Monday, July 16, 2007

Governance as Theatre

I have to congratulate Senator Harry Reid for having the common sense and the uncommon gumption of forcing an actual filibuster on the Reed-Levin amendment on a phased withdrawal of most combat formations from Iraq by April of 2008. The procedure that Sen. Reid will use will require sixty votes to end debate and if the debate is not ended, then at least thirty more hours of debate before another cloture attempt can be made.

This is simple politics and good politics. The Republicans have successfully been using the threat of staying up all night reading the phone book to shut down the Senate. That is their right, but the right of the majority of the Senate is to actually force the Republicans to read from the phone book when there is an opportunity to start restricting the option and policy space of George W. Bush.

Now there are a couple of things to start looking for to see the size of the blank check caucus --- 1) Do all fifty Democrats vote for cloture (I am excluding Lieberman as he is all-war, all the time)

2) How many Republican defectors are picked up on the first cloture vote? Do the recently decent sounding pronouncements from the Domiccis, and Greggs et al mean anything, or will they still rubber stamp their support for complete freedom for George W. Bush?

3) Will Reid force several cloture votes? If he does, will there be any fade-off of the Republican caucus?

4) How much of an uptick in Congressional approval will be gained as committed Democratic partisans reward the Senate Democrats for actually trying to do the job that they were elected for?

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