Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 11, 2010

AN UNLIKELY LAME-DUCK CRITIC.... Republican activism in opposition to a lame-duck session on the Hill this year has been pretty strong of late. The notion that the Democratic majority might try to legislate after the November elections -- the way the GOP has in years past -- has fueled a coordinated effort from the Republican Study Committee, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, and assorted Tea Party groups.

Yesterday, they picked up an unexpected ally.

Sen. Russ Feingold became Tuesday the first Democrat to denounce the lame-duck session, saying such work periods "are sometimes used to consider extremely controversial policies."

"By allowing votes just after an election but before the newly elected Congress takes office, lame-duck sessions provide an opportunity to override the public's will as expressed at the ballot box," said the Wisconsin lawmaker, who is up for re-election this year.

"Rather than schedule a lame-duck session this year, Congress should complete its work before the upcoming elections," he said in a statement.

I realize Russ Feingold can be idiosyncratic at times. I also realize he's up for re-election this year, and is in the midst of a surprisingly difficult race.

But endorsing the right-wing campaign against a lame-duck session is pretty odd. "Override the public's will"? That's the GOP line, but it's literally backwards -- voters went to the ballot box in 2008 to elect lawmakers to fill out a specified term. That term doesn't end the first week in November, just because Republicans wish it did.

"Congress should complete its work before the upcoming elections"? That's a great idea. Maybe if the same Republicans who oppose a lame-duck session would let the majority schedule the necessary votes, that might actually happen. And if it doesn't, lame-duck sessions exist so that lawmakers can complete unfinished work.

Also yesterday, Feingold launched a new radio ad, insisting that he's more conservative on guns than his right-wing opponent.

I can only assume Feingold is deeply worried about November.

Steve Benen 10:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Prominent Democrat sucks at message discipline, embraces right-wing frames. Film at 11.

Posted by: Gregory on August 11, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

to think, i used to like feingold! otherwise, what gregory said....

Posted by: howard on August 11, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

It's sad that "being worried about November" means pandering to the TEAliban. What the hell happened to the electorate, esp. the "independents" and "centrists"?!

I've got some advice for Democrats and especially their advisers and poll whores: instead of just passively receiving poll results and triangulating around them, how about some persuasive leadership? How about trying to affect the conversation and get people on your side, not just react to it as a "given"? It's not a given ...

Posted by: Neil B on August 11, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Feingold is also one of the Dems to come out against filibuster reform.

I used to like Feingold, too.

Posted by: Jasper on August 11, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone knows that people tend to goof off and do slip-shod work on payday -- too busy thinking about partying to do their employers' business. It's time for the government to make PayDay a national holiday. The integrity of the workplace demands it.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on August 11, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Ok, when does Feingold present his bill to cut Congressional salaries and expenses by two months' worth per year?

Posted by: TonyB on August 11, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

yikes another Feindgold as 5th columnist story. Give me Feingold over the rightwing of the senate Dems any day.

His inconsistency on party discipline is not new. He was the lone Democrat to back a motion to bring Clinton's impeachment to trial and he was the lone Democrat to vote against the Patriot Act. Would that all the Dems had joined him the 2nd time, thankfully they bucked him the 1st time.

He gives the party fits much as one of his more illustrious Wisconsin predecessors William Proxmire did. Given the fits that the Dem leadership gives it voters, I say call it even.

Posted by: angler on August 11, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Feingold is a flake and that is what is going to get him beat, not Johnson's millions. The biggest problem Democrats have is the enthusiasm gap and Feingold has done everything he can to widen it in Wisconsin including joining the GOP in filibustering the financial reform bill which resulted in further weakening the bill to lop off a couple of Republicans. The guy voted to impeach Clinton for heavens sake and he wonders why I do not give him money. The NRA has given him F's and D's in recent elections and that is not going to change , but he sure isn't going to motivate the hard core left to get out and vote for him by defending gun ownership. He got into it with Johnson over drilling for oil in the Great Lakes and I have no wild idea who that was supposed to influence. Liberals were not going to vote for Johnson and unfortunately there are a fair number of independents who would support drilling for oil in Lake Michigan if it meant jobs and tax revenues.

Posted by: Terry on August 11, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

What the hell? I used to think Feingold was one of the good ones.

Posted by: kc on August 11, 2010 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

obamarahma's official spokesperson, little bobby gibbs, is throwing feces at the administration's base again.

I know mindless obamabots are going to ignore this, even proclaim it is good - that is what obamabots do.

The real lame duck is obamarahma! No way he wins elections pandering to right and having his stooges call his liberal/progressive base "f@ckin' stooooopid (rahm) or demanding drug tests from critics (gibbs).

He ratings will fall like a stone - whistle past graveyard, folks, things are going to get much worse before they get better because the top dem has made himself unelectable!

But to mindless obamabots - this is good and neither they nor obamarahma has any responsibility for their corporatist agenda, the lies of their rhetoric, no the fact that they have alienated the young folks, liberals, and progressives that propelled him into office in the first place.

