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Kara Vallow Headshot

The 41 Percent Majority

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So remind me, since when did 41 percent of 100 suddenly constitute a majority?

Oh yeah, I remember now: since George W. Bush slunk out of Washington DC in ignominy not 365 days ago. And since the wannabe bipartisan Democratic majority in both houses swore their oaths of office this January, empowered by a landslide election and a popular mandate for change like none seen since the rout of the Goldwaterites in 1964. And yet, since then they have pussyfooted, wavered, caviled and serially wimped out on what that majority means for them.
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It's housecleaning time, starting with the Senate Majority Leader. We need a new LBJ, a master of the legislative process not above above using coercion, threats, or actual physical intimidation to push through legislation (how long would it take the Cosmo model or Joe Lieberman to crack under "the treatment"?). Rahm Emmanuel was appointed to be tough on the Congress he supposedly knows inside and out, to whip them into line and scourge them inch by agonizing inch towards the Dems' version of the shining city on the hill. And what have we seen? A president and his primary henchman for Congressional liaison behaving as if their election was settled by the Supreme Court, as if they were possessed of a wafer-thin, Carter-era majority in both houses, and dependent on the goodwill of their enemies to get a single thing done. We gave them an axe and told them to start chopping; said axe is currently rusting, unused and forgotten, in the Democratic tool shed. Certainly no one used it in the farrago lately witnessed in Massachusetts. I mean, really, could we not beat this guy in Ted Kennedy's hometown seat? A single Google search and a few strategic leaks, plus a half-decent, non-complacent, flesh-pressing candidate, would have dispatched this fool to history's dumpster weeks ago. Leave it to meth-mouth Glenn Beck to blurt out what all of America is thinking: Ted Kennedy's predecessor is a creep, and a 48 Hours Mystery episode waiting to happen.

Let's roll some numbers. Apparently 41 votes in the Senate -- courtesy of the Cosmo model and sexist idiot just elected -- is enough to kill health care reform. Flashback now to 2001, when Bush 43's noxious tax-cuts for the already obscenely wealthy, which helped bring the nation that much closer to our present financial state, were forced through the Senate by reconciliation -- that allegedly foul and iniquitous practice, as Republicans call it now -- on a 58-30 vote. Two years later, another round of tax cuts for Dubya's fat cat pals went through, also by reconciliation, on a 50-50 vote, that odd 101st vote being Darth Cheney's tiebreaker. And another veep-vote of 50-51 gave us the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.

So much for reconciliation -- apparently, when the GOP uses it, it's a legitimate legislative tool, but the Democrats refuse to touch the one potent weapon at hand. Same with the filibuster when the shoe was on the other foot a few years back. If Democrats deem the filibuster such a mighty and all-powerful weapon, and the 60-vote majority its only remedy, then why were they loath to use the filibuster themselves at times when it might have made a difference? Case in point, when John Roberts and Samuel Alito were flagrantly misrepresenting themselves as mainstream moderates before the Senate during their confirmation hearings five years ago. With the obscene and profoundly anti-democratic ruling, passed down Thursday by the Roberts-Alito Supreme Court, that frees up corporate dollars in gargantuan amounts to corrupt our political process all over again (every politician in Congress is now beholden to big money threats against their incumbency), I bet there are plenty of Dems ruing their party's pusillanimity in those vital votes. Actual democracy got bought off and was rendered almost meaningless today. And Democrats did nothing when it might have counted. Is this ever going to change?

When a vote comes up in a Dem-controlled Congress on a matter of supreme importance, not just for the Democrats but for the nation as a whole, like health care reform, a repeatedly deferred dream of Dems these seven decades past and suddenly within grasping distance, the pantywaist Dems are all kid gloves, soft steps, and never-ending backrubs for the sociopathic vandals who want nothing but to derail it. Ah, they say, it's not for us honest Dems to stoop to the levels of deviousness and procedural fanaticism plumbed by the most ruthless administration since Richard Nixon was compiling enemies' lists and secretly bombing Cambodia on Christmas. No, no, we're too dainty for all that, as we vainly struggle for bipartisanship against a political enemy that slaps away the hand of friendship at every turn.

People have to learn, and sometimes the only efficient teachers are the horse whip and the cattle prod. We did not dance hand in hand with them to the conference table and give them every last thing they wanted. Goddamnit, we beat them, just like we beat McCain last fall. We ground the Republicans to a fine dust all across the political spectrum, and yet refused to make them beg for mercy. Sherman marched across Georgia outing everything to the flame here to the horizon, entirely untroubled and unrestrained by considerations of "bipartisanship."

And yet, since the Dems won on every front in November 2008, they've acted like a defeated army, not like victors. Everything that's transpired politically since has been framed within propaganda terms entirely set by the vanquished, thus granting them full legitimacy. And Obama, in his deluded quest for bipartisanship -- which, like objectivity and balance in reporting, is a rancid chimera masquerading as a twinkly utopian ideal -- has repeatedly made nice with people who won't give him an inch. Hell, he did it again Wednesday, calling for the Senate to delay moving forward on health care bills until Cosmo Nudie-Boy from Massachusetts is seated, be he naked or clad. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld would have called the Senate vote for this morning, and bludgeoned it through intact. What is wrong with us?

Elsewhere on the landscape yesterday, there was a surfeit of Democrats running around with their underwear on fire, including, depressingly, the normally two-fisted Barney Frank, usually the only guy showing Dems what a fighter really looks like. Evan Bayh was as useless and two-faced as always, ready to shoot his own party's signature legislation in the face almost immediately as he results were in (I think we know who he's working for, and it's not the American people). It was a never-ending circular firing squad conducted in full public view, an Irish bar fight of mutual recrimination and denunciation. Then, of course, the GOP crowed all the livelong day about how this spelled the death of the Obama Dream, and foretold a crushing right-wing/Tea Party landslide in the 2010 midterms. The Republicans, evil and nihilistic as they are, would have presented a lock-jawed united front in public and conducted their reprisals entirely in secret, taking the guilty and quietly shooting them in the head out back by the loading-dock.

Suddenly that old Will Rogers line about belonging to "no organized political party -- I'm a Democrat," tastes like bile puked up into the mouth. I've spent the last year waiting for my party to grow a pair. Today, I want to borrow Jesse Jackson's rusty gelding knife and just lop them off altogether. Obama and his enforcers seem to be living on some ethereal cloud of "hope" and "bipartisanship," inhaling a rarified air the rest of us can't breathe, and have pissed away all the goodwill they earned a year ago. Maybe this is the wake-up call they need. It's time to fire some people (Treasury, I'm looking at you fools) and it's time to fight, long hard and, just this once, dirty.

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I'm not waiting up nights for that, though.