Thursday :: Dec 20, 2007

Republican obstructionism poisons the process


by Turkana

Here's an angle you don't often see, even in the liberal blogosphere. How bad is Congress? Even worse than many of us realize. Certainly worse than many of us usually note. According to the Campaign for America's Future:

The Republican Senate minority today filibustered an omnibus budget bill, setting a modern-day record for blocking the most legislation during a congressional session. A new report released today by the Campaign for America's Future details the 62 times conservatives have used the filibuster to block legislation (or force modification of bills) in the first session of the 110th Congress. In just the first year of this two-year Congress, their use of the filibuster in the Senate topped the previous record, reached during the entire 107th Congress.

The new report outlines every bill filibustered, vetoed or threatened to be vetoed by President Bush. Conservatives filibustered bills to end the occupation of Iraq, provide soldiers in Iraq rest time equal to their deployments, support renewable energy and grant residents of the District of Columbia representation in Congress. Today's record-breaker involved a $516 billion budget package passed by the House to fund the federal government in 2008. The conservative minority demanded $20 billion additional funding for the war and opposed House language to bring troops home, and threatened a filibuster to prevent the bill from getting an up or down vote.

"In just one session, a minority in Congress has prevented a mind-blowing 62 pieces of legislation from going to the floor for an up or down vote," said Campaign for America's Future co-director Roger Hickey. "Our report shows how over and over again, the uncompromising minority has thwarted the will of majorities in Congress and of the American people, holding the Senate floor hostage to a radical right-wing agenda."

Sixty votes are needed to invoke cloture and end a filibuster. The 62nd cloture vote of the session is more than any single session of Congress since at least 1973, the earliest year cloture votes are available online from the Senate. Republicans are on pace to force 134 cloture votes to cut off a filibuster, according to the Campaign for America's Future analysis, more than double the historical average of the last 35 years.

Sure, the Democratic leadership is often weak, and sometimes inept, but let's also be fully aware of the real problem, here.

I found this story at Digby's, and she refers to the CAF's Rick Perlstein, who points out that the Republicans actually brag about their obstructionism. And the media, as usual, give them a pass. Of course, by the rules of High Broderism, if Democrats stick to their agenda, they're partisan; if Republicans stick to theirs, they're strong.

If the shoe were on the other foot the Republicans would be staging wildly entertaining daily hissy fits featuring howling denunciations of the Democrats with such patented whines as "these are not good people." The press would be covering this as a terrible political loss for the Democrats who are failing to heed the will of the voters. But that is not to say the same thing would work for the Dems. If they behaved similarly, the line would be that only pathetic whiners complain about not being able to get the job done --- real men never complain, never explain, they just Do It. Clearly, the Democrats are weak and feminine. America doesn't like losers.

See how that works? The Republicans can call for the smelling salts over and over again, tremulously appearing before the cameras to protest the horror of some liberal group using "political hate speech" or failing to acknowledge that "elections have consequences" and the press immediately jumps on the bandwagon decrying the terrible degradation of our political discourse. Democrats do the same thing and they are accused of whining.

And, of course, that relentless media bias is a big part of why the Democratic leadership does so often fail. That's not an excuse, that's a fact. They're suffocating on the noxious spew of the Timmeh and Tweety conventional wisdom. They haven't yet come to realize that the corporate media are increasingly irrelevant to most Americans. There are other ways to access information. And the politicians who continue to pay obeisance to the ossified and obsolete will, themselves, soon be equally irrelevant.

The Democrats need to learn, once again, how to be Democrats, and stand with the people. There's nothing they can do about the media, and the traditional framing. The Republicans are the problem. They want to be the problem. They will do everything in their power to be the problem! And we need to recognize that. We need to remain focused on that. No one else will. And we need to help the Democrats fight. No one else will.

For now, in this case, it's very simple: the Democrats have, actually, tried to get things done. The Republicans are obstructionists of an unprecedented degree. There was a time when being labeled a "Do-Nothing Congress" was considered to be political poison. Well, the Republicans have made "Do-Nothing Congress" their legislative goal.

Turkana :: 9:23 AM :: Comments (27) :: Digg It!