Friday, November 14, 2008

Do The Democrats Even Deserve A Filibuster-Proof Majority?


I hope Jim Martin beats Saxby Chambliss. I hope he beats him by a lot. Chambliss is one of the worst members on the Senate, both in terms of his unbelievably extremist voting record and in terms of his utter disregard for even the vaguest sense of personal ethics. Lately he's taken to defending his putrid ad against Max Cleland, which even John McCain denounced as reprehensible and is now running a similar a similar smear tactic against Jim Martin. As much as his ad campaigns, Chambliss himself is reprehensible. And, like I said above, I hope Martin defeats him.

So why no fundraising campaign here? Jim Martin actually meets the criteria we use at Blue America. He's not just better than Chambliss-- after all, it would be hard for anyone not to be better than that venal slug-- Jim Martin's vision for America is pretty progressive and very much geared towards serving the needs of the working families ignored over the past 8 and 6 years, respectively by George Bush and Saxby Chambliss. But we're just going to let President-elect Obama and the Senate Democratic caucus win this one on their own. Let them put up the money and go for that 60-vote filibuster-proof majority if they really want it. (I have my doubts that they do, since it would leave them with no excuses if they fail to deliver on their campaign promises and on the expectations of the voters.)

And whether they really want it or not, do they even deserve it? The Senate Democratic caucus-- which includes reactionary scumbags like Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor, and Ben Nelson-- is sickening, cowardly and next-to-worthless. Patrick Leahy is the ONLY member of the caucus with the balls to publicly state that the treacherous Joe Lieberman doesn't deserve to be given the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. "I’m one who does not feel someone should be rewarded with a major chairmanship after what he did." (Listen.) Alas, he's the only one so far. At least the vote won't be unanimous. Too bad the voters of Connecticut don't get a say. In a new poll that came out this morning, most Connecticut voters express so much dissatisfaction with Lieberman that it's next to impossible to see him ever winning an election there again. If the voters there could re-do the 2006 election today 59% would vote for Ned Lamont and only 34% would vote for Lieberman. And if loses his chairmanship and then jumps to the GOP only 31% of Connecticut voters say they would favor his re-election.

So what to do? Well, it's clear to me that the Democratic caucus should start acting with some degree of self-respect and, at the minimum, take away his chair. If they do, we'll do whatever we can to help get Jim Martin elected. Meanwhile, I want to suggest that the ones siding with the caucus' reactionaries watch Rachel Maddow's explanation and pay attention to her suggestions. She's got it right-- much more so than hack political reporter Ron Brownstein, who is urging the Democrats to step on the people who elected them and to instead govern like less extreme Republicans.

It looks like we were correct a few days ago when we predicted that a small handful of progressive Democrats would stand up against the inherent conservative inertia that makes the world's most exclusive club nearly worthless. Bernie Sanders just joined Patrick Leahy in opposing Lieberman's demand that he get the Homeland Security chair to prevent him from becoming (officially) a Republican. Most of the cowards, led by reactionary Evan Bayh, are wimpering that an "apology" is enough for them. Bernie:
"To reward Senator Lieberman with a major committee chairmanship would be a slap in the face of millions of Americans who worked tirelessly for Barack Obama and who want to see real change in our country.

"Appointing someone to a major post who led the opposition to everything we are fighting for is not 'change we can believe in.' I very much hope that Senator Lieberman stays in the Democratic caucus and is successful in regaining the confidence of those whom he has disappointed. This is not a time, however, in which he should be rewarded with a major committee chairmanship."

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At 2:14 PM, Blogger VG said...

Howie, I agree with your call. I've always felt that Martin got his arm twisted by the GA Dem party, and from the get go it's been all about money- never a grassroots campaign.

I'll vote for Martin in the runoff, and I hope he wins. He seems to be a good man.

But I am totally with you on using BA resources to support grassroots progressive candidates who are not the darlings of DSCC (or DCCC).

Oh yeah, they may be getting out the "big guns"- *g*- why just yesterday I got an email from James Carville via the Martin list.

At 5:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quick question on Holy Joe: why haven't the citizens of Connecticut mounted a recall on him? From what I've been given to understand, his lack of popularity would seem to point to plenty of potential signatures.

As for a filibuster-proof majority, it isn't going to happen: too many Blue Dogs in them thar parts. They'd better start coalition building across the aisle, though it wouldn't surprise me a bit if all this talk about filibusters is just a way for Reid and company to attempt ducking responsibility for their standard cave-in to the Republicans on all issues.

At 9:16 AM, Blogger vegofish said...

although i have often disagreed with liebermans politics, he, to be frank, has the only set of cojones in the senate. the left is acting like he sold secrets to the iranians. treacherous? traiterous?
come on, he had the balls to stand up to left wing extremism. thats it. you clowns will do whatever you can to hurt lieberman, who is a true statesmen, while your deranged cohorts are doing everything they can to send al franken to the senate, now that is not change we need. you 1st grade mentality left wingers will inflict more damage on this country in two years than bush could do in a hundred. obama doesnt stand a chance with this kind of mentality running loose in congress.

