You may have noticed over the last few days that I failed to hop on the “filibuster Alito” bandwagon this weekend. Oh, I’ve blogged about his nomination, etc. But in the past week or so, the moderate head of steam I’d worked up pretty much fizzled out. There are a couple of reasons for that. I had two questions to which I never heard an answer in all the discussion of filibuster: Is there any real hope of keeping Alito off the Court? And if not, what does victory look like in this situation?
I still don’t have answers for either of those questions. But there’s another reason, based on a lesson I learned a long, long time ago: don’t let somebody talk you into a fight if you don’t think they have “got your back.” Because, chances are they will abandon you in the end and all you’ll get is a well-whipped ass. Afterwards, they’ll pat you on the back and say “Oh well, we tried.” But it’s still your ass that got beat.
So, when the battle call sounded over the weekend (yeah, there’s an organized campaign for ya), I surveyed the battle field and determined that nobody “had my back,” and decided to keep my ass intact. Turns out I was right. Progressive bloggers were called to into a fight when, in reality, almost nobody had our back.
It wasn’t even close. Seventy-two senators voted to invoke cloture, and thus sealed the fate of President Bush’s nominee Samuel Alito: a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
Alito will like be confirmed by a similar margin in Tuesday’s confirmation vote, where only a simple majority of 51 senators is necessary.
… It was a surprise to many that only 25 Senators voted against cloture. As of Sunday, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin told the press he had 37 of the 41 votes necessary to support a filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.
… By the late weekend, Democrats who had come to view an Alito nomination as a done deal eventually — and grudgingly — said they would support a filibuster, even as they publicly stated a filibuster would never work.
And it wasn’t just Senate Democrats, as John points out over at AmericaBlog.
it is bad politics, and dangerous, to launch a filibuster if you do not have a campaign in place to get the votes you need, and equally important, if you do not have a separate public relations/grassroots campaign in place to get public opinion on your side.
And then there’s Matt at MyDD.
This last-minute campaign to get Senators to switch their votes, after it became crystal clear that we do not have the votes to filibuster, is a classic example of ‘get points for trying’ politics. It’s a way for Senators to get credit from the left-wing of the party without having to actually do anything or stop anything. The reality is that this fight was lost two months ago, when Senators decided that going on Christmas break was more important than preparing to defend the constitution, and PFAW and Alliance for Justice decided that releasing 150 page documents was a good way to build public pressure against Alito’s confirmation.
As always, the essential question to ask before entering any fight is “Who’s got my back?” If the answer is something close to “nobody,” including the folks urging you to fight in the first place, remember who did have your back and who talked you into an ass whupping and fight they never had any intention of winning. Remember that last group, most definitely. They may need their asses whupped in the future.
For what it’s worth, I’m relieved that at least my Senators (Mikulski and Sarbanes) did the right thing on the cloture vote. But I’m at a loss when it comes to the Dems as a party at the moment. Between giving Alito a walk to the bench, and bringing on Tim Kaine to respond to the SOTU address (see my previous post about him), I’m increasingly convinced that they ain’t got my back. Or, as pessimist indicates, they’re just no longer up to the job.
It is clear that there is no national organization of any kind that is in position to lead an opposition to Bu$hCo even though one is needed desperately.
… There may well be such an organization that you know of that can be built up to take the position once occupied by the Democratic Party.
So, henceforth I’ll probably continue to support individual Dems like those who voted for cloture, the party is gonna hafta show me it’s about something before I join any hastily arrange charges.
The truth may well be that I just don’t have a party anymore.