no one has ever met George W. Bush halfway, he's almost always a "his way or the highway" kind of guy.
So, we may never know how close we got to going down the path to trashing social security. But it could have happened. If you doubt that, I have 4 four words for you: Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

Posted by: ralph on April 6, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, love the cheap personal shot at Reid from frequency and the applause from a few our right wing guests. This is suppposed to represent the return of honor?

Second, right on in the frame of protector rather than obstructionist. Excellent point. The Democrats are protecting Social Security, protecting our rights, protecting our fiscal integrity. Excellent frame.

And seriously if we all look back at the last five years, don't we really wish that the Democrats had "obstructed" the tax cuts, the war in Iraq, and the Medicare bill? Because right now, the Democrats might just use the phrase:

"Our first goal of government is to try and stop the Republicans from doing stupid things." or

Vote - democrat! At least we're not completely crazy. Craven, wishy washy, not good on TV, maybe. But at least not competely crazy or corrupt."

Might work.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 6, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

I think some are failing to understand what a win is when you are the minority party. Basically, all you can do is make the majority party look bad. That's it. That's your goal while maybe sneaking in a few compromise bills so not to appear as obstructionists. In that regard, Reid's part of the Senate has done a pretty good job. The Republicans looks mostly incompentant and often stupid running the nation. Most of that is probably of their own doing because they follow a mostly crackpot ideology that has slogan support but very little substative support, but Democratic leaders should get some credit.

I think Reid has done well and we'd all be wise to remember that the netroot liberals like myself play an important role, but are really quite out of touch with most Americans so it's probably best that we aren't running strategy, just influencing it. We are in the midst of a gradual turn of conventional wisdom concerning the political landscape, mostly in the Democrat's favor. Democrats will be the reformers and the party that controls the deficit. Democrats will be the party of smart diplomacy and the solver of domestic problems. The Republicans have played their cards while in power (tax cuts, silly wars, anti-science, anti-sex) and it has failed miserably. People are and will notice and Reid is doing a decent job of shepherding that transition.

I get the feeling that some posters just like to be crabby.

Posted by: kj on April 6, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

msmackle, you're clearly too hung up on facts. Frequency Kenneth is part of the Republican world, where talking points make their own reality. Facts are for the French and other wimps.

Posted by: KCinDC on April 6, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

"As Senate Majority leader"

If the sight of the freeper trash jerking each off, above, wasn't enough to convince you of their mild to moderate mental retardation, one of the looney-tunes thought Sen. Reid was the Majority Leader. Is there any reason why anyone should listen to anything that people so pathetically dimwitted have to say?

Posted by: solar on April 6, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I agree that Democrats aren't as lame as people think.

But they are lame.

They simply have lost out on too many opportunities, and failed to make their case in too many instances, for them to be considered unlame.

They still don't know what to do about the censure resolution. They don't have any consistent message on Iran, the next big item on the national security docket. They can't seem to take on Bush in terms of his assertion of dictatorial powers and turn it against him, and against those who support him. Once in a while, they can take another weak, foolish lob from the Republicans and hit an overhead smash; but just as often they just pat a lazy lob right back.

Democrats at their best seem never to rise above utter mediocrity at politics. Democrats are really as bad at politics as the Republicans are at governance.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 6, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree completely. Democrats appear feckless because they dream *NOT* of inspiring ordinary moderate America to vote in confidence for the Democratic ticket, but of incumbency protected majority status a la the Party Machine of the good-ole-days. So while BOTH Democrats and Republicans are busy throwing red meat from their parade-float of ideology, the great big heaping mound of ordinary Americans in the middle get the nuthin more than "pick your poison".

In addition, political polarization has rotted away the idea of impartial Mainstream Media. Journalism is not "against" the minority party--nor against the majority party for that matter--but rather is there in its current form to represent the goings on of a dysfunctional Two-Party-System.

What's lame, is that people who know better could care less, because to them America a b*tch to be ridden to the high houses of power. If you think Republican Tom Delay is the only one with sharp heels and sharper ideology, you're kidding yourself.

Posted by: Jon Karak on April 6, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Harry Reid forced the Intelligence Committee to investigate prewar intelligence by shutting down the Senate.

Please. The "investigation" is at just as much of a standstill as it was before the Reid-Durbin shutdown, with the administration refusing to hand over what minimal documents Roberts has asked for, and Roberts declining to ask for three-quarters of what would be necessary to do a real investigation.

It was a nice moment, but unless Dems take further action to show how completely Roberts is giving the admin a pass on this, it was just a moment. Maybe (I'm not holding my breath) Dems will take advantage of the publicity around Libby's grand jury testimony of Bush's 'authorizing' the selective leaking of classified info in order to protect the admin lies that led to war.

Posted by: Nell on April 6, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, "journalists who simply refuse to abandon their favored narratives" has worked to the disadvantage of progressivism, liberalism, and Democrats for a very long time.

