Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 13, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

NYET REVISITED....Say what you will about the Republican Party's indifference to anything other than obstructing Democratic legislation (and I have), it seems to be working like a charm. Jonathan Weisman and Paul Kane report in the Washington Post:

As Congress struggles to adjourn for Christmas, relations between House Democrats and their colleagues in the Senate have devolved into finger-pointing.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) accuses Senate Democratic leaders of developing "Stockholm syndrome," showing sympathy to their Republican captors by caving in on legislation to provide middle-class tax cuts paid for with tax increases on the super-rich, tying war funding to troop withdrawal timelines, and mandating renewable energy quotas.

....Senate Democrats have fired back, accusing Pelosi and her liberal allies of sending over legislation that they know cannot pass in the Senate, and of making demands that will not gain any GOP votes. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) noted that, this summer, Reid employed just the kind of theatrics Rangel and other House Democrats are demanding, holding the Senate open all night, pulling out cots and forcing a dusk-till-dawn debate on an Iraq war withdrawal measure before a vote on war funding. Democrats gained not a single vote after the all-night antics.

"I understand the frustration; we're frustrated, too," Bayh said. "But holding a bunch of Kabuki theater doesn't get anything done."

....Republicans, who spent 12 years in similar battles, are just enjoying the spectacle.

"Just let 'em stew for a while," said soon-to-retire Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.), a veteran of the GOP's own squabbles.

This is really not a story you want to see on page A1. Yuck.

Kevin Drum 1:09 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (60)

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Comments

Thx, Kev. I'll sleep well tonight....

Posted by: Disputo on December 13, 2007 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

And these overblown politicians work for who?

Posted by: Jay in Oregon on December 13, 2007 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

Charlie Rangel is absolutely right, and Evan Bayh should try to withdraw his head from wherever it is stuck. The fact that he is "frustrated too" should not prevent him from seeing that failure to "get anything done" is not the result of kabuki theater.

With the GOP 'burn the house down' imperative, the razor-thin Democratic majority, and the Senate rules, there is no hope for much substantive legislation, but the Democratic majority in the Senate could force the Republicans to actually show their colors.

We need a lot more kabuki theater, not less. The Democrats need to force the Republicans to actually filibuster selected bills such as SCHIP and withdrawal from Iraq. Not keep the cots out for one polite night -- a real filibuster. Make them defend denying medical care for kids for a couple of weeks, 24 hours a day, with quorum calls.

If you can't get good legislation through because of GOP obstructionism, you can at least make it clear who the obstructionists are!

Evan Bayh is a wimp, and a political fool!

Posted by: ammonite on December 13, 2007 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

Cloture is a vote to end debate. If Republicans reject cloture, then have a debate. Day after day after day.

Posted by: Joe Buck on December 13, 2007 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

ammonite beat me to it, but I'll echo the point anyway:

Bayh is exactly wrong. "Holding a bunch of Kabuki theater" gets the most important thing done: it makes Republican obstruction really obvious, thus making it easier for Democrats to win future elections.

It's pretty damn simple: If you don't have enough votes now, you need to win more seats. Therefore, everything you do in the legislature should be calculated towards that end. Quietly backing down in the face of opposition is about the dumbest possible strategy.

I suppose I should be thankful that Indiana has a Democratic senator at all, but Bayh should at any rate shut the frack up and leave strategy to the smart people in the room.

Posted by: Tom on December 13, 2007 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

Bayh is exactly right. The Republican failure to work with the Democrats, their exclusionary Fight Club attitude, is exactly why the Democrats hold a majority today. Showing the Republicans as obstructionist does nothing but highlight Democratic grandstanding.

Posted by: jj mollo on December 13, 2007 at 3:01 AM | PERMALINK

Vichy Dems have failed to use the filibuster, the power of the purse and have quite insanely 'taken impeachment off the table'. They are part of the problem - the worst part in many ways as embodied by Nurse Ratched.

'Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.' - CS Lewis

Imho it's not torment watching these Vichies - its torture. Please fuck make them accountable.

Posted by: professor rat on December 13, 2007 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

The antepenultimate paragraph of the Washington Post story by Jonathan Weisman and Paul Kane:

Senate Democrats contend that their House counterparts simply do not understand the modern Senate when they badger Reid about holding all-night filibusters. In a series of 20th-century changes, Senate filibusters became a thing of the past. Rules pushed by senators seeking to pass civil rights legislation allow filibusters to be thwarted if 60 or more members vote to cut off the debate. As long as the minority party has 41 votes, it no longer has to hold the floor and talk a bill to death.
But a recurring theme on this blog is that, in fact, Senate rules do allow Majority Leader Reid to require filibusterers to actually talk, talk, talk until one side or the other concedes defeat.

