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May 10, 2005
Schumer Eats His Words

If Charles Schumer wanted to turn public opinion against George Bush in the rhetorical battle over judicial nominations, his efforts have backfired on him, if the AP gives any indication. After Schumer's radio address decried Republican rhetoric for being "harsh", the wire ssrvice (through MS-NBC) reports today on Minority Leader Harry Reid instead as unprecedented in his personal attacks:

In an institution that prides itself as a last bastion of civility, the Senates new Democratic leader has on occasion turned to playground taunts and name-calling in his four-month tenure.

After accusing President Bush of lying about his role in a fight over judicial filibusters, Sen. Harry Reid last week called the president a loser. And Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan? Hes a political hack, according to the formerly soft-spoken Nevada Democrat. ...

Late last month, Reid complained that Vice President Dick Cheneys pledge to break a tie if necessary and to vote with Republican leaders to change the rules on filibustering judicial nominees broke Bushs promise to stay out of the fight.

Last week, I met with the president and was encouraged when he told me he would not become involved in Republican efforts to break the Senate rules, Reid said two weeks ago. Now, it appears he was not being honest, and that the White House is encouraging this raw abuse of power.

Reid told his caucus when they elected him to the leadership post that he'd rather dance than fight, but he knew how to do both. The evidence thus far shows that, at least politically speaking, he can't do either. The AP describes him as soft-spoken, but the querolous voice gets employed too often for childish name-calling, which Reid confuses frequently for biting rhetoric.

On that basis, however, he appears to be the perfect leader for an out-of-control minority caucus that has issued petulant demands to control the Senate as if it were the majority. Ever since they lost the majority in 2002, these Democrats have insisted on parity with the GOP even though the voters have clearly given the Republicans a mandate for majority status, especially after the last election. They use increasingly desperate and intellectually immature reasoning to support such demands. They claim that Republican control of the Senate somehow abrogates the Constitutional balance between the legislative branch and the executive, disregarding the votes that put the GOP in charge of both branches and the fact that the Constitution does not address checks and balances on any partisan basis at all. (It never addresses political parties at all.)

The pinnacle of this stupidity came last month, when a rash of comments led by Senator Joe Biden claimed that the GOP didn't have a majority at all. His reasoning was that the Democrats in the Senate represented a larger percentage of the population and that meant that the 44 Democrats had more of a mandate to run the Senate than the 55 Republicans did. Despite the questionable nature of this calculation -- does Minnesota count for Mark Dayton or Norm Coleman? -- the idea that the Democrats have a mandate for rule is ludicrous on its face. First, they lost a swing of eight seats in the last election. Second, the House and the Presidency both went to the GOP, and the former is actually based on population. Third, and it's embarassing to have to explain this to one of our nation's leaders, the Senate isn't supposed to provide proportional representation in Congress. Senators represent states, not people, which is why they have the duty to confirm executive-branch nominations. That duty went specifically to the Senators so that the states could ensure that the federal government composed itself in a manner acceptable to the majority of the states. Not a supermajority, for that matter, which the Constitution explicitly reserved for other purposes.

In the face of such ignorance and bitterness over losing their majority status after being in control for so long, Reid may well represent the current intellectual and emotional maturity of these Democrats. That hardly makes him a leader, and even the Exempt Media has started to notice.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 10, 2005 5:11 AM

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