It’s mind-boggling really: Democrats garnered 56 votes in the Senate, a strong majority, in support of Jim Webb’s bill (pdf) to protect our troops. The bill failed for one and only one reason — because obstructionist Republicans used the filibuster to prevent an up or down vote: the very same tactic, of course, they’ve been using to thwart virtually every Democratic legislative goal.
And how do major media outlets cover the story? Do they emphasize GOP obstructionism? Or the clear undermining of the will of the people? Or perhaps note the gross hypocrisy inherent in having the very same senators, who, not so very long ago, were ferociously decrying Democratic filibusters against a few judicial nominations, now using it themselves as a matter of course?
No, instead, we get this.
(AP) Senate blocks bill on Iraq combat tours
Democrats’ efforts to challenge President Bush’s Iraq policies were dealt a demoralizing blow Wednesday in the Senate after they failed to scrape together enough support to guarantee troops more time at home.
The 56-44 vote — four short of reaching the 60 needed to advance — all but assured that Democrats would be unable to muster the support needed to pass tough anti-war legislation by year’s end. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., was seen as the Democrats’ best shot because of its pro-military premise.
“The idea of winning the war in Iraq is beginning to get a second look,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who led opposition to the bill alongside Sen. John McCain.
Note the storyline: not Republican obstructionism, but Democratic failure. And that’s been the consistent theme of reporting in filibuster situations since the first day the Democrats gained majority status.
So how do we change it? Here’s my take: congressional Democrats need to make Republican obstructionism THE ISSUE for the rest of this congressional session. Forget about compromise. The only compromises that interest Bush Republicans anyway are those based upon Democratic surrender, and we’ve been down that road enough already. Besides, Beltway style deals — however much they may warm David Broder’s heart — are irrelevant to the war issue. The only “compromise” the GOP leadership will agree to now is one that maintains the status quo. The American people want us out of Iraq, period. Anything less is beside the point.
The best chance we have to speed an end of this disastrous war is to force widespread Republican defections based upon the fear of electoral defeat. But that will never happen as long as the Democrats make it easy for Republican senators and representatives to pretend they oppose the war, while actually supporting Bush. So forget the fruitless reaching across the aisle, and, instead, force one antiwar vote after another. And every time the GOP stages a filibuster, go in front of the cameras and accuse them of obstructing the will of the nation.
If the press won’t report it, go around them. Work with the netroots. Run advocacy ads. Raise hell. Then raise some more hell. And if need be, go to the voters in 2008 as the party that did everything possible to end this nightmare.
Then let democratic process settle the issue.
That’s my thinking anyway: so what are your thoughts on how the Democrats can better frame Republican congressional obstructionism?