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Hullabaloo


Monday, February 16, 2009

 
It's All They've Got

by digby

If you've been wondering what the the hoohah over the census is all about, TIME lays out the basis the alleged controversy in this article. One thing that's missing, however, is the fact that the Republicans are ginning this thing up, just as they are fear mongering about the fairness doctrine and a dozen other smallbore dittohead issues. This stuff is designed to get the troops riled up.

Conservatives believe they are an oppressed minority. They even believed it when they were running the whole damned world. But now that they are actually in the minority,their worldview shattered by ideological failure, their sense of oppression and victimization are more important to them than ever.

But on a more prosaic level, they are also looking to keep the census issue on the table for specific political purposes. They want to discredit it as part of their long-term project to discredit all of our electoral systems. When the demographics are against you and you have no new ideas with which to attract new voters, you have to rely more and more upon manipulation of the system.

The protests against putting a hard core right winger like Gregg in charge of the census were well founded and the Obama administration was right to take it out of his hands (although if they were that suspicious of the guy then perhaps he shouldn't have been named in the first place?)

Here's a good example of the kind of cynical hardball they are already playing:

Having just seen what President Barack Obama can do with 58 Democrats in the Senate, Republicans are more determined than ever to keep him from getting a 59th.

Especially if the 59th is Al Franken.

Franken, the former comedian, leads Republican Norm Coleman by 225 votes in a “Groundhog Day” of an election that dawned more than three months ago and shows no signs of ending soon.

Which is exactly how Senate Republicans want it. The National Republican Senatorial Committee held a ritzy fundraiser for Coleman in Washington this week, helping him raise the money he needs to keep his legal challenges alive through a trial and then a lengthy legal process if he loses.

How long should Coleman hold out?

“However long it takes,” says Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who chairs the NRSC.

“I encourage him to see it through the end,” Cornyn said Thursday. “He feels like he owes it to the voters of Minnesota and his colleagues here. He realizes how important retaining that seat is to us.”

The Democrats know how important the seat is — and they accuse the GOP of prolonging Coleman’s legal fight just to keep it empty.

“It’s clear that national Republicans see the vacancy in Minnesota as one of the few arrows in their quiver to obstruct Democrats in the Senate from getting real change passed,” said Eric Schultz, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

With 58 Democrats in the Senate — technically 56, plus Independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders — Obama was able to push through a $787 billion economic recovery plan by picking up just three Republican votes: Sens. Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter. With Ted Kennedy unable to vote because of his health issues, he needed all three of them.

If Franken becomes the 59th senator to caucus with the Democrats, the GOP knows that Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will be able to railroad legislation through the Senate by picking off a single Republican moderate.


(I like how the AP calls it "railroading" with a 59 vote majority. Whatever.)

If the shoe were on the other foot, they would provisionally install Franken, passionately insisting that there should be no taxation without representation for the people of Minnesota and that it is unpatriotic to deprive them of their senator in a time of crisis.

Our electoral system is a mess. And the Republicans are doing everything they can, from all angles, to manipulate it to maintain their diminishing power. It's a sure sign of weakness on their part, but the fact that the Democrats aren't doing anything substantial to reform the electoral system is a sign of their weakness as well. This stuff has a way of blowing back on them at the worst possible time. They should care more about this.


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