McCain saves the Palm

kausfile:

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McCain Saves The Palm: From today's NYT report on the bipartisan filibuster-saving compromise signed by 14 senators, including John McCain:

Mr. McCain said he expected that interest groups on both the left and right would be angry at the compromise.

"Think of all the money they are going to lose," he said, ducking into a car to head to the premiere of a film about his life, referring to the fund-raising operations that had sprung up around the judicial battle. [Emph. added]

Hmmm. As long as we're being appropriately cynical and looking for the underlying selfish motives of various parties in the "nuclear" debate, it's worth asking if Senator McCain and his band of self-glorifying depolarizers are really just brave statesmen who, unlike their critics, "managed to put principle above self-protection," in a Washington Post editorial's adoring words.

Why, after all, are so many people in Washington attached to the Senate's "right to unlimited debate"? Is it because the filibuster--which effectively requires a supermajority to pass anything through the Senate-- guarantees "freedom of speech, freedom of debate and freedom to dissent in the United States Senate." (Sen. Byrd's modest version.) Or is it because the filibuster, and the exaggerated power it gives to both minorities and individuals, is the basis for much of the Senate's--indeed Washington's--corrupt cash economy? Without the filibuster, after all, senators in the minority party wouldn't be nearly as big a deal. They couldn't block legislation--so lobbyists wouldn't need to bribe them with campaign contributions. And honest, self-protective corporations wouldn't have to pay so many of these lobbyists to bribe them with campaign contributions.

Even most majority party senators would see some of their power drain away if the Senate became more like the House, organized efficiently along party lines so the majority could exercise its non-filibusterable power. Individual majority senators would be less like princes to be wined, dined and fawned over and more like party backbenchers. Corporations and interest groups wouldn't need to spend a lot of money bribing them either. And why would Boeing and GM want to pay for an army of ex-Senate aides to sweet-talk all 55 Republicans when one aide with the ear of Bill Frist would get the job done? ...

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