Spencer Ackerman has a rundown of some of the ins and outs of procedural maneuvers in the Senate that I thought everyone might find helpful. He concludes thusly:
Looking beyond the day’s vote, however, reveals a more complicated picture. After the Democrats lost the Iraq battle over the supplemental appropriation in the spring and didn’t launch another fight against the war, many on the left were disillusioned with the Democrats. Antiwar liberals appear much more energized now, so clearly today’s events had one positive effect for Reid: It appeared to shore up his support on the left again.
More importantly, by raising the Iraq debate in the summer, the Democrats have created something of a public expectation that September is the beginning of the end for the war. Even Fred Barnes’s summation piece for the Weekly Standard is titled “McConnell Holds The Line; At Least Until September.” The benefit for the Democrats of the July push, even the unsuccessful one, has been to redefine the debate over the war.
By forcing the discussion now, Dems forced Republicans into the fall-back position of saying, “The war should begin to end not now, but in September.” That means it will be tougher for Republicans to continue to back the war come September — Petraeus report or no.
Two weeks ago, it was hardly clear that September would be the beginning of the end, as opposed to a potential rallying point for Republicans when Petraeus comes to Washington. But thanks to how the July debate unfolded, come September the GOP’s victory today could look like a Pyrrhic one.
The Republican strategy all along has been to fob off the responsibility for their own failures onto the Democrats. And, to that end, they have been avoiding any and all votes which make them put their support of said Bush Administration failures squarely on record. Thus, the constant obstruction and filibuster tactics — they are voting to keep debate going, you see, and not to support the Bush Administration’s failed Iraq policies — that way there is no recorded vote saying “I support keeping the war going forever.” because they all know that isn’t popular.
But with the latest Democratic maneuver, the Grand Obstruction Party has had to stand on the floor of the Senate and speak in favor of the continued occupation of Iraq, in some sort of macabre lock-step dance of Republican Senators who looked like they wanted to be anywhere but standing in the well of the Senate and genuflecting to George Bush’s many failures. And the ruse is blown. It’s about damn time.
As Digby puts it:
This is one reason why I really hate calling the Democrats spineless. It’s true that they sometimes are, but compared to their single cell invertebrate comrades on the other side they are super-heroes. The Republicans laid down for Dick Cheney’s Unitary executive like a bunch of cheap hookers during fleet week with nary a thought for the constitution or even their own prerogatives….
And it continues to this day, even as their great leader has nearly destroyed their party and ruined the country.
Never make a bet that Republicans will do the right thing. You can’t even count on them to act in their own self-interest — witness their just tanking the immigration bill that will probably sink their chances of a real majority for many years to come. Their only purpose in government is to steal from the taxpayers, help their rich friends, cover up their leaders’ crimes and destroy Democrats. That’s it. That’s all they do.
Grand Obstructionist Party: you stand for lock-step, spineless failure and obeisance to George Bush. Oh, and while I’m thinking about it, you’ve also spent the last six years and counting helping make America less safe. How’s that working for you?
(Invertebrate Magazine photo via szczur.)
PS — Bob Geiger explains the switched vote from Harry Reid, for those who had some questions about the procedural need for that.