Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Today's Senate Filibuster Challenge

Senate Democrats have launched the Senate into an all-night debate over Iraq:
Democrats steered the Senate into an attention-grabbing, all-night session to dramatize opposition to the Iraq war but conceded they were unlikely to gain the votes needed to advance troop withdrawal legislation blocked by Republicans.

"Our enemies aren't threatened by talk-a-thons, and our troops deserve better than publicity stunts," said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.

McConnell and many other Republicans favor waiting until September before considering any changes to the Bush administration's current policy. They have vowed to block a final vote on the Democrats' attempt to require a troop withdrawal to begin within 120 days.
I think it's pretty reasonable to agree that whether 30 hours of continuous debate is a political stunt or a necessary filibuster-breaking tactic depends upon one's partisan preferences.

On the other hand, I do really have to wonder why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thinks this particular tactic has even the slightest chance to be successful. The most notorious recent usage of the 30 hour rule was an unsuccessful effort by the Senate Republicans to block a Democratic filibuster against President Bush's judicial nominees -- Miguel Estrada in particular. Let me restate that: the Democrats were willing to "go to the matresses" to prevent a handful of wealthy, powerful lawyers from becoming slightly more wealthy and somewhat more powerful lawyers. Now the Democrats are expecting the same treatment to push the Republicans into allowing a democratic ally of the United States to be surrendered to a not-improbable mixture of anarchy, civil war, mass terror, ethnic cleansing or genocide. A Republican Senator would have to be one of the most craven cowards ever born to be bullied by the Democrats like that.

Alternatively, look at the situation in another way. Suppose you are a Republican Senator. Harry Reid is offering you a choice tonight. You can have a long string of sleepless nights because (a) Harry Reid and the Democrats want to tell you how evil and cruel you are, or (b) you caved on Iraq and condemned a nation of millions to mass terror, anarchy, and slaughter. Which would you pick?


Blogger William said...

It's already a nation of mass murder, terror and anarchy.

Don't you read the newspapers?

10:22 AM  
Blogger Joseph said...

Barack Obama seems to think the situation in Iraq could get a lot worse if United States forces withdrawal ("Obama: Don’t stay in Iraq over genocide").

5:40 PM  

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