Imagine there are 51 or 55 votes in the Senate to condition further funding of the war in Iraq on a timetable for withdrawal, and 45 or 49 opposed. Reid goes on TV and says something like this: "America is suffering from bleeding wounds originally and ongoingly inflicted by the Bush administration in an endless series of blunders, miscalculations, and refusals to listen to experts in the Pentagon, the Intelligence community, and non-governmental organizations with expertise in the Middle East. Senate Democrats and a few Republican allies are determined to end this nightmare. But Republican leadership insists on prolonging our agony, blah blah blah, and these Republicans have decided to grind the business of the Senate to a halt to prevent us from voting on whether to continue this nightmare or end it. I ask right-thinking and patriotic Americans, whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent, to call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, and tell your senators that it's time to end the filibuster and vote up-or-down on the ______ bill to begin to put this Iraq nightmare behind us.

And just wait as long as it takes. I believe that if the Democrats keep a daily vigil "This is the fifth day that Mitch McConnell and the obstructionist Republican minority [Insert names of Republicans running for re-election in 2008] has refused to allow the Senate to proceed with its constitutional duties to pass legislation . . ." it wouldn't take too long to shake loose nine Republicans to vote to end the filibuster. Am I dreaming?

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on December 13, 2007 at 3:16 AM | PERMALINK

Why is this the story?

Why is it A1 when Democrats are frustrated, and the article is always their fault?

Why wasn't it A1 when the Republicans filibustered S-CHIP? Or any other Republican anything?

Posted by: Crissa on December 13, 2007 at 4:19 AM | PERMALINK

To beat a filibuster does not require Republicans to 'stay up all night'.

It requires the team trying to break the filibuster to stay up all night...

And if at no point you happen to have that 60% majority, the filibuster wins.

How would that ever happen when half of the Senators aren't even Democrats?

Posted by: Crissa on December 13, 2007 at 4:22 AM | PERMALINK

I think Crissa is exactly wrong. The filibuster is used by the minority to prevent a majority vote. If they stop talking, the bill comes up for a simple majority vote.

But someone more knowledgeable please weigh in on this if I am wrong.

Posted by: wvng on December 13, 2007 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

You know, there is a simple solution. Just start blocking things the Republicans want. Like funds for the war in Iraq. Like bilateral free trade agreements.

Of course, you'd need a spine for that, because the Republicans will attack you for it.

Posted by: nanne on December 13, 2007 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

The garbage phrase in this article is:

" ....Republicans, who spent 12 years in similar battles, are just enjoying the spectacle."

When did the Republicans ever face similar problems. The blue dogs always voted with the GOP for cloture and an "uppurdown" vote on virtually everything.

Posted by: howie on December 13, 2007 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

I think a filibuster's worth a try. It requires at least one member of the R's to be talking continuously, otherwise debate is done and it is time for a vote.

And further, Reid ought to be able to cut a deal with some Republican who might plan on returning in the future -- "if your constituents expect you to deliver anything at all in 2009 and beyond..." -- because I think this kind of loyalty to war criminals deserves a little payback, don't you think?

Posted by: dr2chase on December 13, 2007 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

Looking on the bright side (of life), I see the present fighting among Democrats as a positive thing. I see this as a recognition that there are many Democrats who want to do better.

After so many years of being in the minority, and being brutally beaten every time they've raised their heads, it will take time to learn how. Doesn't mean we need to let them slide, it means we need to continually remind them what their base of support expects from them.

Assuming we keep the majority position in both houses after this next election, I suspect there will be major change in the lineup of Democratic leaders. It'll start with House and Senate leaders, and extend all the way down to leadership positions in even inor committes.

Posted by: Ron Charest on December 13, 2007 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Rangel. Didn't the Dems learn anything while out of power?

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on December 13, 2007 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

Looking on the bright side (of life), I see the present fighting among Democrats as a positive thing. I see this as a recognition that there are many Democrats who want to do better.

After so many years of being in the minority, and being brutally beaten every time they've raised their heads, it will take time to learn how. Doesn't mean we need to let them slide, it means we need to continually remind them what their base of support expects from them.

