Sunday, November 28, 2004

Let The Sunshine In, Bill Frist

The Washington Post complains that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has started to enforce a new policy that he calls the "majority of the majority" rule. Hastert says that he would not allow the Defense Department/ Homeland Security bill hit the floor this week because even though there were enough combined Democratic/ Republican votes to pass it, there were not enough Republican votes.

The New York Times complains that Senator Frist wants to abolish the centuries-old Senate filibuster rules, so that any nut-job that President Bush cares to nominate will pass the Senate. One of the conservative pundits, I don’t remember who, suggests that until the filibuster rules are changed, the Republicans should hold non-binding votes on Republican judges who are stuck in Democratic filibusters.

Of course, House Republicans have not shown themselves too willing to vote on many things publicly. The vote on the internal rule changes that will allow Tom Delay to retain his chairmanship after he was indicted was done in a closed session. Congressmen who find it expedient to lie to their constituents about their votes are now able to do so.

As an old political science major, I know that a good deal of politics consists of running for cover. My fellow liberals worry about what will happen when the Supreme Court overturns Roe –v- Wade, but the fact is that the Republican Senate has had the votes to overturn Roe –v- Wade for a while now. Republicans don’t want to take the political heat of taking decades-old rights away from women in the United States on the same day they are giving them to the women of Iraq and Afghanistan. They are looking for a Supreme Court to hide behind.

It’s easier for Republicans to bitch about liberal judges making things impossible. Or bitch about a Supreme Court that has, I think, 7 Republican appointees and 2 Democratic appointees. Certain people, and a lot of them are Senators, still cannot understand that the North won the Civil War. As a result certain individual rights exist in the Constitution, and these rights were most definitely not the intent of the Southern slave-owning framers. These rights were exercised, alas, not to enforce racial equality, but to fend off the turn-of-the-century robber barons, like George Bush’s great-grandfathers and their friends, who wrecked this country so badly that it was a day away from turning either fascist or socialist. The only way you can overturn these individual rights, and undo the results of the Sixties and the later New Deal, is to amend the Constitution.

Frist wants to take away the right of Northern Democrats to filibuster against the rare Republican judge who thinks that the United States should look just like it did in the "good-old days" of slavery, and lynching, No Irish Need Apply and child labor, and wife-beating, 12-hour days and the workhouse in your old-age, and one rich man for every 1,000,000 starving men (I know, the shoe was on the other foot, once upon a time, and Northern Republicans filibustered against racist Southern Democratic judges.) Thanks to the filibuster, Republican Senators in swing-states (they still exist) can hurl invective at the “liberals” who are obstructing the “will of the people.” These Republicans are screaming behind a smoke-screen, safe in the knowledge that they will never have to go on record in favor of a nutty judge, or against a woman’s right to choose, or for or against any number of things that would make it hard for them to win re-election.

Now Frist and Hastert want to blow the cover of their fellow Republicans. Let the Sunshine In!