NOW BACK TO THE MINDLESS NATTERING HERE AT WASHINGTON MONTHLY!

Posted by: joe on August 11, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Feingold doesn't get it that we're in a domestic war, and that you don't give points to the other side. Period.

This idiot ls now long past his "sell-by" date.

Posted by: TCinLA on August 11, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe Feingold's found a way (using wormholes in the fabric of spacetime, no doubt) to create a big new block of time between now and November for the Senate to conduct its business despite two years' worth of GOP delaying tactics.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on August 11, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Those fucking bastards have been thwarting the public will ever since they took office.

Posted by: getaclue on August 11, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Folks, I suggest you try to learn something from joe and not blow that off just because it irritates you. Obama really does need to reorder himself and be more respectful of his base. If he tries to triangulate for everyone he will end up (deservedly!) despised by almost everyone.

Posted by: neil bee on August 11, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Feingold is trying to be the "independent" democrat. If he keeps this up, he's going to "independent" himself out of office. DLC tactics NEVER work. He should know that. All it does is drive more voters to the GOP side and keep your base home.

He's hoping that the Democratic base still remembers his good stuff, but it's getting harder and harder to do as he tries desperately to get the right wing votes that he will never get.

Posted by: Mike on August 11, 2010 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

neil bee - thanks. I admit, my rhetoric is "abrasive", but trying to talk nicely about this here doesn't work.

Folks at Washington Monthly seem to have decided that, even thought the administration has been outrageously disrespectful of the people that gave money and worked hard to got this crew elected, think progress, daily kos, washington monthly, TPM, open left, digby are "catapulting the propaganda".

It will become totally unsustainable to continue to ignore these issues. The administration is at a crossroads and appears to be choosing a huge FAIL!

The attitude that "he's our guy" so he gets a free pass is going to accelerate this decline.

VOTE FOR ME OR I WILL KILL THIS PUPPY/HEY I AM NOT AS CRAZY AS MCLAME will not work in 2012. It will probably fail colossally in 2010 too.

Posted by: joe on August 11, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Feingold IS one of the good ones, this just doesn't align with what some may crave from their (or maybe not even their own) officials. Feingold is correct; Congress should finish the job before elections! I don't think that's a "right or left-fielder" appraisal.. Damn, I thought I was one for flights of passion but some of you guys appear to be becoming increasingly incapable of taking anything unusual or politically “eclectic” with grain of salt. That to me is the yantra/mantra of the Republican Tea Bagging Party.. So get a grip or get ready to start Democratic scrote-sucking a lot!

Posted by: Trollop on August 11, 2010 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Trollop - great points, the attacks on russ are not warranted.

However, put this in perspectives - this blog is part of a series of blogs that promotes group-think over rational dialog.

After watching this for about 2 years now, many have decided to drop out (I am sure some have been banned outright) - there is a small group that will mindlessly support dem leadership/obamarahma regardless of what they do.

Hack attacks on russ are all that these scoundrels have left - they will not talk about "hopey/changey" anymore becuase now it is "their guy" in the white house.

NOW BACK TO THE ENDLESS DISTRACTIONS AND MEANINGLESS NATTERING HERE AT WASHINGTON MONTHLY!

Posted by: joe on August 11, 2010 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Uh, joe you have some good points but the CAPS about nattering etc. are just offputting and don't help move your message.

Posted by: neil b. on August 11, 2010 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Whenever people defend Feingold for doing things that they vituperatively attack Obama for doing, it always makes my head hurt.

Posted by: Steve (Not That One) on August 11, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats can't pass anything when they aren't lame ducks, how could they manage to do it when they are?

Posted by: qwerty on August 11, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, more than a few lefties have suggested embracing the right's call for no lame duck session, but with a twist. The Republicans want two months off? Fine, but WITHOUT PAY.

That's the vote I want to see them take.

Posted by: Mark Gisleson on August 11, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Rather ironic that some of those pushing the "lame-duck session" attack also believe fervently in the wisdom of the Founders. The window during which a lame duck session can occur is a mere fragment of the original schedule adhered to by the Founders. In the good old days, lame ducks did lots of serious legislating.

Posted by: Bill Harshaw on August 11, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

neil - not concerned about moving my message on deaf ears.

Perhaps the real problem here is the left blogosphere is just another version of atrio's "101st keyboarding brigade"

Share what you like, but you will not change me because posting WITHOUT caps doesn't carry the message to mindless obamabots either. But thanks!

Posted by: joe on August 11, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Feingold is correct; Congress should finish the job before elections! -Trollop

So Congress should just automatically shut down for nearly a third of the year? In addition to the short weeks and other breaks they get? No deal.

In the good old days, lame ducks did lots of serious legislating. -Bill Harshaw

Well, in the good ole days, there were some serious legislators.

The country requires governing year round, and when these representatives are elected it is to serve a full term, all the way up until the day it ends, regardless of election results.

It is disappointing that Feingold cannot grasp this simple fact, no matter the reason.

