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April 26, 2005


Thanks for the history. I knew the vague outlines, but not the details.

Norm Ornstein has been such a voice of reason for the last decade or so that you presume, despite his AEI/GOP identification, he's likely voted for some Dem presidential candidates over tghe period. Still, to lose him to this extent (I heard some of his presentation on C-SPAN last night, and it was virulently anti-GOP) shows what Republicans are doing to long-time adherents: forcing them to seek greener pastures out of sheer exasperation.

I must admit I had the teeniest glimmer of doubt about Dem resolve yesterday, especially when I read Biden's "we can confirm four or five of them" quote in the Times. Why give anything, I screamed, when you're killing them in the polls? But you're correct: Reids's offer was barely anything for the Pubs and lots for our side, which would either win the day, or (as happened) be rejected by in-hock-to-Christian-right Frist, enabling Dems to one more time be seen as taking the reasonable side of the argument.

I'm about ready to surrender power of attorney to Reid. He's just an extraordinary leader to date.

I knew that the book on Reid was that he was really good at procedural manuvering, but God, I didn't know he was brilliant.

Part of it is that Frist is a clod, but man, it's been beautiful to watch, hasn't it?

What about Susan Neilson? I thought her nomination to the 6th Circuit was blocked as part of this same overall issue.

You weren't the only one to have that glimmer of doubt, demtom. But this bullshit is over the top.

Man, how do these guys get paid, while we have to do this stuff for free?


Apparently most people who write about politics from the left side of the spectrum have never played cards, because bluffing is obviously a foreign concept too difficult for their literal minds to grasp.

And there is a bit to Levin's demand that Saad be pulled. Saad sent an email to a freind, saying that he would get revenge on stabenow and others once he was on the 6th. He also used some impolite terms to describe the junior senator among others.

Unfortunately for Saad, he hit "reply all" rather than "reply", and Sen Stabenow (or one of her friends/staff etc) got a copy of the email.

That was it for old Henry!!

Yeah, that's the tip of the iceberg with Saad. He's one of those cases that on top of being bad ideologically, on a personal level he's also a jerk.

The John Bolton of judicial nominees. I swear, whoever said Bush makes his appointments like he's pulling fraternity pranks had him nailed.

Check out the current headlines (as of 10:00 pm EST, Tuesday, 4/26) at the Washington Post and NY Times sites...

WaPo: Republicans Reject Judges Offer

NYT (on the Washington page): Rove and Frist Reject Democrats' Compromise Over Bush's Judicial Nominees

Beautiful. Now who are the "obstructionists"?

DH wrote:

Yeah, that's the tip of the iceberg with Saad. He's one of those cases that on top of being bad ideologically, on a personal level he's also a jerk.

I have it on fairly good authority that Saad's problems go much deeper than simply being a jerk. It's likely that unless a deal is struck whereby he skates in pursuant to the deal, he likely won't be seriously pushed for this slot. The GOP doesn't want much of a hearing on him. More likely, the deal will involve McKeague and current Michigan Supreme Court Justice Steven Markman.

Great work on this, DH.

Kagro and DH - yeah, John Nichols missed this pretty badly in his Nation article, but I’ll cut him some slack for one main reason: when Dems lose (you’ll notice we’ve been losing a bit more than winning lately), it’s largely because we don't fight hard enough or seem unsure about what we stand for (or at least that's how we're perceived).

It's a natural quandary for the left since we're the ones who do nuance, who understand that most issues are complex, containing shades of gray and all that. The very definition of "liberal" (and that's what we are, however much many of us have been shamed into naming ourselves otherwise) is grounded in key concepts like tolerance, open-mindedness, pluralism, a willingness to compromise, and an understanding that we may just be wrong about a particular thing (you know, change our outlook when the facts demand it). We prefer to win via reasoned persuasion instead of irrational attack. We're the proud descendants (and defenders) of the Age of Enlightenment.

Of course the right, by nature, is far more simplistic. It's "Us or Them", good vs. evil, black and white, give no quarter. Don't confuse them with the facts (no WMD, anyone?) -- they know what they know. The right is quite amenable to marching in lockstep; they're authoritarian, tradionalist, hierarchical, monolithic, and given to rallying around a "hero" or "great leader". Attack mode and win at all costs is more their style than rational argument. It's no wonder that Republican legislators (state and federal) vote as a group (and allow themselves to be whipped into order) much more often than Democrats, for instance.

Obviously, whole books (hell, whole library sections) have been written on what makes "left" and "right". This is just my poor and inadequate take in a nutshell. My point is: which side will find more intrinsic difficulty in either taking or at least appearing to take a strong stand? That's right, we will.

For example, it isn't just some "Viet Nam War syndrome" that makes the Democrats appear weak on national security. In actuality, we're better at it than the Republicans (whose watch did 9/11 happen under?), but we have a hard time playing cowboy and saying silly things like "your either with us or against us", or "smoke 'em out of their holes". For a TV and movie generation, we just don't look the part.

We know that fighting terrorism is much more a matter of international law enforcement (with some military participation) and diplomacy and arms control and helping the underdeveloped world modernize. We understand terrorism is a real threat, but not an existential one. The right believes we're fighting World War III (or is it IV?) against hordes of Islamofascists, and that a global American Empire propped up by military legions is essential for our very survival. They ridiculously conflate the invasion and occupation of Iraq with this supposed War on Terror, while we (mostly) realize what a terrible, wasteful, unnecessary horror our Iraq adventure actually is, having nothing to do with any War on Terror (except helping to create more terrorists). So who do you suppose "looks" stronger and more resolute? The ones who'll take the country to war on a bunch of fearmongering lies in order to get re-elected, or the ones who think maybe that's not the best way to go? You guessed it.

And sometimes, we really don't fight when we should. He may not have won in November anyway, but I believe Kerry was done for sure last August when he did not fight hard and fast against the Swift Boat Liars. He made the typical liberal assumption that facts and reason would prevail, without him having to make a big fuss about it. Worst mistake of his career.

Take Joe Lieberman (please!) and all the other "moral values" suck-ups on our side (Holy Joe votes our way most often, but that's not the way he appears in the newspaper or on the TV). Combined with the liberal predilection for accommodation, they have made it very difficult for the Democrats at the national level to be primarily the party of "no". Which, with the insane fascists on the other side currently in charge, we must be. It's just that it doesn't come natural to us.

That's what John Nichols is on about, and I don't blame him. Though (as you rightly pointed out) he totally missed the brilliant bluff by mild-mannered, anti-abortion (cringe!) Harry Reid, Nichols' intent is to hold the national Dems feet to the fire. He is right to do so, even if we'd all love to play poker with him. Especially on the domestic front, we need to look and act like we-know-where-you-stand fighters every chance we get.

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