Sunday, April 24, 2005

Broder and Will

Today's Washington Post contained two interesting columns, one by George Will and one by David Broder. Will's column was, well, a mess, to say the least. He listed off a lot of statistics and I think he had a point he was trying to get at, but I sure couldn't figure out what it was. I guess he was trying to signal the impending death of old media, which would, in turn, signal his end, but that's as best as I can guess.
Broder, meanwhile, says Democrats should enter into an agreement over the filibuster, dropping it for this current crop of judges in favor of a promise from the President to drop any more recess appointments and the Republicans to guarantee a week of debate on each candidate. Broder claims that the moderate center is where the power lies in the Senate, a conclusion I absolutely disagree with.
If the power were in the middle, you wouldn't have seen Arlen Specter, a centrist, back down right after the election after he spoke of not allowing extremists to the floor. Specter was pummeled badly, and gave in. That would point to the power not being in the center, because if it were, Specter wouldn't have gotten his tuckus kicked.
Secondly, I bring you to Bill Frist's appearance today on "Justice (for conservative Christians) Sunday." If the center held the power, Frist wouldn't have made that appearance. Even if Democrats offered the Broder plan, there is no guarantee that A: Frist wouldn't try to drop his nuclear option on them (and this is a GOP term), and B: that Frist and/or Bush would go back on their word. They don't have to keep their word. They hold all the power in government right now, and since this President has shown an amazing inability to keep his word.
Broder has it wrong. The centrist GOP members have their hands tied. Some of them, like Chafee, are dependent on his caucus to help him raise money in his overwhelmingly blue state. If they are to survive, they have to go for what the crazy right wants, and that includes these judges.
I think people see the issue the way it's framed for them. If Democrats are successful in the framing, then it's the GOP who will suffer. The government shutdown was blamed on Gingrich because Clinton framed it better. If the GOP does all the framing on this one, and Democrats don't get a fair chance to explain their positions, then, yes, the Democrats will be blamed.
So, who will win the framing game? So far this year, it's Democrats. Social Security changes are failing, the Schiavo thing was a mess, DeLay is in trouble, and Bush's approval ratings have dropped drastically. What Democrats need to do to sustain it is dredge up all the old quotes by these leaders when it comes to judges, when it comes to filibusters, and for Bush, when it comes to Social Security. They've given probably three different positions already. The people at DailyKos have already found many.
I wish the center held the true power, I really do. In most ways, I am a centrist. I don't agree with everyone on the left or on the right. I'm a defense hawk, but I believe in responsibility. I'm pro-choice, but there should be some sensible limits on it (for instance, partial-birth abortion should be a medical decision for health reasons, not a mom who's tired of being pregnant). I believe if churches don't want to sanction gay marraige, that is their choice, but a secular government should not bar it on religious grounds. I believe bipartisanship is important, and people are so afraid of party leaders that may or may not be extremists that they don't think independently, or work with those on the other side enough. I believe in an independent judiciary, one who makes decisions based on the law, not on personal beliefs. I believe a so-called "divided government" is one that usually rules best, because one side having all the power is dangerous, and this way, compromise can be obtained.
We don't have a strong center, and we don't have compromise in today's government. David Broder, you fail to see that the extremists have power, and they are clubbing the center to death with it.


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