Posts Tagged ‘Franken’

The Liberal Supermajority

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Eight months later, the final verdict has been rendered on the Bush-Cheney era. Al Franken has defeated Norm Coleman in Minnesota. Democrats have achieved the seemingly impossible: a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate.

Dare to dream.

I’ll leave it to others to explain why 60 seats in the Senate does not mean that Democrats will be able to jam through any and all legislation. (See, for example, Roll Call’s article, “Franken’s Victory Gets Democrats to 60, Sort of.”)

I’d just like to point out that it’s the first time since 1977, when Democrats held 61 seats, that either party has had enough votes to cut off debate and force a vote, a powerful procedural tool.

True, it took a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling and a defection to the Democratic party by Senator Arlen Specter to get there. Nonetheless, in this era of red states and blue states — of Fox News, Conservative talk radio, and hyperpartisanship — hitting this threshold represents about as thorough a repudiation of Republican leadership and policies as one might imagine.

Now, the fun starts.

Before the election, the Wall Street Journal predicted that if the Democrats had 60 seats, the new “liberal supermajority” would take the country straight off a cliff.

The current financial panic may give today’s left another pretext to return to those heydays of welfare-state liberalism. Americans voting for “change” should know they may get far more than they ever imagined.

Conservative columnist Mona Charen piled on:

In the first place, the Democrats can, with a super-majority, change the rules of the game. They can make the District of Columbia the 51st state with two new senators (guaranteed to be Democrats in perpetuity). They can reinstitute the so-called Fairness Doctrine that required radio stations to provide equal time to all political viewpoints … [which] would kill one of the principal irritants to liberals and Democrats [Conservative talk radio] — to say nothing of disemboweling the First Amendment.

To elect a super-majority of Democrats at a time of economic dislocation is to flirt with depression. Nearly all economists agree that two moves by the Hoover administration deepened and prolonged the panic of 1929 and turned it into the Great Depression. One was raising taxes and the other was imposing protectionist trade policies. Senator Obama proposes to do both of those things.

Now hang on a sec, Mona. While it’s too early to draw any definitive conclusions, aren’t there already indications that the economy may be improving under Obama? And didn’t Obama just yesterday come out against a provision in the historic climate change bill that would impose trade sanctions on countries that don’t accept global warming limits?

” … We’ve seen a significant drop in global trade,” Obama told the New York Times, “I think we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals out there.”

It’s sheer paranoia. Hysterical conservative fantasy.

Although … now that you mention it … two more Democratic senators in perpetuity from  “New Columbia”?  The elimination of Rush Limbaugh and his ilk?

Hmmmmm.

Welcome to the Senate, Al. Let the voting begin.

Best of the NJDC Policy Conference

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

BEST JOKE: Joe Biden

Every year, the Yeshiva University crew team takes on the Harvard crew team, and, every year, Yeshiva gets creamed. Finally, the Yeshiva coach says he’s had enough, and asks one of his team members to go spy on the Harvard team, to learn why they are so successful.  The guy goes and hides in the bushes alongside the river, and watches the Harvard team as it passes by. Then, he leaps up, runs from the riverside, and finds his coach.

"I’ve got it!" he says. "I know the secret to their success! They’ve got eight guys rowing, and only one yelling!"

BEST NON SEQUITUR: Joe Biden

Who added: "That’s what we have to do this election: Ignore the malarkey, distractions, emails, and get behind Barack Obama. Straight up, folks."

BEST OPENER: Al Franken

"Thank you Marc. Thank you Ira. Thank you Jews. Thank you Democrats. Thank you members of the press — some of whom are probably Jews."

BEST POLITICAL ANALYSIS: Al Franken

Who noted that he was running against Sen. Norm Coleman (a Jew) who had succeeded Sen. Paul Wellstone (also a Jew), and concluded: "Minnesota is just not ready for a gentile."

