Thursday, November 09, 2006

Majorities Matter...but only when they behave as a majority

Hugh Hewitt is my political guru. Read his latest column: The Road Not Taken: Forefeiting a Majority. Here is part of his take on what went wrong, in regards to the Republican majority not behaving like a majority:
In the Senate three turning points stand out.

On April 15, 2005 --less than three months after President Bush had begun a second term won in part because of his pledge to fight for sound judges-- Senator McCain appeared on Hardball and announced he would not support the "constitutional option" to end Democratic filibusters. Then, stunned by the furious reaction, the senator from Arizona cobbled together the Gang of 14 "compromise" that in fact destroyed the ability of the Republican Party to campaign on Democratic obstructionism while throwing many fine nominees under the bus. Now in the ruins of Tuesday there is an almost certain end to the slow but steady restoration of originalism to the bench. Had McCain not abandoned his party and then sabotaged its plans, there would have been an important debate and a crucial decision taken on how the Constitution operates. The result was the complete opposite. Yes, President Bush got his two nominees to SCOTUS through a 55-45 Senate, but the door is now closed, and the court still tilted left. A once-in-a-generation opportunity was lost.

A few months later there came a debate in the Senate over the Democrats' demand for a timetable for withdrawal for Iraq led to another half-measure: A Frist-Warner alternative that demanded quarterly reports on the war's progress, a move widely and correctly interpreted as a blow to the Administration’s Iraq policy. Fourteen Republicans voted against the Frist-Warner proposal --including Senator McCain-- and the press immediately understood that the half-measure was an early indicator of erosion in support for a policy of victory.

Then came the two leaks of national security secrets to the New York Times, and an utterly feckless response from both the Senate and the House. Not one hearing was held; not one subpoena delivered. A resolution condemning these deeply injurious actions passed the House but dared not name the New York Times. The Senate did not even vote on a non-binding resolution.

Nor did the Senate get around to confirming the president's authority to conduct warrantless surveillance of al Qaeda contacting its operatives in the United States. Weeks were taken up jamming the incoherent McCain-Kennedy immigration bill through the Judiciary Committee only to see it repudiated by the majority of Republicans, and the opportunity lost for a comprehensive bill that would have met the demand for security within a rational regularization of the illegal population already here.

And while the Senate twiddled away its days, crucial nominees to the federal appellate bench languished in the Judiciary Committee. The most important of them --Peter Keisler who remains nominated for the D.C. Circuit-- didn't even receive a vote because of indifference on the part of Chairman Specter.

(The National Review's Byron York wondered why the president didn't bring up the judges issue in the campaign until the last week, and then only in Montana. The reason was obvious: Senators DeWine and Chafee were struggling and any focus on the legacy of the Gang of 14 would doom DeWine's already dwindling chances while reminding the country of the retreat from principal in early '05.)

As summer became fall, the Administration and Senator Frist began a belated attempt to salvage the term. At exactly that moment Senators McCain and Graham threw down their still murky objections to the Administration’s proposals on the trial and treatment of terrorists. Precious days were lost as was momentum and clarity, the NSA program left unconfirmed (though still quite constitutional) and Keisler et al hung out to dry.

Throughout this two years the National Republican Senatorial Committee attempted to persuade an unpersuadable base that Lincoln Chafee was a Republican. For years Chafee has frustrated measure after measure, most recently the confirmation of John Bolton, even after Ahmadinejad threatened and Chavez insulted the United States from the UN stage. Chafee was a one-man wrecking crew on the NRSC finances, a drain of resources and energy, and a billboard for the idea that the Senate is first a club and only secondarily a body of legislators.

It is hard to conceive of how the past two years could have been managed worse on the Hill.

The presidential ambitions of three senators ended Tuesday night, though two of them will not face up to it.

The Republican Party sent them and their 52 colleagues to Washington D.C. to implement an agenda which could have been accomplished but that opportunity was frittered away.

The Republican Party raised the money and staffed the campaigns that had yielded a 55-45 seat majority, and the Republican Party expected the 55 to act like a majority. Confronted with obstruction, the Republicans first fretted and then caved on issue after issue. Had the 55 at least been seen to be trying --hard, and not in a senatorial kind of way-- Tuesday would have had a much different result. Independents, especially, might have seen why the majority mattered.



CJ at One Soldier's Perspective wrote about some of the accomplishments we don't hear about coming from Iraq. In addition, everyone should check out his book review of Bob Woodward's "State of Denial". It is a great review by an anti-anti-Administration reader of a book hyped as an anti-Administration critique.

5 Comments:

Blogger Gayle said...

Well Wordsmith, I'd say he was right on. I didn't see anything in there that I would disagree with.

That cartoon you posted at the end is extremely poignant. I sure hope Bush sticks to his guns and doesn't let the Dems screw everything up.

Thursday, November 09, 2006 8:09:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

Hugh Hewitt is so spot on with this commentary I couldn't help but post the entire thing.

The gang of 14, led by McCain and my own Senator Graham sure did drive the nail in the coffin of weak GOP leadership.

And that failure of leadership, as much as anything else, is why we lost.

The problem is that the McCains and Grahams didn't get that message on Nov. 7 and still feel that more of the same is a good idea.

There's only one way we can change that and it will be an awful fight, especially in SC where Graham's first term is up in 2008.

Thursday, November 09, 2006 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya Word..yes McCain sure did help us lose big time..but we have 2 years to straighten up and fly right ..so to speak..excellent research and post !

Thursday, November 09, 2006 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

These two years just maybe the wilderness McCain needs to realize how he was played for a fool by the Democrats who knew he wants to be President so fed him a line. But he has to admit that he was suckered and with his ego I doubt he will admit it. So good riddance to McCainianc. Ditto for Graham. The Democratic Senators with their majority do not need such as Graham and McCain unless it is to roadblock the other Republican Senators.

Bring on gridlock please, just to slow the Democrats down from their foolish notions and delusions.

Friday, November 10, 2006 9:04:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I like the way Hugh described McCain: "(That's why he's)a great American and a lousy senator and a terrible republican."

Start about 18 minutes into the audio.

Friday, November 10, 2006 9:40:00 AM  

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