Sunday, September 16, 2007

Instilling Failure

This is really interesting from the Washington Post in what it doesn't say.


Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday he would recommend a veto of a Senate proposal that would give troops more rest between deployments in Iraq, branding it a dangerous "backdoor way" to draw down forces.

Democrats pledged to push ahead with the plan by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., and expressed confidence they could round up the votes to pass it, although perhaps not by the margin to override a veto.

Gates was asked in broadcast interviews about recommending a veto to Bush should the proposal pass. "Yes I would," the Pentagon chief said.

"If it were enacted, we would have force management problems that would be extremely difficult and, in fact, affect combat effectiveness and perhaps pose greater risk to our troops," he said.

I really don't have a problem with that. It's always been understood that Bush would oppose operating within the realistic framework military commanders thought necessary and that made the Webb proposal the preferred minimum requirements. Giving service members the rest and training time the military command thinks they need outside of combat zones would limit Bush's ability to kill troops as fast as the politics demanded and not take credit for it.

Bush will veto any measure with even the suggestion that service men and women will end up spending equal time in and out of combat. Goddess forbid! They simply must spend more time under fire...I mean Christ, we are paying them for combat!

What I do have a problem with is the subtle idea implied in the article that, all of a sudden, 60 out of a hundred is the "new" majority in the Senate.

Supporters of Webb's proposal say it has at least 57 of the 60 votes needed for passage. It would need 67 votes to override a veto.

This is not sloppy writing, this is intentional. The "60 votes needed for passage" actually refers to the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture on a Republican filibuster, so that the Senate can vote on the measure. The reality is that you still need only 51 votes to pass a a measure in the Senate. It is only when the minority party pulls the filibuster gag that you need 60 votes.

This isn't just bad writing or poor reporting...this is intentionally framing the notion that everything brought to a vote in the Senate will automatically be subject to a filibuster. Why is this important? It is important because it makes Republican obstructionism less obvious.

This is wrong on several levels but most importantly the Senate has been creating unanimous consent agreements that actually codify the process of filibuster. By agreeing with both sides ahead of time that 60 votes actually will be required to pass certain legislation the Democrats are codifying failure into everything they do. In case you don't want to think this through...what this does is allow the minority to build a pain-free filibuster into almost any bill. If I were a Democrat( I am) I might find this a little self defeating. Allowing a "pain free filibuster" especially on funding the Iraq disaster should be very painful for the Republicans. In the current process they get a free ride since people are led to believe that 60 votes are the rule and not the exception. The Democrats need to make sure that they are not letting an "invisible filibuster" take away the pain for the Republicans(and Smoking Joe).

Come on guys, we accept the occasional failure and we recognize the difficulties but Jeebus H Christ quit reloading so fast and don't hand your loaded weapons to the other guys.

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