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November 15, 2005
Obstructionism

Okay, I had a lot of 'tude there earlier. I'd apologize, but it looks like I'm not the only one getting perilously close to the absolute end of their patience.

Stephen counsels some major obstructionism.

I proposed back then that House and Senate Democrats stop running from Republican charges that they are being obstructionists, and instead turn obstructionism into a virtue. When Republicans accuse them of obstructing administration plans, programs or appointees, instead of launching into some convoluted, triangulated response, just thank them for the compliment.

I'd almost support that.

And if the Democrats could find someone with a voice (how pathetic is it that there are so few prominent Democrats who can insure coverage on the evening news?) who could tell the country why they were doing what they were doing, I think a lot of people might get behind it.

I'm not sure it would be the right thing to do, in the long run, though.

And it would take guts.

If Senate Republicans try blackmailing Democrats out of filibustering Alito by trying to change Senate rules -- the "nuclear option" -- and limiting the filibuster, Democrats should shut the whole damn place down again, just as Harry Reed did two weeks ago.

Then, behind closed doors, tell Republicans that if they persist with the nuclear option, Democrats will shut the Senate down everyday from that day forward until they relent. Nothing will get done. (Which is a win in itself, considering most of what the administrations wants to get done shouldn't get done anyway.)

But real obstructionism is not for sissies. Democrats are going to have to be ready to confront the GOP counterattacks. They will accuse Democrats of everything from hurting our troops overseas, to giving aid and comfort to terrorists, to putting all Americans at risk, to flat out accusing them of being unpatriotic.

Part of me loves the idea, especially if they confine such drastic counter-measures as responses to the Right's most objectionable behavior...like trying to change how Congress itself functions or voting for more tax cuts for the rich while they're slashing aid and assistance programs for the needy.

But it's a dangerous weapon and shouldn't be used lightly. Remember...anything that can be done "for the greater good" by the Democrats today can be twisted and used in retribution by the Radical Right Republicans tomorrow. (Nixon - crook - threat of impeachment. Clinton - Democrat - threat of impeachment.)

And part of me remembers how many millions of taxpayer dollars the Republicans wasted in the '90s, pitching hissy fits over Clinton and desperately trying to get the country to support an impeachment move.

I didn't really approve of it, neither the obsession with bringing Clinton down nor the determination to prevent the Federal government from functioning. (Of course, that was largely because anyone viewing the situating objectively, which I was since I was largely apolitical at the time, couldn't see anything remotely impeachable about Clinton and all of the foaming-at-the-mouth coming from the Right just made them look stupid and kind of scary.)

I'm rational enough to see that, to the partisan eye, it's possible to make comparisons between what some of us on the Left want done to Bush and what the Republican leadership tried to do to Clinton.

I'm of the opinion that there are substantive differences in the situations, but it's just barely possible for me (if I squint, tilt my head, and turn off my brain) how someone highly partisan and on the defensive could draw parallels.

Quite honestly, I'd rather see the Democrats struggling, as publicly as possible, to do something and failing because of Republican obstructionism, than to see them being themselves obstructionist.

The key is as publicly as possible.

______________________________


(You'll be glad when I get a job again and don't have so much time on my hands, won't you?)

Posted by AnneZook at 08:48 AM


Comments

"(Nixon - crook - threat of impeachment. Clinton - Democrat - threat of impeachment.)"

You've said that before, and I've never totally gotten your point. While revenge may have been a factor, surely it was a fairly minor one? I should think the Republicans were mostly motivated by two things:

1.) The desire to hurt Clinton.

2.) The certainty that Clinton had committed a crime.

By the way, as near as I know, the fact is Clinton did a commit a crime - he perjured himself during sworn testimony. One can argue that the Republicans were making a mountain of a molehill (perhaps for reason #1) but I wouldn't want to argue that Clinton was blameless. Clinton screwed up, all the time. I recall being angry at him for about 7 and half years because he had such a great opportunity to do good and he constantly frittered it away.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at November 15, 2005 04:42 PM

Lawrence - I think, in trying to understand my contempt for the Right during that whole thing, it's important for you to remember that I think Clinton's personal life should have been far out-of-bounds for that inquiry.

Investigating a potential crime is one thing, but targeting a man for a bit of illicit sex because you couldn't nail him on a bigger charge was just petty.

And, no, I'm not excusing his perjury. But the question he perjured himself on should never have come up. I'm discussing the investigation separately from his testimony that day. (I think it has to be said...he was under a heckuva lot of pressure for a long time...the fact that he slipped one day and told one relatively minor lie about a personal matter? Does not strike me as all that serious. At the same time, perjury is perjury.)

Also? The Right spent millions and millions of dollars, determined to prove Clinton had committed a crime. The investigation started with the flimsiest of evidence and there was never any real sign that they were going to uncover any real wrongdoing.

It was all just the Republican Attack Machine in action. Furious that GHWB had lost re-election, the Right was determined not to lose the reins of power entirely. They had a good chance of winning Congress at the mid-terms and needed the publicity to convince the public that Republicans were safeguarding the morality of the country.

Sex sells. Newspapers and television news programs that would probably have tired of the pointless investigation into nonexistent white-collar fraud were salivating at the idea of a major sex 'scandal' coming out of the White House. Morphing the story into one about Clinton getting a blow job kept the story at the top of the news cycle for easily two or three times as long.

But, you know, it's all just my opinion.

Posted by: Anne at November 16, 2005 08:45 AM

Also? Thinking further, I think it's important to remember that yes, some Republicans may have pushed to investigate Clinton because they thought there was evidence of criminal behavior, but that evidence was never strong and the subsequent investigation never really looked like it was going to turn up anything. This is why the whole thing morphed into a sex scandal, because there was no actual criminal behavior they could nail Clinton on.

However it started out, it ended up as a witchhunt.

Posted by: Anne at November 18, 2005 09:23 AM