Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Politics as usual, the question being: What is Politics as Usual?

The show must go on. You know, the show for us so we think something has changed, but nothing changes.

The Wall Street Journal
- "Not a single Republican supported Mr. Obama's economic recovery package on the House floor Wednesday night. It passed 244-188, with 11 Democrats joining the Republicans.

The solid Republican opposition, led by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio), raises questions about whether the new era of bipartisanship that Mr. Obama promised during the campaign is truly within reach, or if Washington remains stuck in its acrimonious ways. Most immediately, the vote may mean that Democrats have to make more compromises in the Senate version of the recovery package, which is scheduled for a vote next week.

In the Senate, a vote that falls short of 60 senators supporting a bill allows the opposition to filibuster, or block passage through indefinite debate. But some Republicans are signaling privately that they are reluctant to filibuster the stimulus package, and Senate Democrats appear to be reaching out more aggressively to address GOP concerns on the bill."

Hope for change? Not on your life, it's all for show. All of these men in the above vote are already campaigning for re-election in 2010. The Senate? Now there's a different matter. Roughly one third of the Senate changes over every two years and it's easier to find allies for this whoring bill when the principle of forgetfulness reigns. The idealist says, "They (voters) will Remember!" and the realist whispers "no, they will forget...."

So the demonstrators in the House wave the flag and we are inspired, to wake up next week and find just enough Senate Republicans defected, voted for cloture (allowing the vote) and then slipped back to the ranks of the faithful for our next show by voting against the bill as it passes. Along with about 8 democrats or so who are up for reelection in contested states. They were after all, for the bill, before they were against it.

As a lobbyist in the Montana Legislature in the early 80's I watched a bill go down to victorious defeat. The "Game" went back and forth as one side maneuvered to get ahead of the other one. We had the votes, we had victory, but the key was getting the bill to the floor for that vote in an effective form. As the debate drew to a close, an amendment was placed in the bill in committee that stripped it of it's enforcement clause, rendering it graffiti, not law.

The amendment failed in an open vote as procedure dictated it needed a majority vote to be added. The gallery erupted in thunderous applause and the acting President of the Senate that day, inexplicably (?) a member of the minority opposition, banged his gavel, and declared order. He then stated that he did not have a vote as Senate President, unless there was a tie, and promptly voted to add the emasculating amendment. The bill became a platitude and I thought not of outrage but of how inevitable it all was.

Vote counting is done out of the hallways. Votes are known before bills come to the floor, there are rarely surprises. President Obama's stimulus bill will almost certainly pass and for the public record, we will have most Republicans lining up ineffectively against it. But they could have (provided it passes) prevented it from coming to a vote, and they won't.

In Montana, in the 80's, we thought our representatives were voting for our bill, but they were voting against it since they all conferred behind the scenes and agreed on the outcome.

In Washington, this year, much the same situation will play itself out as our votes are cynically pandered for and the Idealist, going down to defeat will shout "The VOTERS will REMEMBER!" and I will be right at their side saying, "no, they will forget."

Prove me happily wrong by holding your representatives accountable. Change will be turning out everyone who voted for cloture on the stimulus bill, out on their ears when they come up for reelection, IN THE PRIMARIES.

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