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The Left saw the effects of the true mainstream on the Senate Democratic caucus this afternoon, as the realists finally decided to put an end to the filibuster lunacy once and for all. Nineteen Democrats split away from twenty-four who took obstructionism to its bitter end, ensuring an end to debate on Judge Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court and a final roll-call vote tomorrow morning:
In the end, only 24 of the chamber's 44 Democrats went along with the filibuster, a maneuver allowed under Senate rules to block a vote by extending debate indefinitely. It was also supported by the chamber's lone independent, Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont.
Arguing against cutting off debate, Sen. John Kerry -- who spearheaded the filibuster effort with his fellow Massachusetts Democrat, Sen. Ted Kennedy -- said Alito's record during his 15 years on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has given "the extreme right wing unbelievable public cause for celebration."
"That just about tells you what you need to know," Kerry said. "The vote today is whether or not we will take a stand against ideological court-packing."
But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said the move to cut off debate fulfilled a "very straightforward principle -- a nominee with the support of a majority of senators deserves a fair up-or-down vote."
Some of the more prominent Democrats refused to own up to reality. Every Senator who has either declared an interest in running for President or presumed to have an interest in the office voted against cloture and for a filibuster, including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Joe Biden, Russ Feingold, and Evan Bayh -- the latter who often gets described as a moderate in the Democratic ranks. Their leadership also showed their cluelessness, with Harry Reid and Dick Durbin also supporting the filibuster -- and watching as the rest of their party decided to vote for moderation and tradition, not to mention reality.
What will this mean for the Democrats? It exposes a couple of truths, painful realizations that they have willfully ignored for the past three electoral cycles. First and foremost, the rank-and-file Democrats now understand that organizations like PFAW and NARAL do not represent "mainstream" views, but instead belong on the fringes of an increasingly incoherent left wing. Pressed to back up their rhetoric with a groundswell of public opinion, they ranted and raved on television, radio, and through a road show -- and wound up with Alito still commanding a 2-1 edge for confirmation despite their smear campaigns. They may have belatedly discovered that their worship of abortion on demand has turned off a large number of voters.
Second, the bloviating of people like Ted Kennedy does not inspire the middle to their ranks, but instead repels more and more centrists through the obvious hyperbole and hypocrisy it demonstrates. The disgusting character assassination that Democrats attempted on the Judiciary Committee, propelled onward by the PFAW/NARAL crowd, alienated many who might have had some sympathy with the Democrats' agenda otherwise. Extreme tactics and rhetoric denote desperation and a lack of intellectual support, two conditions not known for their attractiveness in politics.
The party may also have lost the radical-left bloggers and the energy they provide, at least in the short term. The outrage on the Daily Kos site threatens to attack half of the sitting Democratic caucus in the Senate, including every Senator who has to run for re-election in a red state. The blogging by Kerry and Kennedy on Kos' site turned out to be a waste of time, and worse yet, a tease that encouraged the hard Left to energetically campaign for a strategy that half of the Senate didn't follow. They feel betrayed -- and perhaps rightfully so, although John Aravosis at Americablog tried to warn them to back off.
The media predicted a permanent split on the Right over the Harriet Miers nomination, but it might be more likely that the Left will split over the failure of the Alito filibuster. The 2006 election just took an unexpected turn.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Captain's Quarters has a good post on the things that the Dems have been ignoring that have helped Alito along:What will this mean for the Democrats? It exposes a couple of truths, painful realizations that they have willfully ignored for... [Read More]
Tracked on January 30, 2006 9:43 PM
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