Posted by: doubtful on August 11, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

This, I believe, is about Obama's Deficit Commission. The commission will report its recommendations to Congress after the elections. The House has committed to voting on anything passed by the Senate during this lame duck period. Signs point to this commission cutting Social Security, raising retirement age, etc. My guess is that Feingold is trying to avoid having this come up during this lame-duck session.

Posted by: Jason on August 11, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

The obvious solution is to allow members of Congress to take office much much sooner after the election. Same thing for the new President. It's crazy to base the length of the transition on the length of time it takes to ride a horse from the hinterlands to DC.

Posted by: nonplussed on August 11, 2010 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

My guess is that Feingold is trying to avoid having this come up during this lame-duck session.

My guess is that Feingold likes to be Principle Guy (tm), like Glenn Greenwald. That's not my personal favorite kind of political positioning, but some people really seem to be impressed by it.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on August 11, 2010 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

@Joewanndadumba: can you say anything intelligent without sounding like a member of Fat Alberts gang?

Posted by: Alli on August 11, 2010 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

"I can only assume Feingold is deeply worried about November."

As out-of-touch as Obama and the Democrats are about what's going on in the country, and Republicans even worse (I think it goes without saying), whatever happens after the elections on November 2nd isn't going to be good. I think we should all be deeply worried about November.

Posted by: NealB on August 11, 2010 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Feingold may be right on the merits of this.

- No lame duck session means NO consideration of the Cat Food commission recommendations.

- No lame duck session means the Bush tax cuts just expire.

- No lame duck session means no more crap legislation of any kind out of this badly broken Congress for almost three months.

Anything the Republicans and conservadems do get through in the next Congress will be Obama's problem--he can veto or go-along with the Republicans as he chooses. The 2012 presidential election starts on November 3rd anyway; nothing much of consequence is going to get done in Washington for the next two years.

Posted by: NealB on August 11, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's hilarious that you think Congress can get done in a month what it couldn't do in two years. Why would the GOP suddenly stop filibustering, just because it's December?

Your increasing shots at Feingold show somebody somebody like playing the role of "Enforcer of the Doctrine". Pretty soon we could find you an office in the Vatican.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on August 11, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

-- ""Override the public's will"? That's the GOP line, but it's literally backwards -- voters went to the ballot box in 2008 to elect lawmakers to fill out a specified term. That term doesn't end the first week in November, just because Republicans wish it did."

Wha? Yes, legally the terms do not end until the New Year starts, but does anybody deny that the public will in Dec. 2010 is better represented in the election of Nov. 2010 than the election of Nov. 2008 under rather different circumstances. Does anyone think that, say, Bush bombing Iran on Jan. 19, 2008 would have been perfectly fine since his term did not end until Jan. 20th, or would this have a horrible idea?

In general, it is a bad idea for lame duck congresses to do important things. This seems so obvious that I have to believe that the only way that Steve is lead into the error of denying it is to reason that 1) Republicans are wrong about everything, 2) Republicans are against doing significant stuff in a lame duck session, and 3) therefore a lame duck session is good. While I admit this looks persuasive, I believe here we see evidence the Republicans are only wrong about 99 percent of things, and here we have (yes, rather unblelievably) stumbled onto a case where the Republicans are right. So more power to Feingold.

Posted by: Counterfactual on August 11, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

In general, it is a bad idea for lame duck congresses to do important things. This seems so obvious that I...

...won't even bother trying to support this clearly contested position with any evidence other than the air of my own authority.

Posted by: doubtful on August 11, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone think that, say, Bush bombing Iran on Jan. 19, 2008 would have been perfectly fine since his term did not end until Jan. 20th, or would this have a horrible idea?

And I might add this would have been a horrible idea before the election as well. What a terrible analogy on so many levels, not the least of which being that the executive is not the same as the legislative branch.

Sigh.

Posted by: doubtful on August 11, 2010 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

I love how the supposed "true progressives" who trash Obama night and day always prove themselves to be phonies.

Anthony Weiner would trash Obama every day over not being tough enough, yet he says jack shit over the mosque in Manhattan, terrified to say anything.

Fiengold, that intrepid dick who couldn't vote for financial regulation and threatened to bring down health care reform, while trashing Obama night and day, now opposes gun control and supports Republicans that say after the elections Dems should do nothing.

I eagerly await the diaries on Daily Kos calling these two shit heads sell-out closet Republicans. Oh I forgot that kind of talk is only reserved for the guy who actually passed health care and financial regs.

Posted by: ESM on August 11, 2010 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Joe,
I am certain your problems cause you as much embarrassment as they do us (some sort of political psychosis, isn't it?), but I did want to tell you that many people suffer from the same disorder and are capable, with proper medication and therapy (mainly no stimulants and learning to cope with an unplugged computer, I understand), of leading a rich, full and NON-CAPITALIZED life. I'm certain that such a life can also be yours - once you find it, that is.
all the best,
Doug

Posted by: Doug on August 11, 2010 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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