Battlepanda: That powder's not getting any drier


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Friday, January 27, 2006

That powder's not getting any drier

The arguments for filibustering Alito has really firmed up over the past few days. I think it clarified a lot of people's thinking when the question moved beyond whether this is a confirmation we could block to whether this is a fight we could come out ahead on. I think the answer to the first question is probably no -- there is a little tactic known as the nuclear option. But the second part of the question might well be yes, and a lot of people are coming onboard to the idea that the Democrats should fight, even if they know that they might not be able to bork.

Even the usually moderate and cautious Kevin Drum is throwing his lot in with the filibuster Alito crowd:
But in politics, if you only fight when you're sure of victory, you're never going to fight at all. Senate Dems blew the Judiciary Committee hearings as a chance to educate the country about Alito's radical views on presidential power, and a filibuster fight would give them a second chance. They should take it.
I tend to think that Publius of Legal Fiction is right on Alito -- most Americans don't live and breath politics, like bloggers. They know that there is a bruhaha over Alito, but the specifics have not yet pierced into their consciousness. If nothing else, like Kevin said, the filibuster will give the Dems more time to make Alito a major liability come election time. Of course, one likes to think that the American people make a point of sussing out the candidates for the supreme court on a thorough and independent basis. But to be perfectly frank, that's not what happens. The average American, even those who considers themselves engaged, do what I do a lot of the time -- they turn the TV on one of the cable news networks while they're fixing dinner or something, letting most of the babbling of the talking heads wash over them, absorbing only the gist of the conversation. This means it never works to sit back and expect the facts of your case to make the argument for you. To make the public see Alito as the bad deal for them that he is, we need to do more than to take a position passively -- we have to go out there and rumble. Josh of Thoughts from Kansas puts it well:
And the filibuster forces people to pay a little more attention. Many people, forgetting the lesson Hannah Arendt taught us, think that the banality of the hearings means Judge Alito is not evil, is not the wrong man for the job, and is not going to mess with their lives.
One school of thought for why we should hold off on the filibuster is that somehow the responsibility for protecting the filibuster is in Democratic hands because we know that the other side is crazy enough to use the nuclear option. Now, personally I don't know if our congress is better off with or without the filibuster, but what I do know is a situation in which we cannot use the filibuster except with the permission of the other side is not only bad for the Democratic party in this round, but a state of affair that weakens our democracy in the long run because the bully is being rewarded. I see this kind of thinking advanced for the impeachment issue too. Most recently, Ezra, who is usually quite sound, said of the prospect of impeachment:
• It's bad for the republic if impeachment becomes a routine feature of second-terms. Yes, I know that Democrats shouldn't be limited merely because the Republican Class of 1994 proved a crop of witch-hunting demagogues, but sometimes, fair or not, someone needs to play the adult. In this case, it's us.
Funnily enough, when it comes to Alito, it is also we who have to be the adult to preserve the filibuster. In fact, I have this sinking feeling that the onus is always going to be on us to preserve the dignity of the republic from this point on forth because the Republicans just don't care anymore. Starting from Al Gore's gracious acceptance of his "defeat", we have bit our lip in the face of Republican shenedigans and outrageousness. Sometimes, when we feel uppity, we sigh dramatically and perhaps even roll our eyes a little. We keep waiting for the American people to recognize our patience and forebearance, but all they see is a party that won't stand up for itself. So why should they think that we would stand up for Americans either?

Like Dadahead said. The Dems must have the world's driest powder keg by now. If not now, then when?