Friday, December 10, 2010

Sanders Filibusters and Clinton Drones On

Does it get any better on a Friday afternoon during a lame duck session than Senator Bernie Sanders bringing back a good, old-fashioned filibuster on the Senate floor and former President Bill Clinton appearing by Barack Obama's side in the White House press room to make a pitch in favor of the deal Obama struck with the Senate? No, it does not.

What a strange optic, in the current vernacular du jour, to see Obama and Clinton stroll over to the podium and speak somewhat briefly, for each of them, to the White House press corp about Clinton's summons to the Oval Office. Clinton, still a hero to Democrats of all shades in ideology, was to be the calming, reassuring voice that really, everything is ok and don't fret about the deal Barack just cut to get the extension of the current tax rates for everyone. Really, children, it's for the best, I promise.

The former president, feet firmly planted at the podium, forced Obama to speak from the side of the microphone rather than step aside for the President's answer. Amusing. Clinton brings his own version of the filibuster to the briefing room. Obama excused himself to attend a Christmas party and left Clinton on his own to answer press questions.

Clinton spoke about the "two trillion" dollars being hoarded by companies instead of being used to hire more people, create more jobs, etc. The fact is, whether this tax code renewal for all brackets goes through or not, businesses are not trusting of Team Obama and they will not be moving too far off the sidelines before 2012. Clinton spoke about the boost the extension of unemployment benefits will be to the economy. This is an odd little meme from Democrats - you may remember the nonsense Pelosi recently uttered about unemployment benefits being the best economic stimulus out there - and Bubba was happy to oblige, too.

When asked, he said he didn't think Obama could have or should have stood his ground and not compromised with the GOP. After all, he reminded everyone, the GOP will be in the majority in the House in January. He didn't, however, mention that the GOP picked up seats in the Senate for a better balance come January.

For good measure, Clinton weighed in on the ratification of the pending START Treaty. He's on board. He also brought the name of George H.W. Bush into the mix as a supporter.

All the while, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the only avowed Socialist in the Senate, is filibustering the deal. A vote has been scheduled for 3:00 PM on Monday. No word yet on how long - how serious - Sanders will continue on with the filibuster.

Senator Sanders? Bravo, Sir. That is what I would say to him. I have wanted the Senate to employ this very democratic action for some time. Nothing disappointed me more than during the previous administration, after threats of a filibuster bantered around, an actual filibuster never occurred. Sure, cots were rolled in and cable news stations covered each move with panting excitement. Then, nothing. No filibuster. It was sheer laziness. Senators, so accustomed to a cushy schedule of time on the Senate floor and no true fire in the belly for specific legislation, were unwilling to put in the time and energy needed for a filibuster.

The record remains with now deceased Senator Strom Thurman. Fortified with a good rest, a steam bath and a sirloin steak, Sen. Strom Thurmond (search) talked against a 1957 civil rights bill for 24 hours and 18 minutes — longer than anyone has ever talked about anything in Congress.

As a Republican, I do not agree with the Socialist agenda of Sanders. I do, however, strongly applaud his effort. The filibuster allows a Senator, or a team of Senators, to express opinions on pending legislation. It is meant to obstruct the schedule. It is meant to shut the Senate down for conducting business. What's not to like?

It is fine by me that Sanders chose today to shut the Senate business down. I hope he goes on for a long time, though his staff say he is not going to be setting any records.

This lame duck session has been fairly useless. Lots of stagecraft, lots of false urgency over every bit of a far left agenda not acted upon for two years. Now, with the Democratic super majority squashed and Democrats realizing the GOP will have a place at the table for the next two years of Obama's reign, hysteria overcomes reason.

Bravo, Senator Sanders.

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