Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Big win today for Dems, country

During the past five years it's been a rare thing for the Republican controlled government to be forced into any action it didn't want to take, any action beyond its own narrow political self-interest.

Of late that's been changing, at least for individuals, as Republican after Republican, Frist, DeLay, Libby, Safahvian, Noe, Abramoff, et al. etc. are being increasingly scrutinized, investigated, indicted, arrested, fo a variety of reasons that fit under the wide umbrella term: corruption. (Talk about your "Big Tent" party, though I've never seen one that needed prison bars before).

But today, Lighthorse Harry Reid, Senate minority leader served the Republican Senate as a whole by effectively shutting down business until the GOPers agreed to review the long overdue status of the Senate investigation into BushCorp™'s misleading drumbeat for the war in Iraq.

A nice recap of today's events here.

Joe Gandelman over at The Moderate Voice has a typically evenhanded and clear-eyed view of some of the political ramifications, read the whole thing, but here's a taste:

They say it's wise to pick and choose your battles, and amid news reports suggesting that Democrats are increasingly hesitant to use the filibuster against conservative Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, Minority Leader Harry Reid gave the GOP a sucker punch that reminded everyone that a minority party can still pack a political wallop.

Seldom has a political leader pulled off such a well-timed and well-executed maneuver.

And seldom has any political leader looked as genuinely outraged — and utterly hapless — as Majority Leader Bill Frist, who may be a few hairs away from facing a rebellion in GOP ranks over his less-than-iron-fisted Senate leadership. (Why is Trent Lott smiling these days?)

Harry Reid looked sincerely stern and outraged, Frist looked flummoxed (this'll make nice anti-Frist footage someday, in the event that Frist's Presidential ambitions aren't entirely destroyed by the ongoing SEC investigation).

And sure it was a political move. What, in Washington isn't? Indeed it served to put BushCorp™'s pre-war lies back into the spotlight where they belong. If you're not a Freeper that's good news.

And more importantly Reid's move force Republican Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts to pull his thumb out of his ass, where it's been resting warmly for a year and a half, and finally report on the administration's mis-use of what's been proven to be faulty data.

A progress report is NOW due November 14th. It could've been done LAST November 14th.

My main quibble is as to why elected Democrats haven't take such forceful steps before. My guess is that today saw a perfect storm of need and opportunity.

-Polls suggest the American public has finally caught on to BushCorp™'s failures of intelligence, honesty, and integrity.
-Fitzgerald's indictment of Libby made clear what a prosecuter can and can not do. His press comments on Friday fairly begged for a political investigation to supplement his criminal one.
-Bush's nomination of the hard-right conservative judge Samuel Alito had two affects on the timing on Reid's move.
1) The need to re-capture the news cycle (and like it or not that has to be a real consideration nowadays) and;
2) To fire a shot across Senate Republicans' bow: threats, counter-threats, and counter-counter-threats of Democratic filibuster, followed by Republican "Nuclear" option, followed by a grinding halt to all non-essential Senate business (i.e. MOST Senate business), all such are very real possibilities. It's important Republicans understand just how miserable even outnumbered Democrats can make their lives.

My hope is that, as tempers cool, the Republican leadership will recognize the widom of this lesson. And combined with the certain knowledge that Bush's incredible shrinking poll numbers provide them with zero political leverage, they may find a way to back away from the far right precipice upon which they are currently perched.

And my hope is further, that should Republicans, as seems to me more likely, fail to see the wisdom of increased moderation, Reid's action today will not be regarded as an anomally, but as the start of the rise of the fighting Democratic party.

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