As Santa is making his list this year, he need not check it twice when deciding which U.S. Senators have been naughty, and which have been nice. In this Christmas season, during which these senators have cruelly been forced to work on the people's business and have thus missed all the "Better than Black Friday" sales, it has become clear who the Grinches are, and their hearts seem stubbornly small.
First on the list of Grinchy-tricks is the filibuster of the Zadroga Bill, which would provide health care services and other compensation for 9/11 first responders. When pressed to explain a filibuster of what should be a non-controversial bill, Republicans cited their avowal to do nothing beyond extending tax cuts for the wealthy and funding the government. Lame. Yes, the American people would love to see the government make the same fiscal sacrifices our families have had to make. But no one I know would deny cancer treatment to grandma until all the credit card debt was paid off. For a party that has shamefully demagogued all things 9/11 for the past nine years, there's a particularly galling irony to this cowardice.
Next on the stealing Christmas to-do list for Senate Republicans? Kill the DREAM Act. Though a healthy majority of senators supports the measure, and it also enjoys the support of many state and local political leaders, as well as prominent members of the clergy, Senate Republicans filibustered the bill. This virtually ensures that, for hundreds of thousands of young people who have personally broken no laws, and have proven themselves to have the makings of productive and accomplished Americans, the promise of the eventual gift of citizenship will not be under the Christmas tree this year.
Finally, we have the historic repeal of the anachronistic, discriminatory policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Repeal has come, and joy abounds in much of Whoville. Still, John McCain is sad. Lindsay Graham is aghast. Despite the fact that the measure passed by a large majority, and with the support of most military leaders, and despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans and members of the military support this repeal, still we must be subjected to the embittered, bigoted sanctimony of those who fought on the wrong side of a critical battle and lost. As with all of those who have stood in the way of such progress throughout the course of history, I imagine these men will live to regret this rhetoric. But maybe not. Their hearts seem too hardened to appreciate the significance of this legislation for all of those who have to lie about one of the most fundamental aspects of their lives, while laying those same lives on the line for this country.
Senators John Kyl and Jim DeMint recently pontificated against the sacrilege of working during this holiest of seasons for the Christian faith. I don't know that I've ever borne witness to such hypocrisy and disingenuous-ness. Yes, if you're a Christian, this is, indeed, a holy holiday. Excepting Easter, the holiest, even. But to refuse to protect the most vulnerable among us, to scuttle opportunities to lift young people out of the shadows, to fight tooth and nail to deny dignity to other human beings, and place the worries and cares of the richest and most comfortable among us at the top of the priority list, then use the name of Jesus Christ to justify these actions seems to me the very essence of sacrilege. I suggest these senators reread the Sermon on the Mount. Perhaps it will refresh their memories as to what this season really should be all about.