Filibustering Common Sense

It appears as though the single worst enemy the Democratic Party has is itself. John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and other liberal Democratic Senators are planning to try and block the Alito nomination with a filibuster that has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding. Already, several other Democrats have openly said that the idea of a filibuster is foolish, including Rep. Harold Ford and Senator Barack Obama.

It’s not surprising that John Kerry would support such a filibuster, he’s trying to ingratiate himself with the radical left in the Democratic Party, and a pointless show of obstructionism is just his style. However, one would think that Senator Clinton would not wish to make herself out to be an obstructionist liberal when she’s been triangulating like crazy in advance of 2008. Then again, Clinton probably figures that an Alito filibuster will give her enough liberal street cred for Blue New York in 2006 – and given the weakness of the New York GOP, it’s not like she has any real need to triangulate for the benefit of upstate voters.

The question here is why the Senate liberals would bother with such obviously futile effort – an act which is not only doomed to failure, but dividing their own party as well. What this speaks to is the power of the far-left liberal base within the Democratic Party these days. Joan Vennochi of The Boston Globe editorializes on this shift to the left:

Calling for a filibuster is a late, blatant bow to the left. It seemed more theatrical than realistic. Still, any such bowing from Massachusetts helps the Bush administration. ”Bring it on,” chortled the Wall Street Journal after Kerry announced his effort to rally fellow Democrats from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. There, the Journal snidely observed, he was ”communing with his political base.”

Calling for a filibuster makes political sense for Kennedy, who is adored by every left-wing constituency in America. He isn’t running for national office; he can afford to stick to strict liberal principle. He wants to go down fighting. For Kennedy, a filibuster call mollifies the left at no political cost. It is also an attempt to make up for the obvious: He used the wrong tone and tactics during the hearings. Going after Alito as a bigot backfired. Forget about Mrs. Alito’s tears. The moment Kennedy was exposed for belonging to a discriminatory college fraternal organization, it was over. He lost the moral high ground.

Kerry’s enthusiasm for a filibuster is harder to fathom, except as more of the same from a perpetually tone-deaf politician.

The Democrats have been given an excellent chance to run to the center, exploit the weaknesses of the Republicans, and vault themselves into a majority in Congress. It’s exactly what the Republicans did in 1994 – they didn’t run on their hatred of Clinton, they ran on the Contract for America and an anti-corruption agenda. The Democrats haven’t done anything that savvy, and the further to the left they move to placate the “netroots activists” the harder it is to later try and say that they’re a party that can govern from the center.

This ridiculous filibuster threat is yet another sign of how internally divided the Democratic coalition really is. Even when the Republicans are at their weakest, the Democrats still can’t seem to get it together. On national security, the Democrats remain clueless. Their advantages on domestic issues end up being negated by foolish acts of partisanship, an uninspired and ravenously partisan leadership, and the (largely correct) perception that Democrats are hostile to the values of many of the people who would normally be a natural constituency. So long as those trends continue, the Democrats will, and should, remain a minority party.

6 thoughts on “Filibustering Common Sense

  1. There’s little for Kerry and Kennedy to lose here since there aren’t enough votes for the filibuster to actually happen. It’s all political posturing and has little opportunity to cause any public opinion fallout. If there was any chance a filibuster could actually ensue, there would be a greater chance of it mushrooming into a PR nightmare. Right now, it’s just a goofy gimmick that keeps Kerry’s delusions of 2008 relevance alive.

  2. A big part of the Democrats’ problem is that on every issue where Bush has angered, if not outraged, his own sometime supporters, it’s obvious that the Democratic alternative would be worse. For example, Bush’s licking big business’s hand on immigration by trying to sneak through an amnesty for illegals and his de facto open-borders policy. Yes, but, if a Democrat were president wouldn’t just fail to enfore immigration laws but try to get them repealed. Or Bush’s pork-as-usual budgets — bad, but can anyone honestly tell me a Democrat would get behind serious spending reductions?

    Where Bush is weakest is on the political right. But because of their ideology, Democrats are hardly going to flank him from that side. Their only hope, as far as I can see, is that enough people will get so fed up with the immigration invasion or Bush’s quasi-liberalism that they’ll start a paleo-conservative third party that will split the moderate-to-right vote.

  3. Rick, the differences between the Democrats’ position on immigration and Bush’s “guest worker” nonsense are negligible. The Democrats (at least the “limousine liberals”) are willing to endure the ruinous pitfalls of lawless immigration for an expected long-term bounty of Democratic votes. The Bush Republicans are willing to endure the ruinous pitfalls of lawless immigration to create a “guest worker” working class permanently removed from voter eligibility. Neither scenario is desirable, but the latter represents an unconscionable supersized scale of taxation without representation for what will become millions of “guest workers,” which is a form of slavery.

  4. Mark,

    I think you misread me — perhaps because a couple of typos in my comment made the sentence confusing. (And I’m supposed to be a professional editor! My excuse is that I was in a hurry.)

    What I meant was that Bush is vulnerable only among his more conservative followers, especially on the immigration issue, but the Dems are hardly going to offer any joy there! Their cynical view of immigration is if anything worse than Bush’s.

  5. Rick, I don’t believe I misread you. I was merely discrediting the assertion that you continue to make that the GOP position on immigration is less egregious or opportunistic than the Democratic strategy of corraling future votes through lawless immigration. Bush’s “guest worker” plan amounts to the de facto slavery of institutionalized taxation without representation of a large and growing sector of the American working class.

  6. Mark,

    I’d choose a different word than slavery, since no one is requiring anyone to actually come here. People come here by choice, then complain about the rules. Slaves don’t have that option…


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