Yesterday’s “incredible, republic-saving show of bipartisanship” in the Senate has left me a little confused as to the actual result. Democrats have agreed to filibuster only under “extraordinary circumstances,” and Bill Frist says he’ll be “watching for bad behavior” and/or “bad faith” by the Democrats.
Although everyone in the DNC seems to think they got the better part of the deal here, I can’t help but think the Senate Democrats sold us down the river. Perhaps I’m a non-cooperative sort of fellow, but my thought would be to let the Republicans push for the nuclear option and suffer the consequences in the 2006 elections. People are already pissed off enough as it is (see my article below on the polls regarding the congress), and while I think they’re paying attention to the “end of the filibuster,” they’re not paying attention to the five judges in question, three of which will now get a vote, and two who can still be filibustered. Essentially, I saw this as a winning situation for Democrats, if not for the country as a whole. The nuclear option would potentially mean that five questionable court judges would inhabit the bench. Are the Senate Democrats to be commended for not allowing this to happen, or are they to be blamed for squandering an opportunity to be seen by the public as victims of an administration that is drunk on power? My thought right now is the latter.
I’m cynical enough to believe this compromise was reached more for the benefit of the general public than it was for “saving the republic.” I don’t believe anymore that the Senate does anything without considering the public reaction. After all, how else can we explain how the Democrats have flopped about for years now, devoid of any backbone, while the GOP has bulldozed over the law and has tried to change the rules time and time again? In 2000, the only reason that Al Gore didn’t allow anyone in the House to launch an investigation into the validity of George W.’s presidency was because he held the tying vote in the Senate, and in order to proceed, he himself would’ve had to have cast the vote that would bring the country into another quagmire of investigation, and he didn’t want that. Thus, no Senator bothered to sign anything for a member of the House that would’ve questioned Bush’s legitimacy.
Public perception. That’s the name of the game.
I just don’t understand, then, how a Senate that is so concerned with public perception didn’t understand that this time the public was on top of this, that they realized this upcoming power grab for what it was. Paying attention or not, the general public does not like one-party rule. Had this grab occurred, I believe the 2006 elections would show very poor results for the GOP. Now? Who knows.
Which brings up another question of public perception. Let’s say the Republicans lose the House and Senate in 2006. Will the Democrats launch articles of impeachment against Bush for his high crimes and misdemeanors — crimes which are certainly more easily proven and more valid than anything that Clinton was charged with.
Need a couple of the most serious examples? $700 million in funds allocated by the Senate for Afghanistan was found Iraq. Truthout.org notes the following:
“Article I, Section 8, Clause 12 of the U.S. Constitution specifically gives Congress the power “to raise and support armies.” And the emergency spending bill passed after Sept. 11, 2001, requires the administration to notify Congress before changing war spending plans.”
Obviously, the White House did not notify Congress before it reallocated funds. The Republican congress declined to investigate the issue.
And how about those “fake news stores” we’ve all heard about, where the White House produced fake news videos promoting its agenda and distributed it to stations where it eventually aired without any reference to its origin being the Bush Administration? There are laws against using federal money for propaganda. Again, according to Truthout, the GAO concluded that the administration acted illegally, but the agency lacks enforcement power.
Then there’s the issue of the White House paying conservative pundits to promote the administration’s causes, such as private social security accounts. Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams was paid $240,000 to promote “No Child Left Behind,” and he noted to a Nation editor that “there are others” on the payroll.
Do we even need to get into the case of Bush making a case for war against Iraq when there was no case to be made? Yes? Well, just look at the now infamous Downing Street Memo, a UK record of the Prime Minister’s meeting on July 23, 2002, months before the US-led war began. All you need to know is in the following paragraph:
Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
Now the question is, with such intensely serious high crimes clearly occurring, if the Democrats retake the House and Senate in 2006, do we “burden” the public with more impeachment trials or do we “take the high road” and show the public that Democrats can actually move on and do good for the country? It’s a good call. I suppose it’s down to whether you believe in justice, or polling.