September 21, 2007
In Search of a Congress
If you were one of the Americans waiting for Congress, under Democratic control, to show leadership on the war in Iraq, the message from the Senate is clear: “Nevermind.” The same goes for those waiting for lawmakers to fix the damage done to civil liberties by six years of President Bush and a rubber-stamp Republican Congress.
The Democrats don’t have, or can’t summon, the political strength to make sure Congress does what it is supposed to do: debate profound issues like these and take a stand. The Republicans are simply not interested in a serious discussion and certainly not a vote on anything beyond Mr. Bush’s increasingly narrow agenda.
On Wednesday, the Senate failed to vote on two major bills. One would have restored basic human rights and constitutional protections to hundreds of foreigners who are in perpetual detention, without charges or trial. The other was the one measure on the conduct of the Iraq war that survived the Democrats’ hasty retreat after last week’s smoke-and-mirrors display by Gen. David Petraeus and President Bush.
There were votes, of course, but not on the bills. They were cloture votes, which require 60 or more Senators to agree to cut off debate, eliminating the possibility of a filibuster, so Senators can vote on the actual law. In both cases, Democrats were four votes short, with six Republicans daring to defy the White House.
The New York Times, more and more an irrelevancy, its editorial page reduced to the witchiness of one Maureen Dowd sputter after another, is now showing its ignorance over how Congress works.
Cloture takes 60 votes in the Senate. There are 49 Democrats and 2 independents (and one of those is the squirrelly Joe Liberman). THEY DON'T HAVE THE VOTES TO FORCE A CLOTURE. Go after Lieberman, he voted nay both times. Congress has a well-earned 11% approval rating, but the American public seems to think they voted in an overriding majority and they didn't. What they voted in was a sure way to stymie any real progress and then they (and the NYTimes) bitch about being stymied.