Friday, March 09, 2007

NJ GOP Runs From Iraq Vote--Are OR Republicans Cowards?

The good news is that the New Jersey Assembly passed an anti-escalation resolution 43-0. The bad news, if you're a Republican with a conscience or someone who likes an actual democratic process, is that not a single Republican member of the Assembly dared even cast an ABSTENTION on the question of escalation. Not one. As Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid have now put it while baiting Mitch McConnell, at some point you have to choose between the President and your constituency, between politics and the greater good of the society and its people. New Jersey's Republicans couldn't hack. It's not like it isn't an important, relevant question to the people of New Jersey; their Guard ranks are as depleted and victimized as ours. There's a parliamentary term of art for the kind of maneuver they pulled: gutless.

Right now, Oregon's Republicans are engaged in a similar dance: on the Senate side they're simply not showing up, even just to hear a rainy day bill get its first reading. Over in the House, it took until yesterday for Wayne Scott to quell renegade Republicans who threatened to bust open the deal Wayne Scott agreed to in a moment of sensible delusion--but only after jettisoning the most egregious parts of the package in order to succor at the cold teat of the big business concerns that pay their way. Scott is now a weakling to his allies, and a welching fraud to his opponents. How the mighty have fallen!

As Carla noted, Ted Ferrioli's conspicuous absence at the "breakthrough" press conference a few days ago has now manifested itself as the primary spur to any legislative progress on RDF legislation and particularly corporate tax reform. He appears (or claims) to have a much tighter hold on his caucus; there is said to be not one Republican daring to cross the line and create a 2/3 majority. He may be wrong, he may be on the wrong side of a clear majority of Oregonians...but he's got Merkley thinking about which way to go next. My advice: you've got the nuke option--referral--in your back pocket. Make Ferrioli and his band of 11 all vote against it, then pass the referral and hold Republicans accountable.

So forgive me if I directly call out our friends in the legislature who hew to the Republican party brand: are you seriously going to default on this debate, out of sheer cowardice that your position will fail and a needed process gets started despite you? How can that feel good to you? You look obstructionist because you're obstructing. And you're standing up for a group who has seen their taxes shrink dramatically relative to individuals in this state, individuals who outnumber their corporate "citizen" neighbors by orders of magnitude. Where on earth are your priorities?

One tangential thing I'm wondering. If Republicans decide they can excuse themselves from sessions and votes they don't want to appear at, there's no reason they can't excuse themselves for the far more valid reason of conflict of interest. I expect Larry George and his father to bow out of Measure 37 votes in that case, since their party is saying that not showing up for work--even to debate or negotiate--is an OK strategy.

Members of both chambers will get the opportunity next week to vote on bills very similar to New Jersey's, rejecting escalation and calling for a tight timeline to begin withdrawal. Both bills are expected to pass. The question, given Jersey's precedent and the recent behavior by our own GOP, is whether our Republicans will even have the stones to show up and back the President's failed catastrophe of a clusterfucking disaster like the leaders they're supposed to be. Whoever can't even be bothered to vote on the lives of our military residents and their families--what else can you call it but sheer cowardice? We'll be watching, and we'll be expecting better. The war cannot fail to be an issue in 2008, and its effects will permeate to all levels of government, among all who backed failure and called for more.