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Hullabaloo


Sunday, September 23, 2007

 
Teaching Us A Lesson

by digby


I was going to take Dianne Feinstein downtown today, but I see that Glenn Greenwald has already done a fine job of it. She truly is one of the most egregious Village Elders, shockingly uninterested in the views or desires of her constituents or the country at large.

Glenn flagged an interesting little factoid from Election Central that I missed last week in all the hubub:

Now this is curious. In the latest Gallup poll, more Republicans approve of the job Congress is doing than there are Democrats who approve. According to the poll, 37% of Republicans approve of Congress' performance, compared to 23% of Democrats and 14% of independents, with an overall rating of 24% approval and 71% disapproval.

This is odd, of course, considering that both houses have Democratic majorities. But on second thought, the current Congress has passed President Bush's funding requests for Iraq, passed his FISA bill, and has given the White House exactly what it wanted on a host of other issues. So what do Republicans really have to complain about?


From the looks of that poll, it would appear that the Democratic strategy is less obscure than one might think. The only conclusion you can reach is that they are consciously voting against the wishes of Democratic voters in the hopes of picking up Republicans. Apparently they believe Democratic voters will enthusiastically turn out next year no matter what they do, so they might as well poach a few GOPers. Why else would they consistently defy their own voters?

I guess they've never heard of the old adage about not counting your chickens. More importantly, they haven't learned anything about how the Republican party works. Dianne Feinstein could introduce legislation to give fetuses the right to vote and guarantee funding for the war in Iraq through 2050 and they still wouldn't vote for her.

Of course, as Greenwald points out, Dianne and the other elders don't really even care about that. They care about the Village. And the outsider DFH Democrats are hooligans who must be taught that their role is to write checks, vote and STFU. The only way we will learn our lesson is if the Elders make it very clear that if we exert ourselves in any way, they will do exactly the opposite: the word from some of the gasbags today is that the "far left" has forced the congressional Democrats to give up on trying to stop the war.

I'm learning my lesson, all right, but it's not exactly the one they think it is.

Update: Jonathan Zasloff at the Reality Based Community asked an expert what the Dem's strategy likely is, and here's her explanation:

1. The Democrats are very invested in the notion that they can get the appropriations bills enacted in a timely manner. This shows their ability to govern.

2. The Democrats are also very invested in getting S-CHIP reauthorized. Many Republicans are VERY nervous about not getting this done: their governors and publics are screaming at them about this. The Democrats may not be able to override the President's veto, but would be happy to have him veto S-CHIP and undermine the Republicans in their districts.

So? "Remember," she told me, "that the Senate grinds to a halt unless you can get a unanimous consent agreement." Making the GOP filibuster prevents these agreements and it will essentially clog up the calendar so much that nothing can get done. Also remember, she told me, just how slim the Democratic majorities are.


Zasloff replies:

I don't buy it. If Mitch McConnell is committed to making the Democrats look bad, then he will also filibuster the appropriations bills (which the GOP can do) unless the Dems give the President everything he wants, and even then he will hold it up to make them look incompetent. I can see not forcing a public filibuster on habeas--that's hard for people to understand--but I think that doing it for the Webb Amendment works. I also endorse Mark's proposal to put the Webb Amendment in the conference report.

But if that's the case, then once McConnell does this, we might get these public filibusters--and it will probably come on Webb or S-CHIP (if those GOP senators who voted for it now reverse themselves to protect the President). If we don't, then we have only two more options:

1. The Senate Democrats are brain-dead; or
2. They are so cynical that they would like the war to continue through 2008 to give the Democrats an issue.

Or maybe both.



Or maybe they just don't actually disagree with their Republican friends except on a few small issues around the edges and don't want to upset the apple cart. It's always possible that these narrow majorities suit them very well indeed.

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