Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dems Should Watch Out For What They Wish

This is an essay the progressive pundits and Democratic congress men and women don't want to hear. The two issues I am addressing is a warning, in one, and a solution that would defuse a sensitive racial canard in the other.

Issue No. 1 is a stampede to kill or modify the Senate's 60-vote filibuster rule.

Let me say at the outset that even the most die-hard Republican with an ounce of honesty in his character would agree that this session of Senate Republicans have flagrantly abused the rule by threatening cloture on almost every piece of major legislation brought before the Senate. Let me also say that Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Democratic caucus have lacked the backbone to call the Republicans' bluff by waiving Rule 12. That would force the filibuster sponsor to talk until he dropped as was the case during the Civil Rights debate of the 1960s when Southern Democrats filibustered for 43 days. The voters turned on them.

The best way to make my point is by telling a story.  It is a story told in the book and movie "A Time To Kill." The young attorney in his closing argument was defending his black client who shot and killed the two white rednecks accused of assaulting, raping, unsuccessfully lynching and throwing the man's 10-year-old daughter 30 feet off a bridge and left to die.

Asking the jury to close  their eyes, the attorney related all but one fact of the daughter's ordeal. "Now," he instructed, "consider this little child a white girl." The jury verdict was not guilty.

The moral of the story for Democrats is what if the shoe was on the other foot.

From a practical sense, I fear the Democrats would do the same as we see the Republicans abusing the filibuster rule. Which means the Senate is destined to be dysfunctional until something sparks a revolution within the Senate's millionaire's club to stop this nonsense.

From a historical perspective, the growth of the filibuster as a political tool was not born with the Civil Rights movement but nurtured by Republicans after Democrats successfully killed the nomination of Robert Bork to a Supreme Court Justice post. Polarization became more pronounced when the Democrats opposed but lost to defeat the Justice Clarence Thomas nomination.

And in this session it spread from judicial nominations to all major legislation, in all 112 times compared to the low double digits the past three decades.

The Senate may be the greatest deliberating body of parliamentary excellence at the expense of up and down votes on legislation.

Issue No. 2 is the birther movement which progressive pundits love to thrash.

Let me say from the outset that much of the fuel feeding these zealots is the election of a black president. Now, there's one thing I know and one thing I don't know about this idiotic flap.

The Constitution requires a president to be at least age 35 and a natural born citizen. What I don't know is any legislative requirement he submit his birth certificate to any federal agency. One would presume it would be required by the Federal Elections Commission.

If not, then let's do it.

Birth certificate requirements are a common practice as every hockey mom well knows. They are required by schools and, most emphatically, the federal government to join the military or receive benefits from Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and federal housing allowances.

Were that the only reason the birther movemnt exists, I would agree with them. But, it's not. Their entire argument is cloaked in fear, conspiracy theories and a steadfast refusal to accept the truth.

My case in point is the elderly white woman at a John McCain campaign rally in New Hampshire when she told the old war hero Obama "is an Arab." McCain responded forcefully, "No, no, no" and walked away.

We can all walk away from this stupid fear mongering and defuse racial testiness by fulling the constitutional requirement to produce a birth certificate somewhere in the election process. Placing a copy of a birth certificate on a presidential web site is not enough.

Try doing that when signing up for a government program.

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