Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Centrists on the Up or Down Vote

Jay Newton-Small put up a post called "Trigger Happy" at Swampland late this evening, in which she dutifully stenographs DLC-ers ideas on procedure:

...if you talk to centrists the only word you hear is trigger: there's the Snowe trigger, the “hair” trigger and something Senator Tom Carper, a centrist Delaware Democrat, is calling the “hammer.”

Carper is trying to build centrist unity around his idea in order to offer it as an alterative if and when the opt-out public option fails – a provision, he says, that just doesn't have the votes to pass the Senate. “We'll see what comes out of Reid's bill but I think at the end of the day we may need something along the lines of what I'm suggesting in order to finish debate on the bill and report [the bill] out,” Carper said.

Carper is meeting with centrists such as Joe Lieberman, Olympia Snowe, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh and Blanche Lincoln asking them what kind of a trigger they might vote for.
So the problem is preventing a Democratic filibuster of a Democratic bill, making sure that the centrists don't join together with the Republicans against the disorganized (and apparently brainless zombie) liberals, and that they will vote for cloture --ensuring that the bill gets a straight up and down vote:

“What we're asking centrists is: 'What concerns do you need to have addressed to vote for cloture?'” Carper said. “And the two concerns that we hear over and over again is government run and government financed.”

OK, "government run" is what the Republicans say over and over again like jack-in-the-boxes --check. "Government financed" is what the health insurance industry complains about over and over again --check.
Yep, they've just got to filibuster and obstruct the business of the Senate.

Hmm..."cloture"..."filibuster"..."straight up and down vote"... I'm sure I've read those words somewhere before...

The seven Republicans made a commitment to vote against a nuclear maneuver for the rest of this Congress. The seven Democrats agreed to reserve filibusters against judicial nominees to "extraordinary" cases, which aptly captures the extraordinary nature of filibusters themselves. The two sides compromised...[Nebraska Senator and New Democrat Ben] Nelson said[,] "Now the Senate can move forward and get to important business."

So...the last time it was beautiful and principled for centrist Democrats to join together with Republicans in an orgy of bipartisanship, it was to promise not to filibuster, so that "important business" could proceed.

Now, of course, they absolutely must filibuster health care reform, so that they can hold the flag of bipartisanship high once again (and satisfy the DLC's corporate "partners", just like all principled Third Way Democrats do), and important business cannot proceed.

Centrists do have principles, but just like conservatives' opposition to big government (except when spying on citizens en masse or torturing "suspects" in secret prisons or looting the treasury for war profiteers), those principles certainly do appear rather contradictory at times to folks of other political persuasions.

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