In the summer of 1980, Time had an article which included a poll showing third-party challenger John Anderson outpolling both incombent Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican Ronald Reagan. This was truly stunning — According to Time's own poll, a third-party candidate was for a time in the summer of 1980 the first choice of American voters. But Time declared that Anderson had no chance to win. Had Time departed from the favored narrative that third-party candidates never have a chance to win, and instead treated front-runner John Anderson as a co-equal candidate, and had other media also dropped their persistent bias against third parties, Anderson might have won in November 1980.

And Al Gore's reputation for exaggeration and false self-promotion was largely undeserved, but the media, including the New York Times and the Washington Post repeatedly lied about Al Gore, for example, falsely accusing Al Gore of claiming that he discovered Love Canal. No matter how often the media were informed of their errors, the lies persisted, because, Yes, "journalists simply refused to abandon their favored narratives."

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on April 6, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Even if I were willing to credit Reid and the caucus with all the achievements Sullivan lists (and I'm not; see above), all of them were turned into a handful of dust by their failure to develop and implement a real strategy for defeating the Alito nomination.

Which strategy should have included keeping DSCC-blessed Senate candidates like Bob Casey to stay the hell off the subject if they weren't going to support the caucus position.

Posted by: Nell on April 6, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

I seriously wonder how many people who post here have actually participated in county Democratic Parties. The relatively miniscule number of bloggers could not, in and of themselves, have been able to stop S.S.

The county parties and the elected Dems went on massive informational campaigns. The AARP also helped out with mailers and advertisements (for some reason, AARP seems to think I'm a senior). AARP was much, much, much ..... much more effective than bloggers. I have a rooming IP on my laptop so I probably count for 10 "unique visits" per day on blogs and I'm sure the same holds for a lot of others.

The problem with the blogosphere is that they think they have more of an influence then they do. Why not try to actually work with county Parties? That's where a lot of action gets done. Then again, with all the rude blogosphere people, the morale would probably go down if they were to participate in local parties.

And seriously, if people were to watch congress, you'd see Dems fighting and arguing and yelling every day on the floor and in committees. Just because Kos doesn't post a video doesn't mean it didn't happen!

Posted by: gq on April 6, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

One last point: an earlier commenter mentioned that Reid was a pathetic leader in part because as Senate minority leader in 2004 his party lost seats. I think this ignores the existence of one Mr. Daschle in this narrative.

News flash: Bush-followers ignorant, misinformed.

Posted by: Constantine on April 6, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Just because Kos doesn't post a video doesn't mean it didn't happen!

If a tree falls in a forest with nobody to hear it, does it make a sound?

Not if it's a political tree in a political forest.

If you don't know how to get your message out in way people can actually hear it, then you're an incompetent politician. Yelling and screaming merely in the halls of Congress or in your bathroom doesn't count.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 6, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

To FranklyO, hold on a sec. Pelosi, Reid, et al aren't simply "yelling and screaming," unlike many of us in the blogosphere. They're in the halls of Congress formulating strategy to fend off the Republican agenda and they're coordinating campaigns across the country with a media that does at times get carried away with a broken record narrative of how the Democrats are divided, etc. Let's give the Democrats on the Hill some credit for a change. I can only imagine how the blogosphere will claim credit for winning the election in November while ignoring the efforts of hardworking Democratic leaders in Congress and campaigns across the country.

Posted by: PedroDemocrat on April 6, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

PedroDemocrat,

I do give Democrats some credit for a change -- I'd grade their performance at, let's say, a Gentlemen's C.

But the point of my previous post is that the test of a competent national Party is whether they can raise the right sort of issues to work in their favor in a way that the people can actually hear -- via, one would expect, the national and/or local news, etc. A speech in Congress that is followed only on CSPAN, and has no further ramifications, is a failure in communication, pure and simple.

For example, I can tell you one way Democrats could easily command national attention. Push the censure vote as hard as they can, instead of avoiding it. It's got all the right elements. It attacks Bush without being over the top (like impeachment), it brings very embarrassing political information against Bush to the fore, and it would engender the great controversy that makes a story a natural for national TV.

So why aren't they doing so?

Because they're thinking, hmm, well, I don't know, I'm not sure about this one, what if people don't like us, hmm, jeez, can you pass the danish, please, I'm feeling hungry?

Posted by: frankly0 on April 6, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

[One last point: an earlier commenter mentioned that Reid was a pathetic leader in part because as Senate minority leader in 2004 his party lost seats. I think this ignores the existence of one Mr. Daschle in this narrative.

News flash: Bush-followers ignorant, misinformed.]

Sorry, first post here, didn't realize that inaccuracy was assumed for some.

Posted by: msmackle on April 6, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you, Uli Kunkel. You've also reminded me of another great SNL ads from that campaign:

This is the way Barbara Bush looked when George married her.

THIS IS THE WAY SHE LOOKS NOW.

Dukakis for President. His wife looks just fine.

Posted by: bri on April 6, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

If the House GOP votes down the Immigration Bill in the next few days but Democrats go on record supporting "amnesty," Rove will have his 2006 campaign issue - just as he planned it.

