No Shame in the GOP

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio had to fly back to Washington last night to cast the necessary vote for the stimulus bill because Sen. Ted Kennedy was too ill to come to the floor from the hospital. Did it not occur to any of the GOP senators opposing the bill to say, "Sen. Brown, stay at your mother’s wake. I will switch my vote." Any senator who conducted him or herself in such fashion would have no difficulty explaining to the folks back home that while genuinely opposed to the bill, voting for it was an act of kindness to a colleague.

The fact that no GOP senator thought to do so tells you all you need to know about the GOP these days. Having been tossed from the seat of power, they have descended into a Hobbesian metaphor: nasty and brutish, though I hope their time in the political wilderness is anything but short. And the Democrats should seat Al Franken tomorrow.

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8 years 8 months ago
Maybe all of the GOP felt so strongly that this was a bad bill that they were hoping the Senator's plane would be delayed!
8 years 8 months ago
Principle is principle. Cheers to the GOP for standing firm! Shame on you, Michael, for trying to use the funeral for another attack on the GOP. You know how wicked the Democrats are and would say that another Republican saw the light.
8 years 8 months ago
Michael: Sometimes it appears you take the DNC talking points of the day e mail blast and reprint them here without thinking or challenging the partisan nature of the message. First of all, the shameful Republicans scheduled the vote before a long weekend and only few hours after the House voted — without posting the proposal on line in advance so everyone could read it as was promised by the Congressional leadership? Alas no, it was Sen. Brown’s own leadership that scheduled this vote on Friday night despite knowing his need to return home. Do you wonder why the vote could not be held say Monday or Tuesday morning (financial markets are closed Monday anyway)? It is pretty clear to me that the Democratic congress and the White House wanted this vote to occur before everyone digested the final document and objections arose - and not just from lost in the wilderness republicans. I say this as someone who thinks we need to do something yet have misgivings that this plan is so full of billions of unrelated spending programs that it will not stimulate the economy but will instead stimulate inflation and higher interest rates later this year without a corresponding recovery. Of course some of the GOP leaders are stuck in the mud, but moderates like John McCain are not simply objecting to the unending spending in this bill for the sake of obstructing. Another thought. Go back four years to a Republican controlled senate. Would you have equally insisted that a democratic senator vote against their conscious to reauthorize the war in Iraq or vote for using water boarding, as a courtesy to a republican senator who could not be in Washington? I am not talking about some insignificant procedural vote—but one of the handful of high profile votes that a senator will make. The answer is obvious. I am sorry that Sen. Brown had to leave his mother’s wake. Perhaps ask Sen. Reid why he did not have the courtesy to wait until Monday or Tuesday to hold the vote?
8 years 8 months ago
Wow. This might be the most ludicrous and absurdly melodramatic political post I have ever read. You invoke the picture of a war of all against all because no Republican senator wanted to switch his or her vote on a trillion dollar bill that has the potential to plunge us even further into economic disaster? Are you serious? Every senator had a duty to vote their conscience on that bill, not only because of its immediate consequences but also symbolically: the ability to go back to their constituents and say, "I voted NO." This is American politics, not student council. And this is a trillion dollar spending bill, not some non-binding resolution. Senators know the sacrifices they may have to make. Moreover, Sen. Brown made it back -- the president sent him a plane to bring him to the vote and then back to his mother's funeral. And do you think for one second that Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid would urge a democrat to vote "yes" instead of "no" on so momentous a bill merely out of charity? Do you really think that? I wonder how far the president's supporters will resort to this low hyperbole in defense of his agenda. If FOCA ever reaches a vote, and should a democrat not be able to make it, should a Republican vote "yes" to save a democrat the inconvenience of a flight back? Imagine that back home: "Sorry, my dear constituents, I know I just voted for a bill that utterly devalues unborn life and decimates all efforts of the pro-life movement, but Senator So-and-So would have had to take a government-provided airplane to Andrews Air Force Base, to be whisked to the Capitol with a police escort. I couldn't suffer him to have to do that."
8 years 8 months ago
An even better alternative would be to delay the vote a few days. This would have the added benefit of making the text available for those citizens who want to read a few of the provisions. The American people, no less than Mr Brown, deserve minimal consideration.
8 years 8 months ago
The Bush administration did some nasty things in their final days. One of them was that the outgoing attorney general Michael Mukasey ruled that immigrants have no constitutional rights to effective legal representation in deportation hearings. I hope this is changed soon.
