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Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Senate Situation Through the Looking Glass

Because its all topsy-turvy all the time for our corporate-militarist punditocrats you probably are very excited to see whether or not the Democrats can miraculously "pull off" the feat of achieving a 60-seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate through nail-bitingly last-minute successes in Alaska (I expect so), Minnesota (I'm cautiously optimistic), and Georgia (I doubt it).

All very well. But now look what happens to the story if we flip the script and respect the actually-existing realities presently in play:

The twice humiliated Republican minority is desperately flailing to maintain the starkest bare minimum 42 seats it needs to invoke cloture. This it is struggling to do in a deeply fractious caucus that has lost most of its moderates and so lost touch with the mainstream and now is filled with wounded peevish often not-very-bright out-of-touch reactionaries with something to prove to their even more zealous bases, who might get them re-elected in local elections but aren't doing a Party hoping to remain relevant on a national terrain any favors at all.

Under such circumstances (the best case still available to Republicans and under threat for all that), all that any Republican at all has to do is threaten to defect to an even only moderately disciplined and united majority Democratic front on any issue whatsoever and the Republican leadership must either cave to whatever demands ensue or lose right there any hope at all of having any impact on policy whatsoever. Hence, already rightly tarred with the brush of corruption and obstructionism and extremism the Republicans find themselves in circumstances that will expose them almost irresistably to behaving in corrupt, compromised ways with their most extreme, obstructionist and marginalizing members in order to try to get anything done on their terms at all.

Funny, but those don't seem even remotely to be the way the stakes are getting framed in most of the corporate-militarist mediated narratives I'm seeing.

1 comment:

jimf said...

> Wishing Makes It True!
> Speaking of topsy-turvy, here's Chris Cillizza on "Five Myths"
> about Election 2008. I shit you not, the "five myths"
> are, I'm quoting now,
> 1. The Republican Party suffered a death blow.
> . . .
> But, people, people, step back and get a glimpse of
> the big picture here. There is simply no good news for
> Republicans this year, and -- . . . History has
> handed them their hats.

Would that it were so, but I'm inclined to doubt it.

The Democrats have been fighting to remain a viable
opposition party in this country since the end of
the Roosevelt era. Yes, they've had a few victories --
the charismatic Kennedy in 1960, and his surprisingly
(for a Southern Democrat) progressive successor,
Lyndon Johnson.

But if the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal in
1973 didn't put an end to the Republicans, then I
can't imagine that Bush II and Iraq have done so
either. Vietnam was **vastly** more unpopular than
Iraq. A Rand Corporation insider was willing to risk
prison to reveal to the public the ineffectuality
of US policy in Southeast Asia (the Ellsberg story
is recounted most recently in ;
he **would** have gone to prison if it hadn't been
for the same bungling White House "plumbers" that
eventually took down the Nixon administration).

OK, yeah, after Nixon we had the rebound Democratic presidency of
Jimmy Carter. So what did the Republicans do?
They forged an alliance with the Christian right
and made the 80's the era of Reagan-Bush.
The Democrats were kicked out again after a single term.

Then we had another Kennedy-esque charmer by the
name of Bill Clinton who managed to bring himself
to the verge of impeachment over a (ludicrous, to
sophisticated Europeans) sex scandal (in contrast to the near
Constitutional crisis that led to Nixon's downfall).
That's all it took to usher in Bush II.

So what do we have now? Another (dare I say)
Kennedy-esque charmer. Who got in by a stroke of luck
(if you can call it luck) -- the unravelling of the
US financial markets shortly before the election.
His victory does not change the fact that this
country (dragged down by the South and Midwest) is
not as enlightened as megalopolis-dwellers (and
Europeans) might wish. The drift of generations --
toward greater secularity, sophistication about
diversity (including sexual diversity), and so on,
is just that -- a drift. Whole generations have
to be laid safely in their graves for the kind
of coalition that made the Republicans resurgent
in the 80's to become unviable. Obama could be
out again as fast as you can say "9/11" -- count
on it.

(I wonder how much political capital he can afford
to squander in order to put an end to "Don't ask,
don't tell.")