Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Swimmer

Meet the Press will not air Sunday, Nov. 24, due to NBC's Coverage of Formula 1 Racing

So you'll have to buy your Both Sider smack somewhere else.

Like. say, from the PBS News Hour:
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, [Democrats] made a big mistake.

There's -- Mark's right. There's no question there's been a deterioration of norms, but that's no reason to basically begin the erosion of the institution of the Senate, what makes the Senate special. When you go to the Senate dining room and you look at the senators, they actually do talk to each other across party lines. They have working relationships. It's not great. It's not the way it used to be.

But they basically have working relationships. And they were able to pass legislation, even immigration reform, a couple weeks or months ago, because they have to do that, because to get a lot of stuff passed, including nominations, you have got to get 60 votes. And it's very rare that one party has 60 votes. So, they're used to working across party lines, in a way they just aren't in the House.

And so, if you take away that 60-vote thing, starting now with some of the nominations, but probably going within a couple of years to the Supreme Court nominations and maybe the legislation, you basically are turning the Senate into the House. You're basically beginning the erosion of what makes the Senate special, beginning the erosion of minority rights.

You're creating a much more polarized body over the long term. So, if you think partisanship and polarization are in short supply, well, then this was a good move, because we're going to have more of it, I think, in the medium and long term.
I have to give Mark Shields (David Brook's Lou Costello) credit for pointing out that Mr. Brooks' analysis is patently absurd. That the Senate has already become a shithole of Republican obstructionist nihilism thanks entirely the coordinated sabotage of the institution by Republicans:
MARK SHIELDS: David's -- David's analysis is, as always, interesting, but erosion of partisan -- of comity and good feelings is not beginning with this. This is not -- this is not a cause.

This is an effect of what has happened. I mean, this is a consequence of what has been going on. In running administration, Judy, personnel is policy. If you can't have your own people at a department or an agency, you can never -- you can never execute or be responsible for -- for the administration of justice and the law, which is your obligation. ...
But Mr. Brooks did not get to be the Sage of the Beltway without a truly epic capacity to ignore observable reality in favor of his prefabricated Both Sider advice that he best way for Democrats (and this advice always applies exclusively to Democrats) to get a bully to stop punching them in the face and taking their  lunch money is to continue giving that bully their lunch money and offering their face up for punching:
In the first place, what you're going to get is much more polarized judges. Now you have to kind of pick a nominee who is going to get some votes from the other party. Once this rule is in place, you don't have to do that. Both parties are going to go to their bases and we will have a much more polarized judiciary than we have now as a part of this.

Then the final thing to be said, I agree with Mark, there's been a deterioration of norms, but the way to fix that is try to get people to behave better. We fix the norms. You don't want to break the fundamental structures and rules of the body. To me, that's basically giving up.

And so we're sort of sentencing ourselves to a long period of greater polarization and partisanship.
And so. like the rich, shallow, delusional Neddy Merrill in John Cheever's surreal "The Swimmer", our Mr. Brooks continues to plunge indefatigably onward towards an institution which he keeps insisting is warm and vital, but which we all know by the end of the story (Spoiler Alert) has been decrepit and abandoned for years.

* The happiest words are...


Mego said...

WHY would there be 'more' partisan judges than we have now when Presidents ALWAYS had their picks and the Senate used to understand and respect that and let them be confirmed? NOW we can't even get them to the confirmation process.

Kathleen said...

Also, too, Lindsey Graham said that he had no problem with Obama's latest judicial nominee or Janet Yellin. He said he viewed his opposition as leverage for getting testimony about Benghazi. Doesn't David Brooks read the paper?

Anna Gaw said...

Making the Senate actually vote on stuff now will no doubt just destroy the institution. Those damn Democrats, how dare they start defending democracy!

Unsalted Sinner said...

I once did a blog post which presented the words "David Brooks is off today" as an example of how happiness comes in small doses. Great minds...

Actually, partisanship is in short supply in the US Senate. To a European who is used to a parliament where the majority actually gets to govern, and is therefore forced to take responsibility for its policies, it's quite sickening to see the squirming Democratic centrists Bobo loves so much act all sanctimonious while they stab their party in the back. The last thing you need is a system which enables selfish turds like Joe Lieberman to sabotage vital issues like healthcare reform just to feed their ego. And the idea that a body which is already, by its very existence, providing far more protection for the minority than it could reasonably ask for should be bound by a de facto demand for supermajority is just absurd. At times it looks like the US Senate is set to do what the Polish Sejm managed in the 18th century, and basically veto itself and the nation out of existence.

marindenver said...

