Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sixty Senators Won't Be Enough

Despite what I wrote this morning, Glenn Greenwald really hasn't calmed down. In fact, it was his day to hit the nail squarely on the head:

I'd like to underscore the fact that in 2006, when the Congress was controlled by Bill Frist and Denny Hastert, the administration tried to get a bill passed legalizing warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty, but was unable. They had to wait until the Congress was controlled by Steny Hoyer, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to accomplish that.

George Bush's latest powers, courtesy of the Democratic Congress

This is why I want better Democrats in Congress, not more of them. When they were the opposition, they occasionally acted the part. Now, in the majority, they're more dangerous than the Republicans. Why would I want more of that?

A friend who is much more politically astute than I am told me that the last time the Democratic Party called him up asking for money, they used the line about needing sixty Democratic Senators. "No, you don't", my friend replied, "you have all the Senators you need right now." To understand why that's true, all you have to realize is that they are the majority party. That means they, or more properly, Harry Reid, get to decide what the legislative schedule is. If the Democrats don't want a bill to see the light of day, it won't. Simple as that. That's one reason that sixty Senators isn't going to make a difference.

The other reason is based on mathematics, so it was the one I caught onto on my own. Look at this list, which I've reprinted from an earlier article:

Max Baucus (D-MT)
Evan Bayh (D-IN)
Thomas Carper (D-DE)
Robert Casey (D-PA)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Joe (Short Ride) Lieberman (ID-CT)
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Ben Nelson (D-NE)
Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Ken Salazar (D-CO)
James Webb (D-VA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Roll Over And Beg Award: Just About The Entire U.S. Senate

That's the list of Democratic Senators, plus Joe Lieberman, who voted for the telecom immunity and blanket warrant bill the last time it came around. That's nineteen Democrats, plus Joe Lieberman. Do you think they voted against cloture on this bill? Of course they didn't. So, assuming that no new Democrats of this sort show up in the Senate, in order to have a "filibuster proof" Democratic majority, we'd need to have:

60 + 19 = 79 Democratic Senators

In case you're a little rusty at arithmetic, that's 2930 more Democrats than are in the Senate now. It's also reasomably certain that some of those new Democrats would be receiving their own Roll Over And Beg Award some day. In short, no majority, if it's filled with these sorts of people, will be enough.

That's why we need better Democrats. I'd rather have fifty-one Chris Dodds in the Senate than one hundred Dianne Feinsteins. If you're interested in government that works for you rather than the powerful, so will you.

UPDATE: Fixed the count of additional Democrats needed. I'm good at arithmetic, but not so good at rememering things. Bernie Sanders is also an independent, although he's a pretty reliable progressive.


Dana Hunter said...

You're so right we need better Dems! Individual campaigns & Act Blue will get money from me - not the DNC.

Just spent an hour calling everybody on the list, sending angry emails to Hoyer, and hoping like hell this thing gets killed. No word I can find on Obama's position just yet - if the bastard doesn't come out against this, and in a very meaningful way, we're going to have to have a serious talk about what "change" means.

I can't believe so many Dems are so ready to shoot our civil liberties in the head on this.

Cujo359 said...

Sadly, I've seen this too many times to not believe it. I don't know what it is they're afraid of , but it's not us. That needs to change. They need to know that we can end their careers as legislators.

As for Obama, he's where he's always been. He's made a career of avoiding risky moves, and I see no reason to believe he'll do any more than that now.