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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It’s Not All Good News for the GOP

posted by on September 10 at 9:53 AM

Take heart.

Sen. John Ensign says he has no interest in serving another term as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee…. In a year in which Republicans are widely expected to lose between three and seven seats in the Senate, Ensign has made himself a target by poor-mouthing the party’s prospects and bad-mouthing some other GOP senators for not doing more to help.

Ensign insists he’s just trying to be a “realist” about the problems facing his party. But Republican insiders say that Ensign’s pessimistic statements—he once said it would be a “good night” for Republicans if they lose just four Senate seats on Nov. 4—have made matters worse.

There are still three branches of government. Even if—and may God rip the fingers off my hands for typing this—John McCain should win this election, he will likely have to deal with larger, stronger, and, after the way he’s conducted this campaign, angrier Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. (So will you, Joe Lieberman.) John “Maverick” McCain has promised the religious right—the same folks that he condemned as “agents of intolerance” back in 2000—that, if elected, he will nominate more Alitos, Scalias, and Roberts to the Supreme Court. A stronger Democratic majority in the Senate, which has to approve nominees to the Supreme Court, is no guarantee that a President McCain (MGRTFOMHFTT) won’t be able to get his picks on the court, of course. But it is our second and only line of defense.

So in addition to throwing some of your money Obama’s way, pick a Democratic challenger running against Republican incumbent for a US Senate seat and send some money his or her way too. I gave some dough today to Al Franken (donate here), who is challenging GOP incumbent Norm Coleman for a Senate seat from Minnesota.

Who are you going to give to?

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I'm giving to the guy who plays violin outside the Trader Joe's in the U District.

Posted by dwight moody | September 10, 2008 9:56 AM


Posted by sepiolida | September 10, 2008 9:59 AM

I think the nation is always much better off with a divided government. It tend to have a moderating effect. Unified government always seems to go badly. No real checks or balances. I don't really care much who has which branch as long as one party does not have all branches. (And yes, I felt this way when the Republicans had the House and the Senate and the Presidency.)

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 10, 2008 10:01 AM

MGRTFOMHFTT = My God Rip The Fingers Off My Hands For Typing This. It's like PBUH—you know, a futile invocation of a fictional deity, etc.

Posted by Dan Savage | September 10, 2008 10:05 AM

Look, if the Democrats can't fight and win this presidential election, they will have proved once and for all that they won't have the gumption to resist McCain's Supreme Court nominations even if they are a Senate majority...

Posted by cracked | September 10, 2008 10:07 AM

What about the House, eh? Darcy Burner could use some money as well.

Posted by Greg | September 10, 2008 10:10 AM

Yeah, I am sure that a Democrat controlled Congress will really stand up to John McCain...yeah right. Just like Nancy Pelosi and Reed did to George Bush, yeah right.

Face it, John McCain will get two Supreme Court appointments at the very least, or probably Palin and the Democrats have demonstrated an inability to stand up for anything in Congress.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | September 10, 2008 10:20 AM

Color me Red, but I'm calling it a net gain for GOP in all branches.

Posted by John Bailo | September 10, 2008 10:31 AM

Thank god there's no god, Dan, or you'd be typing Savage Love with a pencil between your teeth.

Posted by me | September 10, 2008 10:35 AM

I still think Obama is going to make it, but I'm curious if Palin would try to fire Senators who don't approve her nominations were (godforbid) McCain to be elected and then die. It seems to be her general response to not getting her way.

Hmmm...methinks it's time to give Obama's campaign some more money.

Posted by beguine | September 10, 2008 10:44 AM

Thanks for including the donation link. Every hour, on the hour, if not as a closing remark for every "McCain/Palin's latest sleaze attack" post. I'm clicking on this one right now...

Posted by Lose-Lose | September 10, 2008 10:46 AM

Ok, I just gave $100 to Obama and I'm going to give some to Burner. All I can get through the family finance committee.

Posted by cracked | September 10, 2008 10:53 AM

coleman has wellstone's seat? i forgot, how the hell did THAT happen?

Posted by SeMe | September 10, 2008 10:54 AM


Not likely to happen.

