Ted Kennedy's recent request that Massachusetts legislators change the law on the filling of a senatorial vacancy really burns my ass. Until 2004, Massachusetts law gave the governor the power to appoint a temporary replacement in the event of a vacancy in one of the state's two U.S. Senate seats. But the state legislature, controlled by Democrats, changed the law that year in anticipation of the possibility that John Kerry might win the presidency, leaving his vacant Senate seat to be filled by then-Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican. Now, Kennedy wants the law changed back so that Deval Patrick, the current governor, could appoint someone to replace him immediately in the event of his death while in office. Kennedy's position is that the urgency of contemporary problems (especially the need to pass health-insurance reform) argues in favor of giving the governor the power to fill the vacancy so the seat would not be empty for the five months or so before a special election could be organized.
The Boston Globe today editorialized in favor of Kennedy's proposal. I'm glad to see that the reaction of the state's Democratic leaders to Kennedy's request is decidedly cool. Mine is downright hostile. I think it's a terrible idea. Kennedy's proposal is cynical, manipulative, and hypocritical. Yes, now would be a terrible time to have a vacant U.S. Senate seat. But what isn't such a time?! Moreover, there is no reason in the world to leave the choice of a U.S. Senator (even a temporary one) to one person. There is too much of New Jersey and Illinois in the Massachusetts political culture for me to be comfortable with gubernatorial appointment of a senator. Deval Patrick is no Rod Blagojevich, but the Kennedy tentacles are too strong in Massachusetts for anyone to trust that an appointment would be on the merits. We all know that American elections are not exactly examplars of fairness and equality, but an election is still the proper way to fill a vacancy. Massachusetts legislators should leave the law alone.
In the House today, Blue Dog Democrats succeeded in slowing down the health-care reform bill. Good for them. They must be SO proud of themselves.
Here's a good question, addressed by the following video: Why do they (Blue Dog Democrats) even exist?!
Clinton advisers informed the
Obama team that many of Clinton's staunchest
supporters [he's referring to lunatics like these] felt strongly that something had to be done, and that
Clinton had concluded that, in part for the sake of unity, their wishes
ought to be respected. They heard back immediately: the Obama campaign
had always been open to having her name
placed in nomination alongside his.
If Clinton's name is formally offered up, she could be
afforded the normal complement of nominating and seconding speeches,
and the official role call of votes will include participation from her
delegates. (In theory, if enough Obama delegates change their minds,
then Clinton could win the nomination. In practice, there's no chance
that will happen.)
Oh yeah? Remember, we're dealing with the Clintons here. The do-anything-to-win Clintons. I wouldn't be surprised if two plane-loads of Obama delegates mysteriously crash on their way to Denver and Hillary ends up the nominee.
I am so sick of the Clintons and their insatiable egos AND so sick of the whiny losers who are still stuck on Hillary's failed venture.
What's wrong with all this is that it takes the focus off of Obama during the convention and puts it where it should not be -- on Clinton and on the divisive supporters who refuse to accept her defeat.
That's what Jack Balkin says we're headed toward. And it's happening in part because of the cowardliness of Congressional Democrats:
[T]he passage of this bill
looks very much like a repeat of 2002, when the Democrats, eager not to
be cast as weak on national security, caved on supporting an
authorization for the war in Iraq, or 2006, when they caved on the
Military Commissions Act. You might think that they had learned their
lessons by now. When you give George Bush what he wants, people don't
think you are strong on national security. They think you are weak
because you are a pushover. If you can't stand up to a lame duck
President with 30 percent approval ratings, who are you ever going to
stand up to?
The answer is: "nobody." Instead of giving in to Bush, they should be impeaching and convicting him. There are very few members of Congress who are worth a damn. They're a product of a poisoned political system that has encouraged the emergence of career legislators. If you want to make a career of being in Congress, what do you do? You cave in whenever your political opponents figure out a way of spinning and framing an issue in a way that you fear will work against you. We're back to fear. Fear. That's what it's all about. Make the people fearful. Make other politicians fearful.
When the Senate capitulated yesterday on the shameful FISA bill -- allowing more warrantless wiretapping and giving immunity to cooperative telecom companies -- only fifteen Senators had the courage to try to use procedural tactics to hold up the legislation:
Joseph Biden, DE
Barbara Boxer, CA
Sherrod Brown, OH
Maria Cantwell, WA
Chris Dodd, CT
Dick Durbin, IL
Russ Feingold, WI
Tom Harkin, IA
John Kerry, MA
Frank Lautenberg, NJ
Patrick Leahy, VT
Robert Menendez, NJ
Bernie Sanders, VT
Chuck Schumer, NY
Ron Wyden, OR
Sen. Russ Feingold, an aggressive opponent of the compromise, expressed his regret over the unwillingness of most of his fellow Democrats to put up a principled fight.
"It's the latest chapter of running for cover when the
Administration tries to intimidate Democrats on national security
issues. It's the most
embarrassing failure of the Democrats I've seen since 2006, other than
the failure to vote to end the Iraq war. These are the two real sad
aspects of an otherwise pretty good record. It's letting George Bush
and Dick Cheney have their way even though they're that unpopular and
on their way out. It's really incredible."
Senator Obama's innovative plan for the general election campaign -- focusing his resources largely in 14 states Bush won in 2004 -- promises, if successful, to deliver a whole new ballgame in Washington next year.