At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo! Best imitation of a rightwing nutjob that has been seen, here, in over a week. I especially like the toss-in of "left wing extremism" out of nowhere, like one of Dr. Seuss' fanciful walkways that loop around six times before deadending in mid-space. Quite clever of you, and not in the least bit exaggerated, like the real fringe loonies. :)

At 4:50 PM, Blogger KELSO'S NUTS said...

Howie: Jim Martin is "la gota lila," the real thing. He'd be the ONLY progressive Senator from Georgia in my 47 years drawing breath. He'd join Jack Reed and George McGovern as the only progressive military guys in the Senate in my life. And he'd also join Jack Reed and George McGovern as the only military guys who never expected the whole world to bow down at their feet because of it or to use their service as a political sword and shield at the same time.

Hagel, Kerrey, Kerry, and McCain have actually been past-masters at those mawkish and bathetic arts.

My interest in the US military extends to how well the VA is funded and that's it. There's no winning or losing any of these wars because they're meant to be continuous. I do know this, I've known a lot of people who've seen action in the US armed forces, those of other countries, or who have fought in civil wars or been victims of "dirty wars," and they all have one thing in common. They never say one word about what happened.

That's how bad it is. But somehow I don't think even Barack Obama gives a good goddamn about them. He, too, is only interested in "the surge" or if "we're" winning. For shame.

Meanwhile, every other politician trades on it like it's a good bond portfolio.

My question is why didn't Obama campaign for him when both Martin's election and Georgia for Obama were winnable?

Good analysis of Collins. I'd say the same goes for Snowe, Lugar and L Graham as well. There are no Republican "moderates."

You've highlighted all the very shaky Blue Dog Democratic senators and when/if Franken makes it, he'll probably be another. He's always been a huge military jock-sniffer and if there's a real difference between him and Coleman on the issues, I sure haven't seen it. One repeats Democratic boilerplate and believes it. The other repeats Republican boilerplate and it makes him sick but he has no choice.

Rachel Maddow is too polite, but no other Air America personality has been shy about saying what Franken was all about -- squeezing every last dime out of everybody and wearing a flag pin. Franken will be trouble.

If Begich squeaks it out, he's trouble, too, because he's a sitting duck for Palin.

I never thought 60 even without Lieberman was any big deal given how fractured the caucus is and how weak the leadership is. Harry Reid might as well be a Republican. Dick Durbin's views are fine, it's just that he's way too weak to lead. Pat Leahy's views and voting record are impeccable but he's another one who'll start crying the second someone disagrees with him. Boxer's views and votes are great but she can't argue that the sun rises in the East. She's a very valuable member of the caucus because her vote's not for sale and because she has a high shit threshold and can always out-raise her opponent. She's not a progressive LEADER, though. TK is great but he might not last the 111th, and heavy leadership and debate burdens are not what he needs. Sanders is dead tough but as an independent caucusing with the party, he's under some pressure of custom. Harkin's great but past his sell-by date. Dodd, too, and weirdly compromised in some K Street way like Harkin.

So, that leaves FEINGOLD, JACK REED, and SHELDON WHITEHOUSE as the only strong progressives in the Caucus. RON WYDEN is the only other possibility for some progressive muscle. JEFF MERKLEY looks like he'll be fantastic but not everyone is so great in their first Senate. In a lot of ways, Feingold's first Senate was kind of an ass-over-tea-kettle. He got stuck with McCain and that god-awful campaign finance mush only because Feingold was a rookie and McCain is the most hated person in the Senate.

PATTY MURRAY's voting record is fine but her expertise like MARIA CANTWELL's is in fund-raising not floor debate or investigation. BARBARA MIKULSKI completely lost her bearings after 9/11.

The rest are a decent, if uninspiring, mush. MENENDEZ is ok but compromised. KERRY's a tool. LAUTENBERG's too old. SCHUMER is a ward-boss and AIPAC man. SHAHEEN's new, from a weird state, having beaten a very tough opponent, and she's something of a state party regular, too. BINGHAMAN's a bit compromised by mining interest. The UDALLs are promising but new. The rest are BLUE DOGS with one more to come if Blagojevic selects Duckworth over Davis, Gutierrez, Jackson, Rush or Schakowsky.

So, that's three strong progressives, horrible leadership, and a president with no real need to do anything but show up on time.

In the best case scenario, Obama names Clinton Secretary Of State and Dean gets his shit together in time for Patterson to appoint him.

So, that 4 progressive and a big mess. What's so special about 60 under those conditions. The Democrats will get more votes from Shelby and Cochran than they will from their Blue Dogs on a lot of issues.

Once again, it's a great comfort when I'm in bed about to fall asleep thinking that my president is Martin Torrijos!


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