NYET….A friend of mine emailed this morning to ask a question:
So, let me get this straight: When the Democrats are the minority in the Senate, the Republicans get their way, and when the Democrats are the majority in the Senate, the Republicans get their way.
That’s about the size of it. Today’s New York Times explains Mitch McConnell’s “nyet” strategy for making sure that nothing gets done:
Mr. McConnell and his fellow Republicans are playing such tight defense, blocking nearly every bill proposed by the slim Democratic majority that they are increasingly able to dictate what they want, much to the dismay of the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, and frustrated Democrats in the House.
In fact, the Senate Republicans are so accustomed to blocking measures that when the Democrats finally agreed last week to their demands on a bill to repair the alternative minimum tax, the Republicans still objected, briefly blocking the version of the bill that they wanted before scrambling to approve it later.
Italics mine. It’s hard to say anything about this other than the obvious: the Democrats have a very slim majority; the rules of the Senate work against them; and the Republican Party, even as it prepares to shuffle into what may well be a decade of irrelevance, continues to display a genuinely remarkable ancien régime ability to stick together and insist that nothing is wrong until its collective face turns blue. Even the fact that the entire country may well turn blue next November as a result doesn’t dissuade them.
What bugs me about this is not the fact that the modern Republican Party doesn’t really care about actual governance. This is hardly news. At this point, it’s an exhausted organization so bereft of ideas that it really doesn’t have much choice except to follow a policy of obstruction to its logical, nihilistic conclusion.
But why does the media have to play along? It’s nice that the Times ran this story, but it would be nicer if the media simply reported what was happening on a regular basis. I’m not asking for special treatment, just headlines that tell us what’s really going on. If Republicans have adopted a strategy of simply blocking every piece of legislation that makes it to the floor of the Senate — and everyone agrees that they have — then we should be regularly seeing headlines that say “Republicans Block ______ ” There’s nothing partisan about this, it’s just a description of what’s happening. If Democrats block things, they can say that too. But unless the press reports this stuff accurately on a regular basis, the public simply has no idea why nothing is getting done.
Which, of course, is exactly what congressional Republicans are counting on. So why help them out so transparently?