Saturday, September 22, 2007

Who's in Charge Here?

It’s been a while since I bashed Hapless Harry Reid. This week’s excuse was another defeat in the Senate. Not that I’ll post something to rip Harry every time he gets rolled by the Republicans. I have a full-time job already.

Harry finds himself, and the party that has lashed its ambitions to his incompetence, stuck in what may be a unique situation in American politics: he can’t do anything worth doing without sixty votes. The Republicans threaten to filibuster anything he might try, so the usual “majority rules” principle doesn’t apply.

While the Republicans may be superior parliamentarians, they’re still fascists. This week they quashed a bill that would have restored habeas corpus, a right that had withstood all manner of threats from 1215 till last year’s passage of the Military Commission Act.

Before my Republican friends get their glands on their shoulders over the term “fascists,” let’s examine the evidence. Habeas isn’t one of those “penumbra” rights they claim were invented by the Warren Court and its heirs, like Miranda or abortions. It’s a fundamental right of a free society. Latin for, “produce the body,” it’s the principle through which someone held by the government can demand to hear the charges against him, or be set free. To say anyone can be held indefinitely, without charge, is patently anti-American. It’s the kind of thing the Nazis would have done, and did. Ergo, fascists.

Here’s the question I can’t answer: if the Republicans can hold up the restoration of habeas corpus with the threat of a debate, why didn’t Harry save it that way in the first place? Walk up to then-Majority Leader Bill Frist and say, “Habeas stays, or we’ll shut the whole operation down.” Probably because he was afraid Frist would invoke the dreaded “nuclear option,” thus rendering filibuster obsolete. Mitch McConnell, the current Minority Leader, doesn’t have that fear. He’s already bluffed Harry into a ghost filibuster with every bill.

Here’s a suggestion: let them filibuster. Shut down the whole operation. It’s not like the Senate is accomplishing anything, anyway. If you’re going to get nothing done because the Republicans are being obstructionist, let the world see how obstructionist they really are. Losing votes is the quickest way to make a majority look like a minority with a big mouth, while allowing the minority with a big mouth govern as though they were the majority.

Enough should have been enough a long time ago.

No comments: