Here’s a shocker, coming from David Broder:
Now that the Minnesota Supreme Court has ended the long count on the 2008 Senate race by awarding the seat to Al Franken, Democrats — at least on paper — have the power to pass whatever bills they want, without a single Republican vote.
Nothing would be a bigger mistake.
What if, pray tell David, there are no Republican votes to be had? What if, for example, the Republicans stay united in opposing a public option to the health care bill or insist on watering down the climate/energy bill in the Senate to a point where it cannot pass in conference form through the House? Broder never answers these types of questions when he is penning one hagiography after another to the Saint of Bipartisanship.
Why is the onus always on the Democrats to be bipartisan?
Franken, the loud-mouthed former comedian, will be the 60th member of the Senate Democratic caucus — just enough for them to cut off any filibuster threat if they can muster all their members. With solid majorities in both houses, the Democratic leaders, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, could dismiss Republican objections to any bill without a second thought.
Yet that would not only contradict President Obama’s promise to change the partisan climate in Washington but would also entail unnecessary risks to Obama’s ambitious policy goals.
Never mind that the Democratic caucus includes members like Arlen Specter, Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and Mary Landrieu who are not reliable cloture votes. Never mind that Teddy Kennedy and Robert Byrd are in ill-health and have spent little recent time in the Senate. Even if the Democrats could ram home whatever legislation they wanted, Broder would oppose them for the simple reason that they rammed it home.
What about the merits of the policies? Why does Broder never, ever, seem to take policy differences seriously. If the Republicans want input on legislation, shouldn’t they be required to make a commitment to vote in favor of it once their input has been incorporated? Or should the Democrats water down bills in an effort to win Republican support even after it has been demonstrated that that support will not be forthcoming?
Al Franken might occasionally mouth-off, but he at least cares about policy. He’d made a good columnist at the Washington Post if the Post ever decided to hire ‘serious’ columnists.
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