Assuming we keep the majority position in both houses after this next election, I suspect there will be major change in the lineup of Democratic leaders. It'll start with House and Senate leaders, and extend all the way down to leadership positions in even minor committes.

Posted by: Ron Charest on December 13, 2007 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

Let me see if I get this. Senator Reid tried to stand up to the Republican minority for a few hours one day and it didn't change everything? What did he expect. He has to keep saying "no" to the Republicans. He has to keep forcing them to debate forever if that's what they say they want. Right now, he's like the mother of a couple of toddlers who never says no to her kids and wonders why they misbehave in the store.

see, also, "game theory", "tit for tat"

Posted by: freelunch on December 13, 2007 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

On reflection, I agree with Ron. Hearing that House dems, including Pelosi, are frustrated with Reid's failure to make the reThugs pay a political price for their obstructionism is refreshing. And for those bashing Pelosi here (with some cause, to be sure), remember that she is widely recognized for bringing more discipline to the Dem caucus than many thought possible.

Posted by: wvng on December 13, 2007 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

Same story on the front of the WSJ this morning.

Posted by: cw on December 13, 2007 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Does no one else remember Harry Truman thundering on about the "do-nothing Republican Congress"?
If Reid would stop pretending that Senate comity exists and start lashing out at the "do-nothing dog-in-the-manger Republican minority" every time they blocked a bill he might get some face time on tv and the country might start waking up.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on December 13, 2007 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Boy, it's a good thing we kept our powder dry and didn't impeach anyone or anything. I'm sure the next year will be even more spectacular.

Hey, maybe on his last day in office when Bush rolls back every single industry regulation and issues a blanket now-then-and-forever pardon to every current and former member of his executive branch and CIA, the Democrats will pour all that powder into the sternest-worded letter of all time!

Posted by: scarshapedstar on December 13, 2007 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Don't they ever learn? Why don't they just do what the GOP did? You can't filibuster on the results of the house/senate conference committee so... Pass one bill in house. Pass another in Senate. Then send it to house senate conference where the appointees to said conference committee simply accept the house version which gets sent to both houses for up or down vote. Worked for the GOP over and over and over...

Posted by: exgop on December 13, 2007 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, wait, that's right: if we'd impeached, there'd be negative stories about how Democrats weren't getting any real work done on page 1 of the Washington Post!

It's a good thing that didn't happen!

Posted by: scarshapedstar on December 13, 2007 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

No. Actually, Crissa is exactly right. It's the same thing I point out every three weeks when Kevin ponies out this tired old story and people come here saying (and apparently thinking its original) how they need to make Republicans "carry out their filibuster."

My rule of thumb: When I see an entity doing something a certain way, maybe (particularly if you don't know anything at all about that business) I try to start by giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are not idiots and there might be some logic to why they are doing things that way. Then I ask questions to see if I think that benefit of the doubt is warranted.

As Crissa correctly points out, they don't do this type of filibuster anymore because they don't work. Acutally its worse then that. They don't work AND they destroy your own troops.

Filibusterers have to keep one just person on the floor to talk. Those trying to break the filibuster have to keep at least 50 there the entire time.

Now, how many 24-hour filibusters do you think Bob Byrd is going to be able to get through before he drops dead on the Senate floor?

Makes a nice story, though. Those dumb Senate Democrats! If they'd only listen to random posters on Washington Monthly on how to use Senate Rules and Precedents, we'd be passing legislation left and right!

Posted by: Pat on December 13, 2007 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Don't they ever learn? Why don't they just do what the GOP did? You can't filibuster on the results of the house/senate conference committee so... Pass one bill in house. Pass another in Senate. Then send it to house senate conference where the appointees to said conference committee simply accept the house version which gets sent to both houses for up or down vote. Worked for the GOP over and over and over...

Posted by: exgop on December 13, 2007 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Gee, I don't know. Maybe because the process of going to conference in the Senate requires the adoption of three separate motions all three of which are debatable? Which is precisely why Democrats have been unable to go to conference as much as they want this session, these three motions are being filibustered? And maybe because even if your scenario made any sense at all (you only go to conference on one bill) conference reports are also debatable?

No offense, but this post is the perfect example of my point. Maybe don't be so adamant in slamming Dem leadership if you clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

Posted by: Pat on December 13, 2007 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Look, yeah, the Senate caves, but so does the House -- legislation doesn't get passed without both houses. The truth is that the Republicans in the Senate are more dedicated to assuring their agenda is written into law than either the Democrats in the Senate or the Democrats in the House. If a slight minority of the Senate can make sure that the things they don't want don't pass, a bare majority of the Senate should be able to do so even more effectively, and certainly a stronger majority of the House should be able to.

