Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Long Road Ahead

So the Scalito filibuster went down in flames, 72-25. Every Republican* voted "yes" on cloture; 18 Democrats joined them.

So the lefty blogosphere is awash in post-loss analysis. Digby is rather sanguine about it, thinks the 25** "no" votes were actually just as good if not better than we could have expected.

Kevin Drum is curious, and I detect, somewhat mocking of the lefty blogosphere's efforts and influence.

Jane, who did so much to inspire the effort, is grateful to those who supported the filibuster, thinks this effort was a shot across the bow of the Democratic establishment, and that we'll do better next time.

Amanda is pissed. So am I. And embarassed; 19 "yes" votes on cloture from the Democratic Party is an embarassment. Unlike Kevin Drum, I don't think this reflects badly on the lefty blogosphere, which, the last time I looked, wasn't running the country. But it does say something, loudly, about the distribution of power in the country and the nature of political debate. What it says is, we have a long way to go. It says that the progressive margin for error in Congress is much smaller than the nominal divide represented by the parties. While it's convenient to think the party only trails 55-44 in the Senate, the truth is the gap between conservatives and progressives is much wider than that. As we saw with the Bankruptcy "reform" votes, many Democratic Senators are not just from conservative states, they are in fact, conservative voters themselves.

Several of the Democratic "yes" votes on cloture were somewhat expected; Conrad, Dorgan, Johnson, Baucus, Landrieu, Ben Nelson. But I have trouble figuring many of the others; Lieberman, Cantwell, Bingaman, Carper, the two from Alaska, Bill Nelson, Byrd, Rockefeller, Kohl, Salazar, Lincoln and Pryor. Lieberman, Cantwell, Carper, the Alaska Two, and Kohl come from states that voted for Kerry; in Carper and Lieberman's cases, by a lot. Byrd and Bill Nelson are running for re-election, but Florida has only been a marginal Republican presidential state in recent years, while West Virginia, which has swung more dramatically to the Republican column in recent years, has just experienced 14 mining deaths, partly attributable to the lack of oversight, which someone of Alito's persuasion is not likely to rectify. Whose side are these guys on? And while Arkansas has also been more conservative of late, Bush's margin there was not significant. So what're Lincoln and Pryor afraid of?

In any event, as we look ahead to 2006 and beyond, how does Bob Casey in the Senate sound to you now? Not all that thrilling to me. What do you think his presence would bring us? Probably not much. How are we doing with other candidates?

Yes, Jane is correct to be gladdened by the outpouring of support from most of the lefty blogosphere on this, and for the Senate actions of Kerry and Kennedy in particular--Kennedy in particular showed the kind of passion and issue orientation we need in our future Senate and Presidential candidates (oh yeah, we had one before, Dean, but the media tore him down). Oh well.

But there's a long way to go, and the results in 2006 and 2008 are not likely to reverse the current trends in any significant way.

But while the road is long, we aren't going away either. We have just begun to fight.

*Nevada Senator John Ensign wasn't present to vote due to an auto accident.
**Tom Harkin abstained, Independent Jeffords voted "no".

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