MOST OPTIMISTIC ANALYSIS: William Galston, senior fellow, Brookings Institution

"Assuming Sen. Obama does not stumble badly, the odds are he’ll score a narrow but significant victory along the lines of Bush."

BEST ANALYSIS OF SENATE RACES: Amy Walter, Editor-in-chief of the Hotline

"Essentially in the bank" Democratic pickups: Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, New Hampshire

Democrats have a very good shot: Alaska

Possible Democratic pickups, but still a stretch: Oregon, North Carolina

Tougher races for Democrats: Minnesota, Maine

On election night: 4 or fewer Democratic Senate pickups would be a bad night; 5 or 6 are likely to go Democratic; getting over 6 "means that all hell has broken lose."

BEST ANALYSIS OF HOUSE RACES: Nathan Gonzales, political editor, Rothenberg Political Report

"The Democrats are going to pick up seats, we just don’t know how many yet."

He said, possibly: More than 19.

Among the reasons: There are 26 open GOP seats; only 6 open Democratic seats. Also, the Democrats hold a distinct money advantage: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has $54 million in the bank, compared to $14 million for their GOP counterparts. Democrats are outspending Republicans right now 2-to-1 in competitive districts.

BIGGEST UNDERSTATEMENT: Nathan Gonzales

"It’s hip to like Barack Obama. It’s hip to wear an Obama T-shirt. I don’t think many people think it’s cool to wear a John McCain T-shirt."

BEST EXPLANATION OF SOMETHING I’VE BEEN WONDERING ABOUT: Stuart Rothenberg

Who explained that pollsters believe young people who have only cell phones don’t vote differently from young people who have land lines. (Which would mean the notion that Obama’s support is under-counted in the national polls because many of his supporters only have cell phones is likely false.)

BEST ANALOGY: Amy Walter

Who compared the election to the baseball season. Most people, she said, are just tuning in to the baseball season now, as the playoffs are about to start. "I have no idea who led the league in June," she said. "But I know it now." She added: "All those games played during the season mean very little to me." Similarly, she said, so much of what happened during the primaries and even into the general election — for instance, the Rev. Wright controversy — has little impact on people tuning in now. "It’s just stuff that happened," she said.

BEST SOUNDBITE: Congresswoman Shelley Berkley of Nevada

Who described a meeting she had in March of 2007 with Condi Rice, who was lobbying for support of the administration’s plan to sell $20 billion worth of advanced weapons to the Saudis. (The sale eventually went through, as was reported by the press in July 2007.)

Berkley was very resistant to providing so much deadly weaponry to a Middle East enemy of Israel.

According to Berkley, Rice said: "The president would not do anything to hurt Israel."

At which point Berkley replied: "With all due respect Madame Secretary. In ten months, you won’t be secretary of state. Bush won’t be president. But I’m still going to be Jewish."

BEST FOREIGN POLICY POINT: Congressman Brad Sherman of California

Who said that without Russia’s help, it would be difficult if not impossible to effectively pressure Iran. Yet McCain and Palin appear ready to start and "rigorously wage" a new Cold War with Russia.

"I don’t think we can beat the Russians and the extremists in two simultaneous wars," he said. "We need a smart foreign policy, not an angry foreign policy."

BEST POLITICAL POINT: Ann Lewis, senior advisor to HillPAC

Asked why the issue of Supreme Court nominees has not resonated even more strongly among liberals, Lewis said the threat is still: "Two ifs away."

If I vote for John McCain and if he appoints someone opposed to reproductive rights. It’s less immediate, she said, then, for example, equal pay for equal work.

BEST DOMESTIC POLICY POINT: Joe Biden

Speaking about John McCain’s plan to open up the health care market in the same way that the GOP has opened up the banking industry, he quoted his father: "Don’t tell me what you value, champ. Show me your budget — I’ll tell you what you value."

BEST OVERALL QUOTE : Steve Rabinowitz, President of Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications

How much time should we be devoting in our communities between now and election day to help Obama win?

"I only ask you to spend your every waking moment," he said. "And then — you can do whatever you want."