In the single most mystifying political move I can think of... and one strangely reminiscent of John Kerry's "I actually did vote for the $87 billion (supplemental Iraq War funding bill) before I voted against it." moment... the Senate Democrats chose not to filibuster the Mukasey confirmation vote on Thursday night.
The Democrates had some pretty apocalyptic things to say about what it would mean for Mukasey to be confirmed:
"Torture should not be what America stands for . . . I do not vote to allow torture," said Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy. Russ Feingold said: "we need an attorney general who will tell the president that he cannot ignore the laws passed by Congress. And on that fundamental qualification for this office Judge Mukasey falls short." Feingold added: "If Judge Mukasey won't say the simple truth -- that this barbaric practice is torture -- how can we count on him to stand up to the White House on other issues?"
But they didn't do what the Senate Republicans have done on literally every vote where they opposed the legislative goals at stake: Require that the opposing side come up with 60 votes to get the legislature they want passed.
I don't know.
But I think we need an answer to this question, because - to me - in this single, Reality Busting Moment we have The Central Question Of The Democratic Party laid out for all to see.
That question is: Will the Democrats Save America From Itself, or Is This All Truly Just A Show, Distracting Us From What Is Really Going On Behind The Curtain?
Glenn Greenwald has written a brilliant essay on the Senate Democrat's choice not to filibuster for Salon.com, What Happened to the Senate's '60-Vote Requirement'?
I Urge You All To Read This Essay.
Greenwald's essay is a fascinating description of the parallel worlds in which the Democrats and Republicans appear to live... and how the Republicans continue to be MUCH more effective in how they pursue their goals than the Democrats.
I wish someone would explain what is going on here... because there is No Way - based on what was said about Mukasey on the floor of the Senate - that he should have been confirmed!
As I said at the top, I am mystified.
I will be calling my Senators on Monday, reading them Greenwald's essay, and demanding an explanation for this massive process / reality disconnect. Oh... and Senator Harry Reid too - 1-202-224-3542 (or toll free: 1-866-SEN-REID).
I suggest you all do the same.. and pass Greenwald's essay on to everyone else you know.
I cannot think of a clearer example of the Democrats saying one thing and doing another. But it just may be that this vote has finally pulled back the curtain on what's going on...
A little silly? Sure. But only to emphasize a serious point.
The future of our nation is at stake as never before.
And one question historians may ask when writing about this period is "Why didn't the Democratics filibuster the Mukasey nomination?"
Final thoughts... the comedian George Carlin ends a very funny routine by saying "It"s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it". I hope George is wrong. But with this reality-busting moment over Mukasey, I'm afraid he may be right.
Senator Reid, I'll be calling you on Monday to find out what the truth is.
Late Saturday Addendum:
The lead editorial in The Sunday NY Times is on this subject. Towards the end, the Times' editorial board says "All of this leaves us wondering whether Mr. Schumer and other Democratic leaders were more focused on the 2008 elections than on doing their constitutional duty. Certainly, being made to look weak on terrorism might make it harder for them to expand their majority."
It's hard for me to believe that "looking tough" was what drove the Democrats' thinking. (Given recent polls, how many Americans would feel rejecting Mukasey constituted being soft on terrorism?) But I'll include this in the questions I ask the senators I contact on Monday.
Monday Afternoon Addendum:
Sorry, folks, but when I wrote "Senator Reid, I'll be calling you on Monday..." I forgot that on Monday (today) all Federal offices are closed for Veteran's Day. I have to smile when I call and hear the computer voice say "The mailbox for Senator... is full." Reminds me of that great old movie "The Mouse That Roared", in which a small invading force (from a tiny country that wants to attack America and quickly lose so they can benefit from the "post war" support we showed enemies like Japan) actually wins the war, because when they arrive all government offices are closed for the day.
I'll make these calls tomorrow.