The Republicans are monsters and the Democrats are losers. The reputation holds because it is true.

Posted by: Blue Nomad on April 6, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

"I'd grade their performance at, let's say, a Gentlemen's C."

Well, if it was good enough for King George, it ought to be good enough for the Democratic leadership.

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 6, 2006 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

I sure hope you guys publicise these "victories" enough to help us pick off Cantwell, Menendez and maybe Bobby Byrd if he has a serious senior moment. In 1993 Reid made some interesting comments wildly at variance with this pander to the special interests. Go over to The Corner or one of the other trog sites and see how we are going to handle this filibuster to keep illegal alien felons in the country.

Posted by: minion of rove on April 6, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

Dems credit, I'd love to.

But not on Social Security -- it was the constituency that killed it -- worried old folks.

Dubai? Well there was some standdown, but the opposition came from both parties -- and besides the Dubai standfdown ain't really a done deal ....yet.

The net result on intelligernce investigations= nothing.
The net result on Murtha's proposals= nothing.

The net result of the reinstatement of the Davis-Bacon Act following Hurricane Katrina. = remains to be seen, since Republican contractors are cleaning up on trickledown contracting deals -- the contractors hire subscontractors who then contract out the work to other contractors who the use day laborers to do the work.

Meanwhile the Repubs have successfully installed a retrogressive pairs of Supremes, cut taxes for the wealthy, put together a drug plan that penalizes seniors and pays off drug companies. Not to mention wars and continuing threats of new wars.

The Repubs clearly would benefit from more political opponents like Dems.

Posted by: degustibus on April 6, 2006 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

God, I love my "not lame" party! Is there anything the Democrats have done in the past three years that couldn't have been done better if they were more courageous? Our current Democratic leadershipi is the most cowardly, indeed "lame" bunch of Democrats in my lifetime. As a class of politician, they suck. They've done nothing to inspire me since losing to Reagan in 1980. They remain the only alternative, so I remain somewhat faithful. But what an ugly bunch of losers they choose to be as a matter of neurotic habit. The lack of heart, and guts, is hard to believe.

Posted by: NealB on April 6, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems are right on a lot of these issues. And the Republicans are going to fold and flip flop on this issues. And get elected in 2006.

The Republican Party is the majority party in this country and this post is an example that finally the Dems have decided that they are the minority party. That's good for the country.

Posted by: Chad on April 6, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

"i have my doubts about whether the 2006 democrats are the equivalents of the 1994 republicans..."

or something like that,

kevin,

no american in their right mind would want any candidate - democrat or republican - in 2006 to be like the 1994 republicans.

- they were ignorant of political process in the congress of the united states

- they were dismissive of american political process.

- they were ignorant and dismissive of political history in the u.s.,

- they were intolerant and dismissive of seperation of religion and state,

an absolute standard in american politics for
200 years,

- they had no compunction about ammending the united states constitution at will for trivial matters

- they had no compunction about impeaching a president for trivial personal matters

- they were willing to ignore the rules of the house and senate at their convenience.

if there was ever a bad model to follow,

kevin,

it would be the 1994 republicans.

the 1994 republicans and

their psuedo-intellectual elfine leader

newt gingrich -

newt-the-well-named

and his contract with american

were both

public relations stunts.

triumphs of media manipulation

not triumphs of substance and caring.

and,

like his cousing goluum,

newt is coming back

searcdhing for the ring.


that's where the weblog world comes in.

Posted by: orionATL on April 6, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

>>>Vote - democrat! At least we're not completely crazy. Craven, wishy washy, not good on TV, maybe. But at least not competely crazy or corrupt."

Not corrupt? I guess not, as long as you don't count "importing votes from Mexico" as being corrupt.

By the way, approximately what percentage of the Democratic vote comes as a result of the amnestied illegal alien "US citizens" of the 1986 Immigration Reform Act? It seems that the Democrats grow their base in 20 year segments. If we legalized all of Brazil, you guys could probably win the House back.

NOTICE: Help Wanted!!! Paying $5.50/hr for assembly line workers for an automobile manufacturing company start-up in the US. I'd like to underprice GM and Ford and be competitive with the Asian cos. If no Americans are interested, don't worry, I'll simply seek cheap illegal labor. After all, the Ag. industry can't compete by using American labor, why should any industry be compelled to do so?

Posted by: junglemutt on April 6, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

If you watched Cornyn and Durbin on the NewsHour tonight you would has sworn the Democrats controlled the Senate. Same for Frist and McCain earlier in the day. The Republicans, who have the majority, are trying to give everybody the impression that they are on the outside looking in. The current meme is that the Democrats are in charge and the Republicans are being denied an opportunity to introduce amendments. The only problem is that Democrats aren't really in charge, yet.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 6, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Not as lame as you think.

But still pretty fucking lame.

Posted by: Irony Man on April 7, 2006 at 3:34 AM | PERMALINK

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