Should Democrats in US Congress Obsdtruct & Play Harball?

I’m asking “should” in the tactical sense. After Bush resuscitated the global gag order on abortion subject matter for all family planning groups receiving US$, I’ve very much wanted to see the Democrats shut down Ashcroft and every other thing that this administration attempts to do, just bring the bastards to a standstill on any initiative that differs substantially from what the Democrats would have done.

But that’s a visceral “wanting” and I’m not sure it would be good political tactics. The general public wasn’t happy when the Republicans were obstructionist during the Clinton administration and might react against the Democrats being obstructionist under the Shrub.

On the other hand, if they can successfully paint the Republican administration as welching rather severely on their promise to “reach across the aisle” and be “moderate” and “bipartisan”, people may blame the Republicans for the logjam; after all, it isn’t reasonable to expect the minority party to nod and go along with the other party’s agenda when they constitute so close to 50% themselves, and the Republicans have more or less thrown down the gauntlet with these early Buchananesque initiatives.

How deeply into the mud ought the Congressional Democrats to jam their heels?

“Senator Kennedy, we need you for the filibuster.”
“As soon as this game of hardball is over and I get all this mud off me”

In all seriousness, it could be done if it’s spun right. The trick is to make sure the blame for gridlock is shifted to the Republicans, and get a few moderate Republican defectors.

I disagree that the Republicans suffered as a result of their acting like complete and utter cocksuckers for the past eight years. They still retain a tactical majority in both wings of the Capitol, despite… oh, hell, why bother to list it all again? All their actions seem to have done is polarize the political environment to the point where the past three presidential elections have been spoiled by third parties. They lost two out of those three, and had to steal the other one, but Congressional members have been largely unaffected.

However, the majorities are razor-thin. Nothing will likely pass without a degree of consensus. Democrats will likely want to play nice for this Congress, so that those already in can consolidate their hold on their middle constituents. Not much of substance is likely to get done–I hope. With almost equal power in the Senate, I expect to see a lot of Republican-contrived scheduling conflicts in the Senate Committee meetings, while the Democrats will try to sabotage legislature through the inclusion of riders and water-down amendments. You know, old school stuff.

Now, whether it is tactically beneficial for the Democrats to revive the cycle of obstruction, delay, and investigation in two years is another story. When Americans realize that there’s sand in Shrub’s Vaseline and hand the majorities back to the Dems, they’ll have a very, very difficult decision to make. Why? Because they started it. Way back when, the Dems used their majority to refuse to seat a Republican member in Congress and investigate the crap out of GHW Bush. When the Dick Army swept into town, they initiated the long list of reprisals with which we are all familiar with.

In two years, Democrats will have a chance to let things cool off a little. They can make sure that nothing of lasting substance crosses Shrub’s desk while forcing him to actually live by the “compassionate conservative” mantra which he appears to have already quite forgotten about. That, however, might make the guy look good. And there’s the possibility that Shrub won’t be able to ride herd over his goon-squad Cabinet appointees, which will force a Democratic Congress to react. If most Democrats on the Hill are like me, they probably believe that this President is more inane than dangerous. Kicking back and watching him drop the anvil on his own foot might be the recommended course.

As much as I would like to see Kennedy reading from the Washington phonebook up there, and as much as I wholeheartedly voted for him and would like to get my liberal dollar’s worth out of him, I agree that it might not be the best tactical move. It could very easily backfire in 2 years, when the Dems have the best chance to get a majority since 1990, or possibly even longer.

Honestly, I don’t know. As I’ve said, I’d like nothing more than to see Ashcroft get taken out of the running by a quality fillibuster, but at the same time, it’s probably not a great move.

I think the tactic has alot going for it as long as it is spun right, as has been noted earlier. If the Democrats can provoke the Republicans into an equally vicious partisan mode, they stand to benefit. The electorate is frequently unsophisticated about these things, and is apt to react with a these-guys-are-all-jerks-let’s-get-rid-of-the-bums attitude. This means dumping the incumbents, mostly Republicans.

Problem in this case is that Bush has been very visibly olive-branching around. Refusing to investigate the Democratic White House vandalism, meeting alot of Congressional Democrats etc. etc. As a result, it is likely that at this particular juncture, any such tactic would backfire against the Demos. I think it is for this reason that they’ve given up the full court press against Ashcroft. But should the atmosphere get tenser, look for the knives to come out.