Democrats will maintain control of congress with moderate gains. Good chance they could have a veto proof Senate. Though I think that is unlikely.

And with Al Franken headed for the Senate, things should be, at least, entertaining.

Harry and Nancey are going to have to start to lead. Someone should remind them that they control two thirds of the government...

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 10, 2008 10:56 AM

Obama gave a big middle fucking finger to me -- and the entirety of the progressive wing of the democratic party -- when he capitulated on FISA and other issues he championed when running against Clinton. He can go fuck himself if he wants money from me.

Posted by no money from me | September 10, 2008 10:58 AM


Smears. Smears, smears, smears, smears, and smears. And Coleman lied when he promised not to campaign right after Wellstone's death.

Thanks for the suggestion, Dan. I was going to give $200 to Obama, but now I think I'll split it between him and Franken. I want to see that shit-eating grin wiped off Coleman's face so bad.

Posted by keshmeshi | September 10, 2008 10:59 AM

There really is little evidence to support the idea that a larger Democratic contingency in Congress will do anything more than what the current Congress has done. This Congress has done absolutely nothing to slow the administration down. They have caved on every issue. I'm hopeful for 2009, but in 2 years they have demonstrated nothing other than the ability to provide Bush with whatever he wants (or more, as in the case of FISA).

Posted by sleestak | September 10, 2008 11:03 AM

@15 - You've got to get over that FISA vote. Yes, it burned, but there was nothing Obama could do to stop it. You don't get to be an ideological purist on the left in this country if you want to have anything but a right-wing hegemony for the rest of your life, that's just where this country is, sweetie.

Posted by David | September 10, 2008 11:03 AM

Dan, start a slog fundraising page on Obama's website: Then we could see how much money we're all giving! I've only given about $100 so far, but will send more next payday.

I'm considering giving a little to Mark Begich (, Alaska Democrat) because I think he has a chance. He's not great, but would be better than Stevens.

Posted by asteria | September 10, 2008 11:04 AM

@18 - Obama's vote on FISA should be excluded from consideration regarding who to vote for in the presidential race, but it's completely fair to hold a grudge against Obama for that. Yes, he could have done something. He could have spoke up. He was the de facto nominee at the time, and thus had the most access to the media. We simply don't know what would have happened if Obama had kept his word to oppose the bill. Again, unless you're voting for a 3rd party, it's perfectly fine to look past that and vote for Obama for president (since McCain is no better), but to say there was nothing he could do is just a guess on your part. He simply didn't try.

Posted by sleestak | September 10, 2008 11:08 AM


Well... He is about Change. Are you surprised he changed his positions?

Same thing pisses me off about McCain (who I REALLY wanted to win in 2000 but am so-so on now).

I really think that the only thing any politician is capable of changing is his own position for political purposes.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 10, 2008 11:09 AM

@21, I totally agree.

Look, to those of you who say people like me need to "get over this", understand why some of us progressive youth were attracted to Obama: Many of us interpreted his promise of "change" to be a promise of honesty, integrity, and rational decision-making processes. I'm not an ideologue, but when he changed positions on FISA he didn't offer the same kind of reasoned explanations for a switch -- he backed into the typical "this isn't the time for this fight" wording of politicians looking for a way to avoid taking a stand against a (even slim) majority.

He's playing a dangerous game by tacking to the center. Yes, he may be picking up more independents, but he is LOSING TONS of support from us college-age kids. No, we're not going to go out and vote for McCain, but what we see now has really un-enthused us from where we were in the primary. It's a huge mistake. It risks us not being motivated to go vote in the general, because we feel we were lied to, deceived, yet again, in the same way the president of the last 8 years has been deceiving the country.

PS -- I don't speak for anyone other than myself, yadda yadda, but there are plenty of youth who feel the same way. Take it for the .02 that it is.

Posted by Obama's mistake | September 10, 2008 11:26 AM

Let's not forget local politics; Gregoire is in a real fight to stay in the Governor's office.

One thing that has been brought home to me the last week - whether McSame wins or not (MGRTFOMHFTT) then I'm very glad to live in a state with progressive education policy, domestic partner benefits, etc. I don't want any of that going away or mitigated by Dino Rossi in office.

