Saturday, May 28, 2005

World-Herald Stands Against Decency

by Kyle Michaelis
In a stunningly idiotic editorial Friday, the Omaha World-Herald had the audacity to suggest that the 14 Senators who came together earlier this week to avert the "Nuclear Option" that would have devastated the operation of the U.S. government were actually doing a disservice to their country. Why? Because, in the OWH's perverted conception of democracy - that of the lowest expectations imaginable - these Senators were actually obligated to be nothing more than party hacks and yes-men and had no right to stand in their own name for the common good. Read for yourself:
How does country benefit when 14 senators take control of party business?

Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, one of the 14 U.S. senators whose agreement led to votes on three of President Bush's stalled judicial nominees, has written that he and his 13 cohorts put partisan politics aside for the good of the country....

Whether, indeed, the good of the country was served at all by the seven Republicans and seven Democrats is highly debatable. By denying their respective parties the votes to pursue announced positions, the 14 in effect seized control of a portion of the judicial-confirmation process, substituting their arbitrariness for the ordinary working of Senate procedures.

What evil did they prevent? How was this action for the greater good of the country?

Certainly the confirmation or nonconfirmation of a few circuit court judges has no significant bearing on the condition of the country. These are petty political fights best handled via the political process.

Yes, a possible showdown was averted on the Republican plan to eliminate the filibuster as a potential weapon in judicial confrontations. But how is averting (or, perhaps more accurately, delaying) a showdown good for the country? It's a legitimate question; it deserved a legitimate hearing.

The Republicans hold 55 of the 100 Senate seats, leaving the Democrats enough votes to block the majority with a filibuster. So why not play it out?

Let the Republicans seek their filibuster change and reap whatever public acclaim or criticism might result. Let the Democrats follow through on their petulant threat to stall the Senate's machinery in retaliation. See how well that plays in the court of public opinion.

That's the way democracy works. Take the responsibility and bear the consequences.

The interference of the 14 senators freed the party leadership of accountability, at least for the moment. It didn't in any way ameliorate the poisonous partisanship; it merely created a new kind of minority rule, making the Senate look something like the Italian parliament with its multiplicity of factions....

A recent editorial expressed the hope that Nebraska's two moderate senators, Nelson of the Democrats and Chuck Hagel of the Republicans, could be instrumental in bringing about a reasonable way of avoiding the confrontation.

Maybe it was overly optimistic to think that a reasonable solution existed. Now that we have seen what passes for one, the good of the country seems easier to discern: Let this new creature get out of the way and let the political process take its course, with all the public accountability that implies.
For starters, when did the health and functioning of our democracy become nothing more than party business? How cynical and contemptible. In fact, what a pathetic exercise this entire editorial is for justifying the paper's unhappiness with an end result. That they suddenly romanticize partisan warfare in this fashion, subverting the common good in the name of letting easily manipulated public opinion have its say, is simply absurd.

In this editorial, the World-Herald is literally claiming that a game of chicken is more democratic than compromise. Huh? No wonder Nebraska is so starved for progress and leadership when it's largest newspaper is this extreme and blinded by its own self-serving agenda. How they would love a Senate of black and white hats that they could alternately glorify and demonize while calling on both to act more civil. How hollow this pleading must be when so obvious a victory for America's prevailing moderate majority is attacked for daring to tamper with the "us vs. them" politics they've been shoving down the peoples' throats for decades.


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