@Kathleen - yes, the Dems had to do this for the same reason they wouldn't negotiate over shutting down the government or defaulting on the debt. When it all becomes about hostage taking you've just got to send the naughty children to their rooms and regain control of the process. David Brooks is a well paid horse's ass.

paleotectonics said...

because they have to do that, because to get a lot of stuff passed, including nominations, you have got to get 60 votes. And it's very rare that one party has 60 votes.

Dear lil' Davey,

No, you goddam criminal screwball!

There are a few things requiring a supermajority of one percentage or another - cloture, impeachment, ratification of an amendment to the Constitution, I think one or two others.

Cloture, however, is neither a policy procedure nor part of confirmation - it stops a filibuster so the senate can resume debate or take a vote. Actual policy, actual confirmation, simple fucking majority.

Yes, 60 votes has become the norm, due to the need to stop a filibuster on everything! Rename a post office? Filibuster! Someone to wipe Dave Vitter's ass? Filibuster?

And on those rare occasion the filibuster is ended, simple majority. 50, 51 in case of a tie with all senators voting, requiring the president of the Senate to vote unless he is in an undisclosed location or taking some headshots.

You have set a new standard for dumb bastard.

Love, paleo

Horace Boothroyd III said...


This bears repeating.

For instance, the Bush tax give away that did so much to drain the Treasury was passed on a 50:51 vote with accused felon Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney casting the deciding vote in his role as Senate President.

The Democrats did not torpedo this highly partisan bit of legislation because that would have violated the Gentlemen's Agreement by which the Senate has always worked. As the Republicans have deliberately broken that Agreement, time and time again, the majority voted quite properly to modify the rules and restore the normal working order.

And nice invocation of Senator David Bruce "Diaper Dave" Vitter. What is it with crooked Republicans and the middle name Bruce, anyway?

Batocchio said...

In an amazing coincidence. Brooks peddled the same crap on NPR, and was refuted by E.J. Dionne. As is often the case, it was "tone" versus "facts." And notice that Brooks is trying to sell 60 votes as the intended norm, rather than the result of Republican obstruction? (Paleo noticed the con, too. Sadly, many other Villagers agree with Brooks.)

Montag said...

It must be a process of slow acculturation that causes me to think that I would have been surprised if Bobo hadn't said something monstrously stupid about this change, that he would not be working the refs for all he's worth.

The right wing now thinks that they're entitled to run the country even when they lose elections, and that's what's behind this gigantic fuck-you filibuster nonsense that's been going on for ages. Every court appointment they can keep open until a Republican gets into the White House is one more lifetime position they can fill with some lying extremist yahoo prick who would murder his own mother to get a chance to fuck over the general public in favor of the rich and powerful.

And that is exactly what Bobo wants, but cannot say forthrightly, so, instead, he whines about a lack of bipartisanship. Among a great many other unpleasant things, he's still a transparent hack.

Monster from the Id said...

OK, there is one significant difference between the two major parties; they are owned by different factions of the Malefactors Of Great Wealth.

The hardline faction of the MOGW, which thinks it can bring back the 19th Century and brazen it out forever, owns the GOP.

The moderate faction of the MOGW, which recognizes that the GOP has gotten a wee bit scary of late, and which recognizes the plutocrats do need to throw us peasants just enough scraps from the table to prevent rebellion (but not one scrap more, mind you), owns the Dem Party.

The rank and file of the GOP consists of people who are willing to live in squalor while their masters live in splendor, just as long as they get to feel some witless, intangible, tribalistic superiority to Those Other Not-Really-Human People.

The rank and file of the Dem Party consists of people who insist on some tangible reward for their votes, but are willing to settle for half-rotten scraps from the plutocrats' table, blaming the GOP, and only the GOP, all the while for the low numbers and poor quality of the scraps.


Kathleen said...

@marindenver: "David Brooks is a well paid horse's ass".

Your description is so much kinder than mine.