27 March, 2013


I have received a mailout from the Boston Globe asking me to comment on one of their articles ("A lesson for Bob Dole: old rules no longer apply" by Michael Kranish). I am not quite sure why I deserved that honor but I do indeed have something to say about the article concerned.

The article claims, rightly I think, that Congress has become intractably polarized. It goes on to give an example. It says that the Senate recently refused to ratify an international treaty giving rights to the disabled. All the votes against were cast by Republicans. A two thirds majority is needed to ratify treaties.

The article portrays the GOP opposition to ratification as irrational. It was not. Once ratified, a treaty becomes legally binding. And once you've got a law it is in the hands of the courts. And it is an old, old, strategy in America to get the courts to impose what no legislature would.

If America's legal system were simply judicial and not political it might have been reasonable to give the courts a new set of rights to chew on but America's courts are an abomination right from the Supreme Court down. SCOTUS has "found" rights in the constitution that are not even mentioned there (a right to abortion) and denied rights that are explicitly set out in the constitution (allowed "affirmative action" despite the 14th amendment requirement for equal treatment). The GOP senators were right to be leery.

A bigger question, however, is why there is little or no bipartisanship in Congress these days. The article I am discussing is persuasive that in the not too distant past there was substantial bipartisanship.

I think much of the fault lies with Obama and his Senate henchman, Harry Reid. Obama came to power floating on a promise of bipartisanship and "reaching across the aisle". It was soft-soap. He has done the opposite. His idea of compromise is getting people to agree with him. The GOP have got nothing from him.

And Obamacare exemplifies the Reid/Obama axis of intransigence. They got that legislation though without a single Replublican vote and by way of gigantic arm-twisting of their own congressmen. The small group of anti-abortion Democrats that stood in the way were bought off by a meaningless promise from Obama that has been breached virtually from the get-go. The fear that Obamacare would affect the rights of abortion opponents has been amply justified, with a ruling that church bodies and others must pay for health insurance that includes a right to abortion. Catholics are particularly affected and are in court trying to get the ruling overturned.

So when the Donk establishment will go to any length to get its way, they have got to expect the GOP to dig in its heels too. It takes two to tango.

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