But the Democrats in Congress just, frankly, don't care enough about policy to stop the Republicans. And that's why the Republicans rule from the minority.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 13, 2007 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK
Why is it A1 when Democrats are frustrated, and the article is always their fault?

Why wasn't it A1 when the Republicans filibustered S-CHIP? Or any other Republican anything?

Because the media is not, in fact, anywhere close to being liberal.

The GOP pretty much gets a free pass on their tactics, but yet when the Dems wanted to filibuster some rather heinous judicial nominations, the GOP screamed about getting rid of the filibuster all together, claiming that is was unconstitutional. For weeks the media portrayed Dems as willing to grind the gears of government to a halt.

Of course, now that the GOP is in the minority, they love them some filibusters and will obstruct more than any other Congress in the history of the nation.

And the media barely ever mentions it.

**sigh**

Posted by: Mark D on December 13, 2007 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

I yield to your greater knowledge on the subject, Pat. Maybe now you can explain why the republicans were able to do this so successfully so many times between 2002 and 2006.

Posted by: exgop on December 13, 2007 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

A lot of Democratic senators are incapable of standing up to anybody. Did you see Feinstein
the other day whining about the whistle blower the administration ordered not to show up to give testimony. This mess won't be fixed until we kick out not only a lot of Republicans but a lot of Democratic wimps as well. A lot of them are very content being pissed on by their Republican "masters." For every dominator there is a willing submissive.

Anyway I am sure that Bayh and his crowd get invited to all of the nicest Georgetown Christmas parties.

Posted by: corpus juris on December 13, 2007 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

exgop, I believe the answer to your question is because, while Democrats have occassionally in the past filibustered attempts by a Republican majority to go to conference, over the four year period you cite, they generally didn't. Nor did they filibuster many (any?) conference reports during this period. If they had, it probably would have worked, just like it is working for the GOP. They also did not have the White House during this period.

The frustrations expressed here are real. But there is no way to "force" the Senate. The machine only works if people compromise and agree. Which is why in my opinion the answer to ending gridlock is less partisanship and message politics, not more. I suspect (sadly) that the only thing that will change the present dynamic is some dire crisis, such as a terror attack, or energy crisis, something like that.

Don't blame Harry Reid. Blame the obstructionist and even the founding fathers for setting up a mechanism that was intended to make it difficult to pass legislation.

Posted by: Pat on December 13, 2007 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

AND, we're supposed to vote for DEMOCRATS, WHY??? Because they are "better than Repugs"? I'm not so sure...so what is the alternative? I realize all the CW about not having a true MAJORITY in the Senate and a tenuous one in the House...but watch out folks...with the war nearly COMPLETELY out of news reporting these days, immigration an issue that works about both sides, and the typical focus and investigative reporting of our MSM...soon the turnabout will be HUGE REPUBLICAN COMEBACK...good chance for them to retain the WH...wait and see!!!! And, will anyone actually wonder about the deal being made behind the scenes by owners of our corporate media...I DOUBT IT!!!

Posted by: Dancer on December 13, 2007 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "Say what you will about the Republican Party's indifference to anything other than obstructing Democratic legislation ... This is really not a story you want to see on page A1."

How about saying something about the Bush administration's negotiators at the Bali conference obstructing both binding commitments for rich industrial nations to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, and assistance to poor developing nations to help them adapt to the devastating climate change caused by the rich industrialized nations' emissions?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 13, 2007 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

I'm beginning to think that we no longer have
a representational government, no longer a government for the people, by the people.

Instead we have a geocorporate conglomeration of lobby-gaggling self-pontificating nimrods.

The truth is, stalemate hurts the little guy, helps the monied rich.

I don't think political solutions are forthcoming, to any of our society's ills.

We need a new paradigm, one based on grassroots barter economy.

Go under the radar folks, politics suck.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on December 13, 2007 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

In my opinion, let the Democrats destroy themselves. The sooner the better. It's pretty obvious that their leadership is an abject failure. I didn't think it was possible to be worse than the Republicans have been, but WOW was I ever wrong. The GOP, for all their authoritarian, criminal-enabling, anti-intellectual, reality denying ways at least have the courage of their convictions and the spine to act, however misguided. As someone who has supported and been a member of the Democratic party, I've never felt more betrayed and personally, I hope they get their asses handed to them in future elections. That way, maybe the Republicans can finally "deep six" this whole mess with their stupidity and we can start over without the Democrats getting in the way.