8 years 8 months ago
Amen to everything you said. Other than the fact that they cynically claim to be 'pro-life' everything else about modern day Republicanism strikes me as the antithesis of basic Christian charity. Shortly before the election our pastor shared his PERSONAL OPINION during Sunday homily that we would be judged severely by God if we failed to vote for the southern good ole boys party (my terminology) on election day. It's disgusting to see bishops and priests attempt to manipulate the 'Catholic vote' on the basis of a single issue that conventiently never seems to be addressed in any meaningful way, yet the 'collateral damage' is quite staggering.
8 years 8 months ago
The Saturday Night Live opening sketch presented it well. Republicans are in their bubble and betting against the success of this controversial approach with 2010 already in their sights.
8 years 8 months ago
Actually, I think the more common practice in the Senate is to "pair non-votes" as a courtesy. In this case, a Republican would only have to agree not to vote at all on the bill to match the non-vote of the absent member on the other side of the bill. That way the non-voter doesn't have to take a vote that violates his conscience. In a certain sense, wouldn't voting "yes" to a bill that you really believed was harmful qualify as something akin to lying? An elected member of a legislative body, it would seem, has agreed to vote according to his belief about the wisdom of certain kind of legislation. Voting against his belief would strike me as wrongful, even if done for a nice motivation. Not voting at all, though, would seem to be morally acceptable under these circumstances.
8 years 8 months ago
Go Michael! Do you think they are just too afraid of the wrath of Rush Limbaugh?
8 years 8 months ago
It's amazing that the GOP Amen Corner is now noticing this and not noticing a juicy web-only discussion on abortion.
8 years 8 months ago
This is a sad commentary on our times. I'd like to suggest that as we approach Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season, Catholics of good will consider abstaining from all cable news, talk radio, and internet rhetoric for 40 days. Quiet the mind, still the heart, look into the eyes of your neighbor, love your children. Listen to God's still small voice and hold our nation in prayer.
8 years 8 months ago
Sherrod Brown's mother passed away two weeks ago. If the senator had wished to avoid the minor inconvenience of a one-hour trip on a private plane to cast a decisive vote, he could have scheduled the memorial service on a weekend. Of course, if President Obama had not broken his commitment to give congress and the American people the opportunity to read the 1,000-plus page bill that he insisted on ramming through sight-unseen on Friday, Senator Brown could have mourned his late mother without interruption. But while we are on the subject of congressional courtesy, I invite you to recall the 2001 budget act vote, where the Democratic leadership refused to allow Senator Biden to pair his vote with Republican Senator Strom Thurmond, forcing the 93-year-old Thurmond to needlessly endure an all-night marathon that almost killed him.
8 years 8 months ago
I think what Michael was getting at is that there was a time when party comity would dictate that if a member could not be present another would pair his opposing vote with him, so the net impact would be zero if both could not vote. Of course, this ignores the fact that to overcome the Budget Act point of order raised against the Stimulus Act requires 60 votes to overcome it, even with 99 sworn members. It would be too much to ask to have a Republican resign to make the magic number 59. After counting noses, the decent thing to do would have been the withdrawl of the point of order once it was determined that three Republicans were voting with the majority and there were no majority defections. It is particularly sad for the GOP that they are repeating the cliche of 1993 of having no GOP support in the House (God bless Snowe, Collins and Specter for not repeating that error). Recall that the plan which passed in 93 resulted in a balanced budget and the longest period of economic expansion in history. If Clinton had not geeked to GOP demands late in his administration to lower capital gains tax rates (along with other GOP tax concessions), the extra funds which fueled the tech bubble might not have been available (just as if the Bush cuts had not occurred the funds for securitizing toxic mortgage assets would not have been looking for a high return bad investment).
8 years 8 months ago
No shame Michael Sean Winters! How can you blame the Republicans for Sen. Brown deciding to fly back and leave his mother's wake? Have you heard of free will Mr. Winters? No one coerced Mr. Brown to leave and no one should be asked to change their vote on something they do not believe in. Your comment is just another attempt at Republican bashing. Shame you Mr. Winters!
8 years 8 months ago
Seems like Mr. Winters is sure right about this. What kind of silliness is going on such that the rescue of the whole economy and maybe way of life is held up to almost ransom. Is this really a problem and program that divides along party lines?
8 years 8 months ago
"Any senator who conducted him or herself in such fashion would have no difficulty explaining to the folks back home that while genuinely opposed to the bill, voting for it was an act of kindness to a colleague" Umm, no. This bill is way too important for that. What on earth are you drinking, MSW?

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