Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Breaking news: Democrats suck at politics

Stuff like this makes me repeatedly bonk my head in annoyance.

Under Massachusetts law, it'll probably take 10 days for the election of Scott Brown to be certified and for Brown to be sworn in as a Senator. Nothing nefarious -- that's just how orderly transfers of power work in a democratic system. Consequently, Paul Kirk will continue to serve as Senator up until the point that Brown is properly sworn in.

Barney Frank, God love him, doesn't think Kirk counts:

"I know some of my Democratic colleagues had been thinking about ways to, in effect, get around the results by working in various parliamentary ways, looking at the rules, trying to get a health care bill passed that would have been the same bill that would have passed if [MA AG] Martha Coakley [D] had won, and I think that's a mistake," Frank said. "I will not support an effort to push through a House-Senate compromise bill despite an election. I'm disappointed in how it came out, but I think electoral results have to be respected."

Jim Webb agrees, except ever so more so:

"In many ways the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process," Mr. Webb said. “It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated."

I watched a Daily Show episode this week in which Jon Stewart said something along these lines: "Oh. So apparently what is going to kill Obama's agenda is having only 59 allies in the Senate, which is more than the number that George Bush ever had, back when he did pretty much whatever the [bleeped] he wanted."

But as dumb as the new normal is, where Senate Republicans filibuster every bill every time regardless of content, what is even more stupid is that even leading Senators find it so easy to cut and run.

If Tom Delay had ever commanded a filibuster-proof Republican majority, which was about to end in two weeks, would he have said, "Aw shucks fellas, I guess we'd better put all legislation on hold in order to be fair to the Democrats"? Fuck, NO. What Tom Delay would have done was rush to cram as much legislation as possible into the next two weeks, in order to take maximum advantage of the existing time window.

Look, Democrats. Do I like it that the Senate is now this cutthroat, where both parties need to use every possible political trick in order to gain the upper hand? No. But it is what it is -- if you don't use every opportunity to get what you want, then you get steamrolled by Republicans, who have no such scruples.


  1. Everyday we learn that the Democrats are not playing the same game as the Republicans. The dems are playing an idealistic game in which everyone respects one another and we can all come together to hammer out common goals. The Republicans are playing a deeply partisan game in which the object is to trash, and stonewall your opponent as much as possible in an effort to make them look as ineffective as possible while trying to get as much power as possible.

    I think Webb and most of the commentators are right and wrong. The election of the republican was in part out of frustration over the health care bill...but not because the bill is too liberal and radical for the people. In a post in a day or two, I will link to a few polls that show, if nothing else, on several individual issues, including health care and taxation, the American public is far more liberal and radical than just about any member of congress not named Denis Kucinich. The thing I think people are reacting against is the slow pace and ineffectiveness of democrats in getting anything done. And while you are frustrated at what the Dems are doing...what else are you going to do than express that frustration by voting for a republican (it is not a sane strategy I think...but the american public, when it comes to voting, is not sane).

    I think Barney Frank is right though also, given where the dems are right now and where the discourse is right now, it would be a political mistake for them to all of a sudden grow a pair of balls right before they lose the super majority, and cram through legislation. If they had been doing it all along...maybe. I think maybe they should just sit tight, put together a strategy, then grow a pair, get effective, and push through legislation with a 59 seat majority through the budget reconciliation process.

    The American people are not upset about the policies of democrats, they are upset about the ineffectiveness of democrats.

    And, it will take a minimum of ten days, according to federal election law, for the results to be certified, as the federal law requires a ten day waiting period for absentee votes from military personnel overseas to come in an be counted in the final tally. Even if the outcome is not in doubt, it would be a slap in the face to the military personnel to not have their votes counted, so the logic goes.

  2. "What he said" to Robert's first paragraph especially. And to add that the Dems have a talent for wresting defeat from the jaws of victory that is unequaled anywhere on earth.