Posted by bohica | September 10, 2008 11:29 AM

@22 - Look, I actually agree with you. I was really angry at Obama for not doing more on FISA. But maybe you're too young to remember this, but the Democrats haven't really won the White House in 28 years (Clinton won with less than 50% because of Perot, and was crippled by the Gingrich congress).

This is the real America, which isn't as good as it ought to be. It will always disappoint. Politicians are politicians, and it's our responsibility to hold them accountable; but when you see election after election devolve into the kind of nonsense identity politics and character assassination we're seeing now, the right answer on FISA - crucial though it may be to democracy - is a remote dream compared to a party whose VP candidate just changed the game with a speech that got big applause for the line "they [the Democrats] are worried someone won't read the Terrorists their rights", which rejects Habeas Corpus, the very foundation of modern democracy - not begrudgingly out of political expediency, but gleefully, rubbing your face in it.

This is the party we're up against. As easy as it is to be disappointed in Obama's shortcomings, which do exist, we have to do everything possible to destroy the trend in our culture that glorifies and celebrates a campaign based on baldface lies and anti-democratic jingoism. Let's win the war first, then pick our battles.

Posted by David | September 10, 2008 12:01 PM

It's easy to deride Pelosi and Reid for "non-action", but the simple truth is, without a veto-proof majority in the Senate, there's not a heck of a lot Congress can do against an Executive Branch that's taken the notion of an "imperial presidency" to heights even Nixon could only dream of.

IF (and I admit that's a very BIG "if") the Dems can eke out a 60+ majority (and at this rate I think we have to count out Lieberman as part of that), THEN you've got a Congress that can actually achieve some legislative success. At that point "bipartisanship" becomes more than just a catch-phrase, because if the minority party wants to get ANY of their agenda on the table, they HAVE to work with the majority, and that includes the Executive. Anything short of 60 votes ensures the GOP can continue to play the role of obstructionists for whichever of their sockpuppets they manage to get installed in the White House, while they continue to blame the Dems for being "ineffectual".

Until that unassailable majority becomes a reality, the Executive Veto remains the trump card in the political deck of cards.

It's the reality of two-party politics, and until some viable third party comes on the scene (unlikely, given the entrenchment of our current system) to act as a fulcrum against the two opposing levers, this is the only option left to us.

Posted by COMTE | September 10, 2008 12:20 PM

@25 - Just because you don't have a veto-proof majority doesn't mean that you have to send bills to Bush exactly as he asked for them. Who cares if he vetoes bills? Then it's up to HIM to explain why he did it. If Congress had sent him the FISA bill that we wanted, Bush would have had to explain why he was in favor of expanding surveillance. As you may recall, the Bush administration was thrilled by the version of FISA that Congress sent them because it had more than the White House had even hoped for. The threat of veto excuse makes no sense in this situation.

Posted by sleestak | September 10, 2008 12:30 PM

I would also just add this: if Obama hadn't voted for the FISA bill, he could be using that to attack McCain with. "John McCain wants to listen to your phone calls, America". Even if the bill had passed. All Obama would have had to do was to vote against it. That could have been a fantastic issue for Obama. I cannot figure out why he passed on such an opportunity.

Posted by sleestak | September 10, 2008 12:35 PM


I'll grant you that on FISA, but that's just one of hundreds of bills that get passed back-and-forth between the branches on an annual basis.

I can understand the impulse to excoriate Reid and the other Democratic senators who voted for that particularly vile piece of legislation, but it's an exception, not the norm.

Posted by COMTE | September 10, 2008 12:44 PM

As a Canadian, is there a way for me to help out, or is that damn foreigners interfering with your politics?

Posted by Fe Man | September 10, 2008 1:18 PM

Reid and Pelosi have no defense for not making the Republicans come out and ACTUALLY FILIBUSTER, not just threaten to. In the entire time since the midterm elections, how many instances of actual filibusters by the Republicans have there been? Hmm?

Posted by Greg | September 10, 2008 2:07 PM

I'm giving to Gregoire. Rossi can't win, and he's not as far behind as he should be.

Gotta focus on my own backyard sometimes.

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