Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Turn Out The Lights, The Party's Over

Herewith, a second-hand account of the night Harry Reid turned the Senate into the Retreat & Defeat Bed & Breakfast.

Intended to be a publicity stunt designed to bully minority Republicans into either caving on allowing cloture on a Donk amendment forcing an immediate evacuation of U.S. forces from Iraq or refusing to stay in the debate throughout last night, denying the Dems a quorum, and giving the latter the chance to ridicule GOPers as ducking a showdown on the war, Dirty Harry's bluff was called before it even became Wednesday:

So much for forcing Republicans to filibuster all night.

As the clock struck midnight and Tuesday became Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid loosened up a bit on his plans to teach members of the minority that Democrats set the schedule on the debate over Iraq. ...

Speaking of those mandatory attendance tallies, Reid changed his mind about how many, and when. He had originally planned holding one around 3 a.m. and another at 7 a.m. But that changed during the midnight vote when Senator Barbara Boxer, D-CA, made the case against senatorial sleep deprivation and impugned Reid to push the quorum call back.

Reid, who had his very own cot waiting for him in a quiet parlor off his office, agreed. Next live quorum call, he announced: 5 a.m. With a few cases of bed-head among them, senators rolled in and again passed the same motion to instruct. This time the motion passed 37-23, with dawn beginning to break by the time the tally was completed.

In the end, it was the Democrats who couldn't be bothered to pull an all-nighter. The Republicans, by stark contrast, were more than up to the task, highlighed by another powerful and eloquent floor speech by John McCain, who once again demonstrated the roll and place in which he is most valuable to the country, though probably also with an eye toward rebuilding the presidential ambitions he torched last month.

The cloture vote was held a little less than twelve hours ago, and it fell eight votes short (with Reid changing his vote to "nay" so that he can bring the bill back up at a later date), or precisely what the vote total was before the horizontal harangue Dirty Harry couldn't stay awake for.

So what was the point? As a stand-alone gesture, there wasn't one. The gimmick humiliated the Dems, aroused and unified the 'Pubbies, and can't have earned any brownie points with the left-wing extremist, Ameriphobic fever swamps. I could almost wonder if it wasn't intended to fail, since it was so easily and predictably stuffed.

As part of the Dems' longer-term campaign to build up their anti-war pitch toward General Petraeus' September "surge" deadline, it makes a bit more sense. The hammer & nail analogy applies in this instance. When you put a nail in your wall, you don't put the hammer head against the nail head and push; you hit the nail, bring the hammer back, bring it back down and hit it again, and so on until the nail is pounded into the wall. In this case, the "Snooze 'Till We Lose" extravaganza is just one more hammerblow. With Republicans staying unified this time, that puts more pressure on them to break and run in a couple of months if General Petraeus' report shows anything the tiniest bit short of complete, across-the-board success.

This night shift at the R&D B&B was a joke, but it's still the Democrats and their al Qaeda co-belligerents who may get the last laugh.