Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oy. Wasn't there some kind of revolution in Washington?

It seems to me that Glenn Greenwald explained the nonsense in the Senate best.
Harry Reid -- who has (a) done more than any other individual to ensure that Bush's demands for telecom immunity and warrantless eavesdropping powers will be met in full and (b) allowed the Republicans all year to block virtually every bill without having to bother to actually filibuster -- went to the Senate floor yesterday and, with the scripted assistance of Mitch McConnell and Pat Leahy, warned Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold and others that they would be selfishly wreaking havoc on the schedules of their fellow Senators (making them work over the weekend, ruining their planned "retreat," and even preventing them from going to Davos!) if they bothered everyone with their annoying, pointless little filibuster.

To do so, Reid announced that, unlike for the multiple filibusters from Republican colleagues, he would actually force Dodd and company to engage in a real filibuster. This is what Reid said:
[I]f people think they are going to talk this to death, we are going to be in here all night. This is not something we are going to have a silent filibuster on. If someone wants to filibuster this bill, they are going to do it in the openness of the Senate.
That is what Democrats have been urging Reid to do to the filibustering Republicans all year -- in order to dramatize their obstructionism -- but he has refused to make them actually filibuster anything, generously agreeing instead that every bill requires 60 votes. Instead, he reserves such punishment only for the members of his own caucus trying to take a stand for the rule of law and the Constitution, those who are trying finally to bring some accountability to this administration.
So, I looked up a guy in Nevada with my name, and sent an email to our Democratic (?) leader. I took the advice of Nicole Belle on Crooks & Liars, and went low-key and polite. Nonetheless, I somehow suspect that I'm going to be ignored again.
Mr Reid,

I'm curious. Why is it that you have consistently and generously allowed the Republicans to pretend to filibuster with a mere 60 votes? It seems to me that forcing them to actually stand up and perform a filibuster would highlight their obstructionism, at a time when they appear to be actively preventing the Democrats from doing anything.

But now, when Democratic Senators are attempting to prevent the White House from giving immunity to the telecom providers who broke the law (thereby forever extinguishing any hope of investigating and obtaining accountability for the President's illegal spying programs), you insist that they actually perform a filibuster, and you have a little skit with McConnell and Leahy about how terrible it would be to work a little longer, and maybe miss their all-important retreat?

These don't seem like the actions of a Democratic leadership interested in bringing long-neglected oversight to an over-stepping White House. Could you please explain to me why you decided that these would be the actions you'd take?

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