It has been observed that we are living in a time of asymmetrical warfare. In this country we seem to be afflicted with asymmetrical politics. Witness the reaction to the unsuccessful attempt to blow up an aircraft, about which Obama appears to have gotten no warning, to the reaction to 9/11, about which Bush was warned, if only in a general way.
Bush and his partisans immediately turned the situation to his own advantage, and literally commanded the Democrats not only to keep their mouths shut, but to not investigate the events leading up to the successful (from the terrorists point of view) attack. Obama has settled comfortably into the typical Democratic defensive crouch.
This is particularly galling because the attack presents the perfect opportunity to merge good policy and good politics. There is currently no head of the Transportation Security Administration. For why? Because like almost all of Obama’s appointments, his nominee is being held up by a hold placed by a single Senator, in this case, Jim Demint. This is a perfect opportunity for the Democrats, including the Obama administration, to focus attention on a practice that is causing immense harm to the country, putting aside what it is doing to the American system of government. We can’t blame the media for this. It’s up to the Democrats to make it an issue, but of course they won’t. Wouldn’t want to be un-collegial, would we Chris?
Speaking of asymmetries, another by-product of successful Republican obstruction is the ineluctable drift of the federal judiciary to the right. It works like this. When a Republican is in office he appoints hard right judges. Some get knocked out, but the Republicans jump up and down about Democratic obstructionism, when it happens at all, and most of them get through. When Democrats get in, Republican serve notice that they will stop any liberal judge from being confirmed. The Democrats then obediently nominate “moderates”, who the Republicans call liberal anyway and obstruct. Eventually some get through, but the center of ideological gravity on the bench is barely affected. When the Republicans get back in, they quickly change their tune on obstruction, pay no price for it, and get their judges. This is yet another reason to ditch the filibuster, since only the Republicans benefit. If things continue as they are, Obama’s successor (even if Obama is reelected) will inherit huge numbers of vacancies. I would give slim odds at Obama having a Democratic successor, so that means yet more right wing appointments. This by the way, is in a Senate with an alleged filibuster proof majority, on an issue about which even Lieberman might feel ashamed to engage in his usual rank hypocrisy.
If this keeps up we may see a time when the Republicans are able to overturn even the pallid programs the Democrats manage to pass, by getting them declared unconstitutional by ideological judges.