The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, March 21, 2005
 

Senate Dems AWOL on Schiavo, natch


Reference to the roll call page will find it innocent of any vote on the Terri Schiavo bill S 686.

In order to achieve passage in the Senate, several filibusterable motions needed to pass, and were passed with unanimous consent. Not to mention the votes on the bill itself, which passed with voice votes.

So far as I'm aware, no Democratic Senator made any attempt to impede passage of this odious bill.

The justification, it seems, for the Democratic leadership's strategy of masterly inactivity on the Schiavo circus is that the Republicans are on the wrong side of public opinion, and that, by eliminating one potential GOP line of defence, the absence of Dem politicking now will make their ultimate fate all the direr.

One can see why this strategy would appeal to anti-abortionist and serial doormat Harry Reid, the Democrats' (I laughingly call) 'Leader'.

But surely one or two maverick Dem senators could have had a bash: Barbara Boxer, for instance, who I suspect has decided to not seek re-election. And the eminently conservative arguments - on states' rights, for instance - would be piquant for a liberal to run.

Under Rule XXII, the Easter break would have counted against the Barnums: Frist would have needed 60 votes for cloture however few Dems were in the trenches on the other side.

(Compare the Ohio shenanigan at the start of the session: that was clearly going to achieve nothing but slight annoyance; whereas it's conceivable that the Senate could have been tied up long enough for the Schiavo bill to become moot.)

One certain way of reducing the surplus population would be for every American to hold his breath until the Senate Dems did the right thing for once.

The strategy for the session seems to be to wait for a suitable judicial confirmation as the occasion for launching an all-out Dem attack [1], and to keep up morale by pointing at the administration's social security difficulties. Meanwhile all sorts of legislative obscenities more or less sail through.

Now, I yield to no one in cynicism about politics; and I've learned that some things that just seem dumb (the Federal homo-marriage amendment, for instance, or the Swifties' travesty) find paydirt. So, if Reid's strategy were to result in the return of the Senate to Dem control in the 110th Congress [2], I would not exactly be dumbstruck.

Just to note that the opportunity costs in atrocious bills passed (eg the bankruptcy bill S256) that might have been delayed will have to be reckoned, too.

  1. One might call it the bee strategy in that it supposes that the Dems, like the bee, only have one sting in them. Of course, the bee dies after he has stung. No analogy is perfect. Necessarily.

  2. But - as Dorothy Parker almost said - how could we tell?


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