The Filibuster: Too Little, Too Late, Too Short (Updated)

The Senate filibuster ended a little while ago as expected – the Pubs voted against voting and the Reid-Levin Amendment was tabled. No surprise there. I listened to the debate from about 11p to 4a and the only surprising thing I heard from a Pub was Olympia Snowe’s quiet, controlled, practical explanation of what the Amendment says and why her Republican colleagues should support it. The rest of the Pub speakers stuck to attacks on what they called a “political stunt” and endlessly repeated the same Karl Rove TP’s that have become so stale over the past few months.

Although I’m glad the Dems finally made these GOP obstructionists actually stand up and make their silly defenses of Bush’s disastrous neocon-inspired occupation – and many of their arguments were so silly they bordered on the absurd – I can’t avoid the feeling that the whole thing reeks of the usual Democratic political ineptitude: too little too late, and rotten timing.

First, this should have been done months ago when the Republican strategy of inflexible obstructionism became clear to everyone who was paying attention. The country wanted change and the Pubs were blocking it. Reid should have forced them to filibuster no later than January to make it obvious to everyone what the Pubs were up to. Instead, he let them get away with threatening a filibuster, which no one down here on the ground was paying any attention to whatsoever. We don’t even notice threats to filibuster. We’ve been unaware of them for 6 months.

Second, delaying this tactic for 7 or 8 months has allowed the Pubs to play games like pretending to abandon the president for political reasons while continuing to vote again and again for his imperialist policies, effectively having it both ways. At this point, the Pubs are threatening – after months of what looks to us regular folk like a Democratic betrayal of what we elected them to do – to appropriate the Iraq issue with carefully-worded resolutions of their own that sound as if they’re preparing a timed withdrawal when in fact they do no such thing.

Third, this is the middle of fucking July. The middle of summer. The vacation season. The season of ignoring news in favor of beach parties and barbecues. An absolute minimum of the people who were, up until March or April, waiting and watching, hoping and expecting to see the Democrats end the occupation and begin pulling the troops out, are still paying attention. Most have given up on the Dems doing anything and gone back to their lives.

Fourth, if you’re going to do it, do it. If the purpose is to let the public see what the Dems have been up against, then you have to let it go on long enough to penetrate their growing cynicism about Democratic inaction as well as their normal summer snoozing. A weasly two days isn’t long enough to put a dent in their determination to ignore politics. Reid should have made the Pubs go through this exercise for the whole week. It’s frustrating to know that the word was just beginning to circulate as of last night and today, when people were starting to want to pay attention and find out what was going on, IT’S OVER.

This is practically a catalog of the kind and type of mistakes Democrats have been making consistently over the entire 7 years of the Emperor’s reign. Part political spinelessness, part disconnection, part over-cautious and poorly thought out gamesmanship, they’ve been out-maneuvered by a bunch of rigid sock-puppets stuck with defensive arguments and procedures that aren’t fooling anybody down here any more. The tide turned last summer, the Dems reaped the benefits in November and since then seem to have done everything in their power to throw away their advantage and their chance to end this debacle.

And Iraq is far, far from the only issue of which that’s true.

I could go on but what’s the point? All the good that’s been done by the various committee investigations into Bush/Cheney law-breaking has been significantly and consistently undercut by the Democrats’ refusals to do anything substantive about the plethora of abuses. The Pubs have been able to get away with threatening filibusters on issue after issue, bill after bill, without having to actually stand up and vote in public against what the vast majority of the country’s voters want even as they spend $$millions$$ in PR blaming the Democrats for inaction. And what does the Senate do when they finally force the issue? End it before anybody’s noticed it’s going on.

At the rate the Democratic leadership is tossing advantages away, we’ll be extraordinarily lucky not to find ourselves with a President Fred in ’09, and if we do it will be nobody’s fault but theirs.

Update: Mark Gisleson at Norwegianity notes that NPR’s new right-wing bias was showing after the filibuster.

[A]fter watching as much of the all nighter as possible, the TV was turned off this morning while I did other work. I didn’t hear the final vote until MPR announced it as “a defeat for the Democrats.” I know Minnesota Public Radio is beloved and all that, but they have a real tin ear for politics.

The Democrats were not defeated, they simply failed to overcome the Republican filibuster. MPR didn’t use the word filibuster, of course, just as AP’s stories have only mentioned filibuster in the context of past Democratic actions in efforts to stop Bush’s ridiculously politicized judiciary nominees.


Historians will spend decades documenting the corruption and machinations of this administration, but mostly I wish Danté had been an historian, and that there was a special level of Hell waiting for the McConnell’s and Colemans and Bushs and Cheneys.

Actually, Dante was a historian. And a political satirist. The Inferno is one long historico-political criticism of Renaissance Italian politics in which Popes and the Medici family – or rather, thinly-veiled caricatures of same – play prominent roles. He would have had a ball skewering the Bush gang. They’re just as venal and far more incompetent.

2 responses to “The Filibuster: Too Little, Too Late, Too Short (Updated)

  1. Yep. The Dems, for all their insisting that this was about exposing the GOP obstruction haven’t done what they have to do to make that point. The 30 hours of debate wasn’t the main event. It wasn’t even the warm-up. It was the janitor cleaning the arena before they let the crowd in. Every minute after the vote this morning is what matters. They needed to be on every news outlet, every blog, every everwhere they can be swinging hard explaining what happened in simple language that the entire war-hating, BushCo-hating country can understand. The Dems want to start to end this war and the GOP does not.

    But the Dems just don’t get it. I can’t believe it but they don’t get it.

  2. Frustrating, isn’t it?

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