By all acounts GW is doing a good job so far.

I’m not saying he is doing a good job in the manner that means he is doing stuff that makes you guys happy, but rather that he is setting himself up for a succesful presidency.

Whether you like him and his policies or not, I think you are going to have a hard time claiming he is dropping the anvil on his own foot.

Clinton managed to leave in as messy a way as possible, setting up a nice foil to GW’s first week. By Friday he will have all but one of his original cabinet picks confirmed. The press loves him so far. He is going full steam ahead with his proposals. Greenspan has endorsed the tax-cut.

To top it all off, he is doing some nice across the aisle peacemaking.
Call him an idiot all you want, this guy is going to get his agenda through.

I say the democrats should fight tooth and nail. This seemed to do a good job of paring back the Republican majorities. Kennedy sure came off looking like a centrist after his rantings against Ashcroft.

Newsclips clips of him and Feinswine reading fairy tales on the Senate floor until they drop in exhaustion brings a smile to my face and a warmth to my belly. (and not the kennedy-scotch kind of warmth) The reactionary left-wing will either shut-up or risk banishing their party to permanant minority status come 2002.

Cites for those interested:

First of all, it’s worth noting that the GOP used the filibuster as a routine tactic during the Clinton administration, especially during the 1993-94 Congress when they were the Congressional minority. Did it hurt them? Y’all know how the 1994 midterm elections turned out.

I think filibusters on appropriate matters help rally the faithful - and as long as the filibuster targets are well-chosen, there should be little political fallout among centrists. I think filibustering Ashcroft is entirely appropriate, and would help rank-and-file Democratic morale greatly. If we citizen-spectators :wink: on the left get the impression that our guys in Congress aren’t going to use all their leverage on at least a well-chosen handful of the important battles, it’ll be hard to keep up the fighting spirit we’ve developed during the post-election melee.

The willingness of Senate Democrats to get along a bit too well, so far, makes me worry that they’re ready to be rolled on tax cuts (i.e. mostly for the rich, and enough money for an occasional extra pizza for everyone else) and other issues. If our guys won’t stand up for us now, fewer of us will trouble to vote in 2002. And midterm elections, with their lower turnout, can frequently turn on which party’s faithful show up - as 1994 demonstrated. In 21 months, we want our rank-and-file energized, and theirs dispirited. If they get practically everything they want, then exactly the reverse of that will happen. Better to fight on anything that’s both big and unreasonable, viewed through Democratic eyes, of course.

If there’s a message I’d send to the Senate Democrats about filibustering, it’s “agree when it’s appropriate, and fight like hell when necessary.” Oh yeah, and pray for the dead, but fight like hell for the living. :wink:

:I’ll try my best not to vomit all over the place.(two-party system makes me very sick.) But enough of my senseless rambling"
Should the Dem’s fillabuster every bill that GW tries to enact?

Well I’ll go with a yes and a no. By attacking GW’s bills and legitimacy, the Dem’s will be able to strengthen thier own power (control) over thier party members but will also make the Rep’s even more angry at them. (I know the pronouns are getting confusing.) But since it is not important if you make your enemy angry(in our gov. at least. Everybody hates the other side anyways.) , the Dem’s could fillabuster. They should be aware of voters like me who really despise the two-party system; for if they attack GW, we may vote for Rep’s just because they were getting attacked by the Dem’s over a simple issue (ie:they’re not in the same party.). IMO, I think this system seems a little stupid when you look at it.(Let’s fight because we’re not in the same party.)It reminds me of the stupid religous wars that are fought across the world. Our system isn’t supposed to be a warzone, anyways. It’ supposed to have debate and argument but it was never intended to be like it is today. (I’m going to stop talking now, for I’m rambling and sounding incoherent. Sorry.)

And remember, Anger is CONSTRUCTIVE. Hate is DESTRUCTIVE.
I see a massive amount of hate in our government and society. (KILL WHITEY!!!) (I’m white, btw.)

Obstruction tactics can indeed be very useful to the Democrats, as long as they choose their fights carefully. They have to appear to be working in the interests of the great moderate middle class at all times, and, if they do, say hello to Speaker Gephardt and Majority Leader Daschle in 2002, and President Gore in 2004.

