Thursday, June 29, 2006
In praise of three Republican Senators
It's rare that you'll find praise here for a U.S. Senator, and even rarer when that praise is directed toward a group of Republicans, but the time has come.
The latest cynical grandstanding by the Republicans was the Senate vote on the Flag-Burning Amendment. As a Constitutional amendment, 2/3 of the Senate would have to approve it. It failed by one vote, as planned. As Gail Chaddock noted,
If every current senator who voted for a flag amendment in the past had done so this week, a constitutional amendment authorizing the Congress to ban desecration of the flag would be on its way to the states for ratification.
It was never intended to pass. Republicans brought up the amendment (1) to keep the country's business out of the news, (2) to demonstrate to their base of flag-waving Christian bigots that they really are giving fascism their best shot, and (3) to provide "ammunition" against any Democrat who voted against it.
Democrats for their part apportioned out the right to vote for the amendment to Red State Democrats who might be hurt by a "No" vote. Todd Haskins of The Blue State blog pointed out this report from Andy Sullivan of Reuters—
Democrats, even those who supported the flag-burning amendment, said Republicans were pandering to conservative voters ahead of November's elections when they should have been tackling more substantive problems.
Haskins felt they shouldn't have voted for it if they thought it was pandering.
But in reality this was an exercise in pure political theater. It is doubtful that many Republican Senators believe in this amendment—with the possible exception of the demented Senator from Kentucky, Jim Bunning, who wants the NY Times tried for treason. So the Democrats who voted with the Republicans may deserve a tut-tut of condemnation, but the truth is it didn't matter.
The only votes that stand out in this whole sorry spectacle were those of the three Republican dissenters—
- Sen. Bob Bennett, Utah
- Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island
- Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky
Senators Bennett and McConnell are from two of the reddest states in the Union, and Senator Chafee is up for re-election this year. All three deserve a kind word.