  3. This is why I argue "Ruthless" and "cunning bastard" are not necessarily 'evil'

    To take a pop culture reference, The good guys needed the Slytheren talents of Snape to win the war in Harry POtter. manipulative and cunning, while long associated with the devil and all that are not by definition evil.

  4. There are a lot people who are heroic through cunning and trickery, that politicians could model themselves after without thinking of themselves as "evil."

    Here's a whole page full of them, at the TV Tropes entry for "loveable rogue."

    * Han Solo
    * Captain Jack Sparrow
    * The Dread Pirate Roberts
    * Robin Hood
    * Zaphod Beeblebrox
    * Fred and George Weasley
    * Captain Mal Reynolds
    * Aladdin (Disney version)
    * Bender

    There ya go... not all that relevant, but it was a fun list to scrape up :)

  5. I wouldn't list "Bender" when you're trying to argue 'not evil' :-p

    but it is a valid point. Rather than being insanely ineffectual whimps I would rather the democratic party were a party of magnificent bastards, and letting the republicans just be the party of plane old bastards.

    They're apparently backing down on the health care all together now cause you know...when your opponent goes out of their way to shit on everything you want to do you really want to reward that by caving in. Dumbbunnies...

  6. @ Robert

    The problem is the democrats seem to be willing to put things aside to do what they think migth be good of the country...the republican strategy of late has been "stonewall stonewall stonewall" no matter what Obama suggested republicans would oppose it simply on principle. The democrat move in the long run is right for the country, but taking a harder line might be needed in short run to break this childish power struggle.

  7. Cross posted from AA, cause I thought in hindsight it was more relevant here...

    I'm starting to think that the Dems massive epic fails politically is so staggering it's not a valid option to support them. Republicans in the last 8 years had epic fails of policy but darn gonnit they got that dead stinking opossum of law passed! Dems have all the advantages the Reps did back then and seem to lack the testicular fortitude to actually do anything with it. There's not sinking to their level and then there's refusal to be effective and disorganization. And this is despite the support of the liberals and atheist community as a whole. I'm starting to think it might actually be easier to cause a paradigm shift in the Republican party and try to push the less reasonable elements of that out of power, ie it's easier to make the Republican party reasonable than make the Democrat party effective. But then we hit the big brick wall of fail from the religious right and their Scrooge McDuck money swimming pools. Fuck...maybe moving to a country where bat squeak insanity hasn't been ignored for so long and we still got a chance to effect things is the best option -_-.

  8. I'm including this comment in both places...

    I'm starting to think it might actually be easier to cause a paradigm shift in the Republican party and try to push the less reasonable elements of that out of power, ie it's easier to make the Republican party reasonable than make the Democrat party effective.

    You can't be serious.

    Yes, I agree that the Democratic party continues to be laughably ineffective, but if anything the Republicans have gotten worse, no made any moves towards reasonable.

    The things that have been accomplished this year, small though they are, are generally at least positive: a new Supreme Court justice, some well placed stimulus dollars, the very big slowing of job loss (hasn't been turned around yet but it's approaching zero).

    More significantly, though, is that we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the Democratic Congress has not proposed any new disastrous legislation of the sort that we got weekly under Bush. No new wars have been started; no new federal legislation has been introduced attempting to ban abortion or gay marriage; no massive kickbacks for the rich; no slashing of science budgets or gutting of regulation.

    This isn't a trivial point. I'm surprised that people can have such short memories that they don't see a tremendous difference between doing the things that the Bush administration did, and NOT doing the things that the Bush administration did. Even if Congress had not passed a single new bill of note in the last year, this would be a tremendous improvement from the preceding eight years.

    As I've said before about elections: refusing to vote for the lesser of two evils only makes sense, if you are genuinely satisfied with the greater of two evils winning.

  9. "Yes, I agree that the Democratic party continues to be laughably ineffective, but if anything the Republicans have gotten worse, no made any moves towards reasonable."

    Part of why I thought it might be possible as eventually this progress can't continue without the party splitting...but as I said the big problem is that the party is so engrossed with the power the tea party masses and crazies offer. It's a faustian bargain, but they won't turn down that power.