Posted by: jack fate on December 13, 2007 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

The founding fathers had problems formulating the Senate. Many of them thought it gave too much power to the minority small population states. But it was the price of union. Over time the power of the minority has grown. The conservatives are exploiting a flawed and antiquated system, just as they did to prevent desegregation. They have been so effective, and the opposition so bound, that a small radical, but disciplined, minority within a minority controls the country. Nowhere in the democratic world can you find such a situation.

It is childish to suggest everyone should behave. Ambitious men are exploiting a rotten system. I guess we are condemned to address the issue at hand and not the ultimate cause. This will, however, not go on forever. It is becoming clear to a vanguard of political thinkers that the United States needs radical Constitutional reform.

Posted by: bellumregio on December 13, 2007 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Could it be that the Democratic leadership has an ulterior motive for not publicizing Republican obstructionism? By letting bills die a quiet death, they may be courting corporate America and it's campaign contributions/perks. All the while telling their base that, "Gee, we tried". These are smart politicians. They have to be to win a national election. If Republicans could get their agenda passed while in the majority, so can Democrats. If they want to.

Posted by: jeri on December 13, 2007 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

That way, maybe the Republicans can finally "deep six" this whole mess with their stupidity and we can start over

Start over how? With what? With whom? Have you thought about what "deep-sixing this whole mess" actually means?

Yours is a profoundly sophomoric and shortsighted sentiment.

Posted by: shortstop on December 13, 2007 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

How about Reid straps on a pair and gets some damn work done. Force those pieces of shit to ACTUALLY filibuster, not that fake piece of shit they did during the summer. And Bayh can shove his Kabuki theater up his ass.

Posted by: DougMN on December 13, 2007 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

UP-OR-DOWN VOTE, UP-OR-DOWN VOTE, UP-OR-DOWN VOTE. Hell, that worked for the Republicans. Jesus, Senate Dems are worthless. It worked on them, but they refuse to use it on the Republicans.

Posted by: DougMN on December 13, 2007 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Both sides demand we give more our to their special constituents.

Posted by: Matt on December 13, 2007 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

I say we just fight 'em. Bare knuckles dukng it out with these scum. I'll bet Teddy Kennedy could cold cock Mitch McConnell - easy.

Posted by: Joe Bob Briggs on December 13, 2007 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

to Matt: "Both sides demand we give more our to their special constituents." The simple reality is that earmarks fund a vast array of programs and services that many people take for granted. For example, I run an environmental non profit that depends on donations and grants for funding. ALL of the federal grants in my field are funded in large part through earmarks, because it is less cumbersome than writing them into a bill.

Since the Dems instituted the system where earmarks are very public, I see no problem with them in principle. You can always take specific earmarks to task, and that is much easier now.

Posted by: wvng on December 13, 2007 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

[Handle Hijack]

Posted by: Al on December 13, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Al has gone from defending recidivist rapist-murderers such as Wayne DuMond, to clumsy gay-bashing. Typical.

Posted by: DJ on December 13, 2007 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

[Handle Hijack]

Posted by: Al on December 13, 2007 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Santa, all I want for Christmas are new and better and real Democrats, please hurry. Thanks.

Posted by: ckelly on December 13, 2007 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Waterboarding! Just in time for Christmas - the new game for the whole family! Find out who among you is a true blue, loyal American! Brings families closer together! As easy to learn as the backstroke, and no special equipment to buy!

Posted by: Kit Bond on December 13, 2007 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Nothing new here, the democrats are leaderless, clueless, spinless and gutless. cleve

Posted by: cleve on December 13, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it was the Iraq-war-is-lost talk, 9/11 was our fault speak, and impeachment noise which made Republicans not want to work with the Defeatocrats in congress.

I think it is precisely because the Democrat/progressive message has gotten through to the American people that Republicans see no need to work with the majority.

Seems to me that the conservative Democrat election wins are coming home to roost on the egg that the liberals laid.

Posted by: demolition on December 13, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is the Dems have no PR wing to publicize the obstruction while the Repubs have a PR wing to publicize that "nothing is getting done." We all know when laws are passed, but we don't hear when they're not or why. Until the Dems start showing up in print and on TV every day explaining why their bills are failing in the Senate the general public who might read/listen/watch a 1/2 hour of news at best each day will just see it as failure of the Dems rather than obstruction by the Repubs.

