Friday, December 22, 2006

On Snowe-Landrieu Bipartisan Initiative: Kiss My Democratic Ass

Nausea alert: Do not read this on a full stomach if you're a Progressive, who has had it up to your eyeballs with some elected Democrats regularly accepting prison shower-room, Ned-Beatty-in-'Deliverance' treatment from Republicans and then meekly saying "Thank you, sir, may I have some more?"

Because what you're about to read is the Washington, D.C. version of just that.

Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) issued a joint press release yesterday announcing that they want to convene a group of Republicans and Democrats in the new Senate to "build on the success of 'Gang of 14'" and "forge bipartisan consensus on key issues in the 110th Congress."

“I couldn’t be more pleased to join with Senator Mary Landrieu to build upon the success of the bipartisan Gang of 14 with a group committed to bringing comity, consensus and legislative achievements back to the halls of the Senate,” said Snowe. “The American people are tired of partisan attacks and intransigence from the Congress; they are rightly demanding results. And Senator Landrieu and I believe this group will serve as a productive catalyst to bring the Senate together across party lines.”

Not to be outdone, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) also heralded the arrival of a similar entity yesterday, also issuing a joint statement saying they are forming a "Bipartisan Members Group to create an opportunity for Senators to know one another better across party lines."

Landrieu and Lieberman have sidled right up alongside Alexander and Snowe, making grand statements about how it's time to come together and guessing -- incorrectly -- what message the American people delivered in a loud, clear voice on election day. And, like the weak-kneed centrists they are, their capitulation is very much akin to the wife who reunites with her abusive husband because he mumbles "I'm sorry, baby" after breaking her nose for the third time.

Isn't it convenient for Snowe, Alexander and other Republicans to initiate this transparent maneuver and now extend a hand across the aisle for something other than slapping Democrats? Isn't it just freakin' amazing that this change of heart comes right when they are voted out of the majority on a clear mandate of the people and now have to themselves face the legislative life Democrats have lived for years?

And true to their ongoing status as political followers and not leaders, Landrieu and Lieberman -- putting aside the fact that Holy Joe can no longer even be considered a Democrat -- lap it right up and forget who it is that over the last few years would not have pissed across the aisle if a Democrat was on fire.

These two want to snuggle up to the same people who forced the formation of the "Gang of 14" by threatening to remove the filibuster as the minority party's only vestige of procedural control -- and thus create a Senate where Republican dominance would be so non-negotiable that Democrats might as well stay home every day and watch "Judge Judy."

The best former Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) could ever do for the Democrats was to threaten the legislative equivalent of cutting their last life-line and making the confirmation of some onerous right-wing judges the only option to drowning.

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) said earlier this month of the Republicans' filibuster extortion that "it was so anti-Senate and it was so anti-American" and vowed he would never do something that despicable in his new role leading the Senate.

Republicans who suddenly want to make nice are the party of incoming Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-MS) who sneered "I thought we were having global warming" right into the Congressional Record as Democrats fought earlier this year to fund the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for the elderly and disabled.

And this same Republican party behaved in an ongoing partisan fashion so extreme that they simply abandoned their Constitutional responsibility to perform oversight on the executive branch of government, in favor of rigid, party-line tribute to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and zero loyalty to the American people.

Pat Roberts (R-KS), the GOP's empty suit who warmed the lead chair in the Senate Intelligence Committee for the last two years, would not have investigated this White House if the FBI showed him video of Bush and Cheney delivering a dozen roses and a Whitman Sampler to Osama bin Laden's cave. This highly-partisan malfeasance eventually forced Reid to invoke Senate Rule 21 in November 2005 and shut down the Senate entirely, in a desperate attempt to get Republicans to act responsibly and at least begin investigating Bush's shady use of pre-war intelligence to start the Iraq war.

The Republican party's newfound bipartisan spirit didn’t seem to exist when they shoved through ultra-conservative Supreme Court nominees in lieu of forcing Bush to nominate moderates that both parties could rally around. Their consensus-filled hearts weren't apparent when they swift-boated Max Cleland and John Kerry and, most recently, did the racist "Harold, call me" number on Harold Ford Jr. in this year's Tennessee Senate contest.

Is there a thinking Democrat in the country who believes we can expect even the slightest derivation from that slimy game plan in 2008?

In addition to shooting down almost 75 percent of the few Democratic-sponsored bills that even made it to the Senate floor, the Republicans have previously duped Democrats into supporting the bogus No Child Left Behind scheme -- only to refuse full funding for the program -- questioned their patriotism when some refused to support the Patriot Act and the stupid flag-burning amendment and, of course, lied to get authorization for the Iraq war.

Famed Republican guru Grover Norquist once said that "bipartisanship is another name for date rape" and, far from being extreme invective, this is exactly the creed that the Republican party has lived at least since the old-school King of Slime, Lee Atwater, race-baited the 1988 presidential race by springing Mr. Willie Horton on Michael Dukakis. People like Lieberman and Landrieu will never understand that Republicans see true bipartisanship not as a strength, but as a weakness to be despised and exploited.

In a joint letter to their Senate colleagues, Snowe and Landrieu tried to speak for the country and said that Americans "… are tired of the extremes on both sides pulling us apart, paralyzing effective action. That was a clear message of the 2006 elections."


By voting for such a colossal shift in the House of Representatives and giving Democrats control of the Senate in a massive and rare six-seat pickup, Americans said one thing and one thing only to Republicans: "We want Democratic leadership and we don't want you in charge any longer." Period.

They didn’t say we like some of what you've done the last few years -- they said we like none of what you've done. So why in the world would any Democrat interpret that landslide endorsement for complete change as such a watered-down, half-and-half order?

Harry Reid did a superb job keeping Democrats together as Minority Leader and one of his biggest challenges in the next two years will be to honor the voters' mandate and move real Democratic change through the Senate without any traces of the Republican hangover that Americans have so strongly rejected.

If Reid remembers the lessons of the last few years -- on where the GOP truly stands on bipartisanship -- and shows leadership on the ideals he fought for in vain in the last Congress, look for a lot of howling and hypocritical whining from the Republican side of the aisle.

And they can all just flat-out go to hell.

Republicans made this bile-filled, partisan stew long ago -- now they can damn well eat it.