Any time George Quincy Bush tries to cater to his unpopular right wing supporters, whether by the Ashcroft nomination or the anti-abortion stuff or the anti-gun-control stuff or nominating another right-wing SC Justice, it’s in the interest of the people to have it defeated by any means necessary. But when Quincy tries something moderate or “compassionate”, they should work with him. That’s not only the right approach for the Democrats to take, it’s in their political interest as well.

Let’s keep in mind, while we’re at it, that some of the things Quincy is doing or saying may be lip service to his right-wing base. He may have understandings with Congress that he’s willing to take defeat on some things and follow with a moderate proposal he really wants so he can say “Hey, I tried, but I couldn’t get those darn Democrats to see it the same way.”

Ashcroft is just too much, though. Filibuster that sanctimonious ideologue right out of there, I say.

I agree with RTFirefly. Right now, I’d like to see the Dems filibuster against Ashcroft. Down the road, I’d like to see the Dems pick other important battles, and dig in their heels with some filibusters. I am soooo tired of hearing about “bipartisanship,” which seems to mean that Democrats and Republicans cooperate in implimenting the religious right’s agenda; something the Dems should be opposing.

Id love to see the Dems fight over everything, but then I’m a Rep. The more extreme, petty, and out of touch they appear the better. Even the recent fights over Ashcroft and Norton have damaged the far left.

And since nobody has posted since the great event, I whole-heartedly can’t wait for Attny Gen Ashcroft to take office. Compared to Janet Reno he will be a welcome breath of integrity. I seriously doubt he’ll be having the ATF surround Planned Parenthood and burn it to the ground with 80 men, women, and CHILDREN inside. Or is the type of thing you lefties think an AG should do? We’ll hafta see.

And this is, IMHO, is what the Dems are gonna do. They’ll go along as best they can, but as soon as anything doesn’t go exactly right, they’ll scream bloody murder. But they won’t do that until closer to the election. Americans have the attention span of a ferret on a double espresso.

I predict the GOP will make gains in 2002. GW will give people a tax break and more control over their lives (vouchers, more local control of land use, etc.). But you also hafta look at how many seats are really up for grab and who’s currently in them. That may be more telling.

Am I the only one wondering if James Carroll is serious or merely being sarcastic?

Of course not – he’ll sit back and let the right-wing Christian groups do it, then s-l-o-w-l-y “investigate” the case for five years, all for naught.

Should the Democrats obstruct for the sake of obstructing, as a calculated tactic?

Hell, no. That’s the sort of unprincipled politicking I expect from Republicans. I would hope for better from the Democratic Party.

On the other hand, should the Democrats stand up for their principles, even when it results in obstruction?

Hell, yes. At least on issues of fundamental importance.

Of course, this is somewhat moot as Ashcroft is now confirmed. But there will be other issues.

I think the Democrats are underestimating how often the public sides with the president in cases like these. It’s easier for the president to get on TV and give his side of the story, while congressional representatives have to explain the actions of their most extreme members. Especially now, when the public doesn’t really have a feel for Bush yet.

That said, the best course for Democrats is to work with Bush when the agree with him, work against him when they don’t. Going ballistic and fighting Bush when you AGREE with him, just to be obstructionist, is cutting off your nose to spite your face. But of course, if Bush becomes hugely unpopular then opposing him can only help your career.

That’s funny. I was wondering if I was the only one who understood the Waco reference.

Oh, come on now! Give us a fuckin’ break! That has to be about the stupidest comparison I have ever heard. In case you missed some of the facts, last time I checked Planned Parenthood doesn’t have a bunch of heavily armed wackos who killed a couple government agents! I am not saying that Waco was handled that wonderfully, but it was truly a difficult situation. And the attempt at an analogy here is really ludicrous.

(Yes, Freedom2, we understood it…We just thought it was ridiculous!)

The Branch Davidians had not killed any government agents before the raid. In fact, if anything, they had shown a willingness to cooperate with the police. In addition, there was never any need for Waco to have BECOME a difficult situation in the first place.
Taking the liberty to assume that JC feels close to the way I do about Waco, I will hazard a guess at his point.

If we could live with a child murdering bitch like Janet Reno for 8 years, then surely nothing Ashcroft can or will do could possibly be as bad.

JC, if that is not what you meant, then I take full responsibilty for that as my own thought.

In deference to the OP I will say the following then let it go. I don’t want to steal the OP and turn this into a Ashcroft/Waco/Reno thread. Its not my thread, and I apologize.

