Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I Voted for It Before I Voted Against It, Part Deux
I called Herb Kohl's office this morning to ask why, if he planned to vote against Samuel Alito's nomination today, he voted to kill the filibuster yesterday. "The senator felt that further debate was not necessary," said the aide who answered the phone. Well, the necessity for more debate wasn't the point. The filibuster wasn't debate--it was a last-ditch parliamentary maneuver to stop a bad nomination. In the name of comity, or bipartisanship, or cluelessness, or some other damn thing, Kohl and 16 other Democrats chose not to support the only strategy that had a chance of working.

I was disappointed in Kohl, but not surprised. Kohl is a nominally progressive Democrat, but he's an old-school patrician Democrat, and not a people's liberal in the mold of Russ Feingold and Tammy Baldwin. So he has to be prodded occasionally to find his courage and do the right thing. Yesterday, he didn't have it, preferring instead to take a position on Alito that is intellectually incoherent. If the filibuster had no chance and therefore wasn't worth supporting, then he might just as well have voted for Alito this morning, too.

(Honesty compels me to report that his mild-mannered, get-along-to-go-along style is working for him. Wisconsin Republicans can't find anyone serious who wants to take the kamikaze mission of running against him this fall. The only Republican who'd have a chance of winning, former governor Tommy Thompson, is nowhere to be found. Tim Michels, who ran against Feingold in 2004, has said he won't make the race this time unless the party pays for it.)

But while we're smarting over Kohl's vote up here today, we shouldn't lose sight of the bigger picture. Digby observed this morning that 25 votes for a filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee is a very big deal. It may represent a major change in attitude on the part of prominent Democrats, who have had a habit of screwing the base to pander to the wishy-washy middle. Yesterday, all of the senators who want to be president voted against cloture in the end, rather than throwing in with the majority to prove to the Fox News crowd that they aren't really all that liberal. Imagine, voting with your base when the chips are down. What a concept.

(Note: I think the last time we had four posts on this blog in a single day was during Hurricane Katrina last fall. Don't get used to it.)

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?