Not for the first time, I find myself seeing the Democrats’ strategy to be as clear as mud. From what I can tell, they wanted the Republicans to filibuster the Defense Appropriations Act. What do I base this on? Partly it is the fact that the White House didn’t put on a full-court press to get it passed. A bigger signal is that the Democrats didn’t come out swinging that the GOP was endangering the troops. And then there is this:
After [her] call [with vice-president Joe Biden], [Sen. Susan] Collins went to the Senate floor to plead with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid one last time for what she calls an open process that allows her colleagues to offer amendments to change the bill. A spokesman for Reid made clear to us, no deal. Democrats insist Republicans will in fact have ample opportunity to offer amendments – after the election.
Now let me be clear about something. Sen. Collins was being completely disingenuous. She found an easy excuse to vote against both the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and The DREAM Act by complaining about procedure. She is more guilty than the Democrats of allowing policy she supports to die for cynical partisan purposes. All she had to do is vote her conscience and those policies would be law. The White House merely called her bluff. They couldn’t convince her to buck her party, but that was no reason to cave to her demands.
Still, it appears that the Democrats were fine with this outcome. And, I guess I can’t fully discern why they are okay with it. If they think they can use this as a cudgel against the Republicans in the midterm elections, they haven’t shown me how they plan to wield that cudgel. If the roles were reversed, the Republicans would have screamed to high heaven that the Democrats were defunding our troops in the field. Is that coming? Because I saw no evidence of it today.
If this is all part of setting up the next chapter in the election-season narrative, then I guess that will become clear soon enough. But, for now, the whole thing seems inexplicable.