To wit:

Yes, the Waco reference was intended to be a little sarcastic, but also a reminder to lefties that when it comes to government paranoia, their hands aren’t exactly clean (Out! Out, damned spot!).

jshore: If these people were wackos why didn’t we just let them drink their Kool-Aid and be done with it. Do you really think they were going to rage a holy war out in Waco? Against who? The armadillos? Why did our gov’t feel the need to storm the compound and kill its own citizens? To save the children? Or to save their charred bodies?

rlung: What? No coffee mug link? :wink: I feel slighted.

Now to the OP and Dems:

Here’s how I see it. America’s political spectrum is primarily defined as left vs right. But across the spectrum of issues people tend to believe this way or that, half-believe (or believe with reservations) this or that, but taken in its totality you find (I would suspect) a bell like structure with most in the middle and extremes at either end.

Now place that bell curve on a see saw. It tips one way, then tips the other. The problem is that our national agenda (the way the see saw tips) is too often determined by those at the extreme of both ends. I honestly think that if you analysed it you might find that physics rules regarding torque (fewer at the end nullifies many at the fulcrum) aren’t that far off. This, IMHO, is where GWB will strive.

He has a history (in TX) of reaching across the aisle and his presense at the Democratic retreats this week is further evidence of his ability to build bridges. The more he is able to move towards the middle (and here’s the trick: without alienating his rightist friends; and so what if he does, who are they gonna vote for? Perot? Nader? As I see it this year’s “Nader factor” makes up for 1992’s “Perot Factor”.), the more pressure it places on Dems to define themselves as the anti-GWB. A Dem would have two choices: alienate his far lefties and agree with GWB (8 did on the Ashcroft nom) or move to the middle and blur the definition of Dem/Rep to the point where the differences are negligible. In districts where the Dem is not that strong, people will vote more for Bush then the candidate himself. The classic “coat-tail”. This is why I think the GOP will make gains in 2002. That and voter turn out.

Some Dems are immune to this.
[cheap shot]
People dead:
Ted Kennedy’s car: 1
My gun: 0
[/cheap shot]

But again, I think before you say which tack the Dems should take, you hafta look at who is up for re-election and how strong is their hold on their constituents.

Again, I apologize to AHunter3 for the Ashcroft injection. I hope your OP is not too damaged.

The notion of America as this polarized place is ridiculous. If Bush or Gore had won 53%-47%, people would be calling it a landslide and saying he had a ‘mandate’. A difference of two or three lousy percentage points. And every election comes down very close to this - it’s about 50-50, with a good percentage of the populace being ‘swing’ voters who aren’t married to either party. And each party molds itself to the electorate instead of principle anyway. Today you have a Republican President lobbying for a greatly expanded federal education program, and Democrats fighting for fiscal restraint. Ten years ago, Republicans were calling for the abolition of the Department of Education, and the Democrats wanted to spend all the money. Where are the principles here? The two parties have flip-flopped simply because they saw strategic gains by co-opting the other side’s issues, principles be damned. And of course, Clinton and Bush did it too. Reagan was really the last president who had firm principles, IMO. Whether you agreed with those principles or not is another issue.

I think a case could be made that U.S. presidential elections are almost random picks. When you know in advance that the vote is going to be within a couple of percentage points of 50-50, then trivial things can make the difference - a gaffe in a debate, a flukey Florida debacle, a last-minute ‘scandal’, etc.

Flip a coin next time. It’s faster, and probably about as legitimate as long as you have two parties that control most of the money and media time.

Back to the OP: Will the Democrats filibuster? It depends what their strategists and pollsters tell them to do. After all, if you don’t have any principles to guide you, you’ve gotta make a decision somehow, right? And BTW, the Republicans will be making the same kinds of calculations.

You think you’re offended? You got my bleedin’ username wrong! :slight_smile:

I’d include a coffee mug link, but since I’m now selling an entire line of merchandise at my site, I figured it was superfluous. And I can’t help it if the mug’s a bit ugly; Dubya was born with those looks. :wink:

And to get back to the OP, I’m still not entirely sure why all the Clinton-bashers like to bring up Waco as an example of Reno’s depravity. It’s not like she didn’t try to find a peaceful solution beforehand, after all – the Davidians just wouldn’t give ground. What would John Ashcroft have done in the same situation, bombarded the compound with “Jesus Saves!” pamphlets and waited for everyone to be converted?