Sunday, January 22, 2006

Confirm Alito -- Filibuster the Patriot Act

After posting Democrats would surely filibuster Alito, the Senate Judiciary hearings came and went; and I began to doubt my forecasting skills. Something wasn’t adding up -- too quiet on the home front!

In fact, subsequent to watching the relative ease with which Roberts was confirmed, and the ineffectual questions posed by Democrats during the Alito hearings, liberals and progressives are now gearing up to suck it up, yet one more time, and watch Alito be approved.

Yes, behind all the bravada that all is not lost yet, keep the faith, sign this petition or that one, all but the most extreme dyed-in-the-wool liberals see the writing on the wall, and are busy making plans for the aftermath.

But in an act of genius, the number one progressive blogger on the Web, Daily Kos, makes a case for filibustering by showcasing the analysis of another blogger, on the opposite side of the political spectrum, Red State.

The argument goes something like this: Democrats will lose nothing by filibustering, if at the same time they ensure the cloture motion ulimately wins. That is, enough Democrats are given a pass to ostensibly vote against their party, so that the nuclear option is never released.

Kos seems to agree with Red that this approach might be a win-win situation for Democrats, for in preparing for the fall elections, Democrats can then parade their gravitas on the issues of unchecked presidential power, warrant-less survellaince and choice for women in one fell swoop with the name of Alito as their poster boy.

In other words, the Red/Kos scenario is all show and dough, with payoffs in November with Democratic wins; and to that end, the cloture vote is designed to advance fall prospects by targeting one endangered Republican senator up for reelection, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island.

The cloture vote would force Chafee to pick one side of the argument; and unfortunately, both sides are problematic for him.

In a "damn if I do, and damn if I don’t" conundrum, if Chafee fails to vote for cloture, he then suffers in the upcoming primary from his challenger to the right; and if he votes for cloture, he gets whacked from the Democratic candidate in the fall.

Like Red/Kos, I don’t think Alito has 60 votes in the Senate; in fact I’d be willing to bet he gets no more than 57 votes, proving the Dems have the firepower to force the issue; but by not filibustering, they can make strategic hay at a later time.

And just what supreme battle is more important than a lifetime appointment to the Highest Court? Well, how about a Democratic takeover of both chambers of Congress, or at minimum, the House?

Can you spell impeachment? I thought you could.

Yes, one way to frame the fall elections is around the idea of run-away executive power by the administration, and failure of Republicans to hold the White House accountable, as eloquently explicated by former-Vice President Al Gore last Monday.

The Alito fight is one Democrats would probably lose. So what better way to make some of the same political points than to filibuster renewal of the Patriot Act? That is, until Democratic provisions are placed in the bill that protect the privacy of all American citizens, provisions the administration is surely not to like.

No more search engine peek-a-boos, or as Maureen Dowd of the New York Times calls “ogling [her] Googling.” No more “warrant-less surveillance” of private citizens, simply because they disagree with the White House. No more eavesdropping on the private telephone conversations of Americans. No more rummaging through taxpayers’ library records. NO MAS!

Republicans are in a bit of a political pickle; they are weaker today than they were before Christmas. Why waste energy and capital in a meaningless filibuster maneuver with no intent of carrying out when the real McCoy is at our doorstep?

Threat of a Patriot Act filibuster offers Democrats the best chance to politically wound Pres. Bush and his party right smack in the cajones ; and right after they collegially voted “no” to Alito but allowed the vote to proceed.

By this strategic switcheroo, the public face of the Senate will be one of congeniality and nobleness. Saving the republic, while making their case to voters why it is urgent they elect Democrats to Congress in November.

Let's face it, if Democrats don’t start winning elections, and soon, more than the Supreme Court will be lost!

Eleanor Clift has an article today about Gore (not-so) secretly wishing for a groundswell of anit-Bush passion to propell a Gore2008 movement.

Should we pick our battles and leave confirmations as coronations? If, and this is a very big if, we can take back the House and Senate, it'll have been worth it.

Still, as Senator Frist said this week: Alito on the supreme court is a nightmare for America.
Dear Latina,
You should come to the next Sunday Supper Club meeting in Warrenton. There is one coming up in early February. See for time and date.
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