Posted by: Fred F. on December 13, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

This is really not a story you want to see on page A1.

that liberal media, always protecting Democrats from bad publicity, burying the story on page A1.

Posted by: haha on December 13, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

No,you don't want to see it on page 1, but what the hell do you expect?

Everyone is moanin’and bitchin' about how the Dems let us down. How can you expect differently?

Throw the rascals out, I say–all 435 of our so-called legislators are in the pocket of the money crowd. A kleptocracy is what we got.


Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on December 13, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) noted that, this summer, Reid employed just the kind of theatrics Rangel and other House Democrats are demanding, holding the Senate open all night, pulling out cots and forcing a dusk-till-dawn debate on an Iraq war withdrawal measure before a vote on war funding. Democrats gained not a single vote after the all-night antics.

"I understand the frustration; we're frustrated, too," Bayh said. "But holding a bunch of Kabuki theater doesn't get anything done."

This was the part of the article that made me maddest - the fact that the WaPo reporters made no attempt to distinguish between (a) Reid's meaningless piece of kabuki and (b) actually keeping a bill on the floor after a cloture motion had been blocked. Reid has yet to try (b).

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on December 13, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

"I understand the frustration; we're frustrated, too," Bayh said. "But holding a bunch of Kabuki theater doesn't get anything done."

Disagreeing with others upthread, I think this is absolutely right. The Republicans are playing a game of power politics. The only response is an equal and opposite force. Theatrics - almost definitionally - will fail to accomplish anything.

Posted by: scudbucket on December 13, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK
"The problem is the Dems have no PR wing to publicize the obstruction while the Repubs have a PR wing to publicize that "nothing is getting done."

--Fred F

For all the claims of "liberal media!" by the right, the Dems sure do have a hell of a time getting their points out to the public, don't they?

I still have yet to figure out why the hell Dems can't get their messaging infrastructure set up and have it work effectively.

They call a few press conferences, yet the media doesn't show them.

They put out releases, yet no one reads them.

Sure, they now have bloggers, but those only have a limited reach (and often preach to the converted).

So the Dems just sit there and do ... well, not a lot to show America what the GOP is doing.

Meanwhile, the GOP gets on all the teevee shows, has its talk radio goons, and manages to get the media to take anything they say against the left as gospel (see: Klein, Joe) and print it on the front page.

I really should send Dean my resumé in the hopes they're looking for an ethical PR person (and yes, we do exist!) to get their message out more often.

;-)

Posted by: Mark D on December 13, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

ammonite: "Evan Bayh is a wimp, and a political fool!"

Evan Bayh has made a career out of trading in on the public goodwill toward his late parents, Birch and Marvela.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on December 13, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Pat & Crissa have it exactly right. And most of the liberal & Dems commenting here, including Kevin, have it exactly wrong.

Suppose the Senate Dems do force actual filibusters? That would mean 4 of the Democratic candidates for President would have to stop campaigning completely during the entire course of the filibusters because they would have to be present 24 hours a day during each filibuster.

OK. Suppose it works, & maybe 2 or 3 of the high priority bills do manage to be passed? Then what? Bush simply uses the veto pen, & the battle is completely lost, including quite possibly the election for the White House since the candidates would be unable to campaign for days or weeks at a time.

There is a reason that none of us are making big bucks in politics. Quite simply, we are almost completely unaware of the reality of politics at this level. The first requirement is to choose your battles carefully. I would strongly suggest all Democratic Congress- & Senate-critters, & all other liberals & Democrats quit doing the right's dirty work for them by castigating members of the party.

Like it or not, Bush will get his way on budgets, the war, & any other issue he chooses that cannot gain a 2/3 majority against in both Houses. THAT, my friends, is reality. All the wishing & scapegoating in the world will not change reality. None of us have to like it, but we need to live in reality if we are going to be successful in anything at all. We already have our scapegoats; the administration, Lieberman, & the Republicans. Those are the ones we need to attack. Put the damn blame squarely where it belongs.

Posted by: bob in fla on December 13, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Getting to the point where you can run an ad next year that says "My opponent voted with George Bush to deny medical treatment to poverty-stricken kids" is pretty darn good. Getting something to Bush for him to veto is something of an accomplishment. I'd be willing to bet that some Senators support filibusters this way just on the grounds that they don't want to be tied to Bush that way.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on December 13, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

John Edwards at the top of the ticket gets you four more Democratic senators. Dems could pass anything they want in 2009.

Posted by: another reason on December 13, 2007 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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