Monday, June 25, 2007

Kaus's "Special Focus"

Maybe it’s a result of reading a week’s worth of posts in one sitting rather than simply one at a time, but there is something creepy about Mickey Kaus’s ,er, special focus on defeating the immigration bill.

A couple of highlights…

Is the cloture vote the “real” vote?

Part of this focus has included counting votes for and against cloture on debate of the bill, on the assumption that if cloture passes, then the bill will pass. Even if some senators ultimately vote against the bill, it doesn’t matter because their votes for cloture have the effect of moving the bill toward forward. Voting for cloture and against the bill is a form of “kabuki” so that senators can advance the bill, but still be on the record as having opposed it. Thus, Kaus is calling us to consider a vote for cloture a vote for the bill, and hold Senators accountable accordingly.

In another context, Kaus appeals to the wisdom of the Framers in making it difficult to pass legislation.

I’m no Robert Byrd, but I’m not convinced that these high-stakes “call your Senator” procedural votes are what the Framers intended, either. It seems that they intended for there to be some space for the yes/no position – that might oppose a piece of legislation, but that it should got to an up/down vote. If this were not the case, it would have been simpler to just require a 60% majority to pass any legislation (or confirm any judges).

I understand that in this particular context, a vote for cloture does have this effect. It just seems to be that this focus on procedural votes is not what was intended. If the current Senate rules in today’s environment have this effect, then maybe they need some tinkering (preferably with a better name than “the nuclear option”.)

A Press-Proof Rally

Kaus laughably writes…

how about some street demonstrations? It worked in the '60s. The trick would be including Democrats, and keeping the protests so free of fringe elements, violence, and anything that could be characterized as anti-Latino prejudice that they couldn't be tarred by the media (which would be looking to pitch opponents as angry bigots).

Hey, while you’re at it, why don’t you organize a pro-life march that the press won’t spin as a handful of religious zealots with links to terrorists like Eric Rudolph?

Or better yet, put together a pro-immigration rally that those opposed won’t spin a gathering storm of Mexican nationalism?

It’s a little late in the day to be whining about how the press portrays the movement.