do the democrats have spine enough to fight for what they claim to believe in?

Tomorrow is the day we see what the Democrats we’ve elected to serve in the Senate are made of. As you probably know, late last week Senators Kerry and Kennedy announced that they would be pushing for a filibuster against Samuel Alito, Bush’s second Supreme Court nominee for the spot being vacated by Sandra Day O’Connor. (His first nominee, Harriet Miers, didn’t satisfy the extreme religious right of the Republican party, so Bush withdrew her name and gave them what they demanded — Samuel Alito.) The question is, who will join Kerry and Kennedy, and who will, instead, choose to take the way that might prove less troublesome come reelection time (when those supporting the filibuster will no doubt be portrayed by Republicans as partisan obstructionists).

(If you haven’t done so already, you can reach the offices of your Senators at either of the following two toll-free numbers:

(888)355-3588 or (888)818-6641

The switchboards will probably be swamped on Monday, so be prepared to call a few times before getting through. When you do get though to the Senate switchboard, just ask for the office of either of your two Senators. (Every state has two, and, if you don’t know the names of yours, you can find a list here.) Once you get through to their office, you’ll get a young staffer on the line and you just have to let them know that you’re a constituent of the Senator’s and that you would like him, or her, to vote “no” on the Alito confirmation. And, unless your Senator’s on the far right, you could also ask that he or she consider joining the filibuster… You never know – if the public sentiment seems to be turning, a moderate Republican or two might decide to cross the aisle.)

The last that I heard, we probably only had 37 of the necessary 40 Senators that we’d need to make a filibuster successful, so your calls are absolutely essential. Please, even if you’ve never voted before in your life, take a few minutes to make these calls. Trust me — you’ll feel better having done something.

OK, instead of printing my own little rant here about the Democrats who have indicated that they will not be supporting a filibuster, I thought that I’d just cut-and-paste something posted by blogger David Neiwert a few days ago. Here’s what he had to say (and it goes double for me):

…I broke my longstanding policy of not donating money to political parties last fall when the folks from the DNC called and asked for money to help gird them for the upcoming fights over judicial seats. I was assured that indeed they would fight to keep right-wing extremists off the Supreme Court.

And now, faced with a clear-cut extremist (and dissembler) who is about to not only overturn the right to obtain an abortion, but also to pave the path for an imperial executive branch with limitless powers … nothing.

I’m not terribly inclined, as my readers know, to use profanity in my posts. But if the Democratic Party wants any more of my money, they can just go fuck themselves…

In defense of the Democrats, a few things have changed since then. Howard Dean, as I understand it, has come out in support of the filibuster, as has Barack Obama, who the day before had said that he would not support the move… I haven’t confirmed it yet, but according to a poster at the Daily Kos site, Senator Obama told George Stephanopoulos this morning that he would be reluctantly supporting Kerry and Kennedy, even though it ultimately would fail. According to this source, Obama “said he opposed ‘procedural maneuvers’ and wished Democrats had framed the substantive issues better,” which pissed me the fuck off. I had a lot of faith in Obama when he started in the job, but I’m losing a little bit more every day… And, if the Democrats didn’t frame the substantive issues well, then why in the hell didn’t he get in there and offer a solution?

Here, by way of background is a clip from the CNN article I linked to at the beginning of the post. It should help explain what’s taking place these next few days, procedurally speaking.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist filed a motion to cut off debate on the Alito nomination after his Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Harry Reid, objected to a move by GOP leaders to schedule a final vote on his confirmation Monday afternoon.

Frist’s motion, which requires 60 votes under Senate rules, will come up for a vote at 4:30 p.m. Monday. If successful, senators will then vote on Alito’s nomination at 11 a.m. Tuesday, with a simple majority of 51 votes needed for approval.

So, Obama might be right, and we may never have the votes to make it work, but we can’t not at least try to stand up for what we believe in. Alito is the wrong man for the Supreme Court, and we’re right to be fighting it, even if it’s probable that we’ll get our asses kicked. (To quote the President, “Bring ’em on.”)

Here’s a clip from a recent New York Times editorial:

It is hard to imagine a moment when it would be more appropriate for senators to fight for a principle. Even a losing battle would draw the public’s attention to the import of this nomination…. A filibuster is a radical tool. It’s easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court….

The judge — who long maintained that Roe v. Wade should be overturned — ignored all the efforts by the Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Arlen Specter, to get him to provide some cover for pro-choice senators who wanted to support the nomination. As it stands, it is indefensible for Mr. Specter or any other senator who has promised constituents to protect a woman’s right to an abortion to turn around and hand Judge Alito a potent vote to undermine or even end it.

And I didn’t say it before, but if you live in Pennsylvania, please call Senator Specter and remind him that you elected him to protect the Constitution and a woman’s right to choose. He knows that this nomination is wrong, and maybe if he hears from enough of his constituents, he’ll have the balls to stand up to the Republican machine and vote against Alito.

OK, that’s all I have time for right now… Let’s grab the bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground tomorrow. Let’s fight. And let’s take advantage of the fact that the President will be delivering the State of the Union address on Tuesday. Let’s keep pushing until we get the filibuster, and then let’s make the President’s speech be about Alito instead of about all the other bullshit he wanted it to be about. Let him introduce the controversy to the American people, who haven’t been paying attention, and then, when he’s done, let’s be ready to lay out our case against Alito in a unified voice. (Speaking of the State of the Union, I wanted to mention that the folks at Think Progress have something special planned.) I know that the Democrats have already announced who they are planning to have give the official rebuttal on Tuesday night, but if we make headway with the filibuster, I wonder if it would be possible to make a change. I’m thinking, for instance, that it might make more sense to have a female Senator (not Hillary) deliver a speech about a woman’s fundamental right to decide for herself what happens to her body, and how Supreme Court Justice Alito would take that right away. We can win this thing. It’s a longshot, but I’m confident that a majority of Americans don’t want a radical judicial activist on the bench, especially one that would increase the power of the Executive, and lessen the freedom of the individual. This is something we should be anxious to fight for. This is our opportunity to clearly lay out the differences between us and them.

(There are, of course, those who make a strong case against the filibuster.)

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  1. Theodore Glass
    Posted January 30, 2006 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    If the Democrats don’t stand up together and fight for this one, I’m done. I’m tired of being in a party of timidity and acquiescence. I’m tired of walking around on egg shells, trying not to wake the abusive, usually-drunk Republican party. I’m tired of, after getting my ass kicked, and then crawling off, saying that I probably deserved it. The cycle has to stop.

  2. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted January 30, 2006 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    A conversation is taking place at Metafilter that you might be interested in:

  3. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted January 30, 2006 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Opposition to Alito is now “bipartisan” – Senator Linc Chafee (R-RI), announced he is voting No on Alito.

    Keep calling.

  4. danandkitty
    Posted January 30, 2006 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    It’s a sad day.

    I can’t believe that the Dems don’t see the negative spirl that they are in following the Clinton triangulation bullshit. The more they go for the soft middle, the more they lose their base. Without base, you’ve got jack. The Rethuglicans understand this perfectly and they kowtow to their base. The dems essentially openlt scorn theirs. THAT’s the fucking problem.

  5. mark
    Posted January 31, 2006 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Dan… In fact, I think I’ll add your comment to the new post I just put up.

    And thanks to all of you who did call your Seantors. In spite of the fact that things didn’t work out like we would have liked, it really did make a difference. We wouldn’t have gotten 25 people on-board without your efforts.

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