Monday, May 23, 2005

It's a moderate start

Good news--I think.

Apparently, according to the Boston Globe, there is a middle-of-the-road coalition being formed in the Senate, and it has some chance of tempering the polarization there. Could this be the start of something big?

An excerpt from the article:

The group of about 15 senators has been quietly forging a compromise even as their more partisan colleagues bludgeon each other daily on the Senate floor. They comprise at least six members of each party, the current margin of power in the Senate, and thus could decide any vote that falls along party lines.

Close Senate observers say the coalition's work could shift power from the majority and minority leaders and revitalize the political middle, with moderates who have found themselves out of the mainstream of their own parties enjoying heightened influence on major legislation.

If they are able to work productively together on other issues, their influence could expand, with the docket including such contentious issues as Social Security, stem cell research, reauthorization of the Patriot Act, and John Bolton's nomination to be ambassador to the United Nations.

Here are the names of some of the Senators involved:

The Democrats include the longest-serving senator, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, and one of the newest, freshman Ken Salazar of Colorado. They are joined by Democratic centrists, such as Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

Those on the Republican side include such moderates as Lincoln D. Chafee of Rhode Island and Susan M. Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, as well as independent-minded conservatives, such as John W. Warner of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona, and Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina.

I don't know about you, but I like the sound of this development.


At 12:24 PM, May 23, 2005, Blogger WichitaBoy said...

What's "moderate" about a KKKer who endeavored to preclude Condi Rice from her current job, evidently because of her race?

I'm afraid I don't believe in the vaunted "middle of the road". What's the "moderate" position on abortion? What's the "moderate" position on the war? Rather, this seems to me to be a way that people who find themselves in sync with neither party hope to join others of like mind. That's fine, but let's not pretend that we're "moderate" (i.e., rational) and they're not.

At 12:42 PM, May 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I definitely agree about Byrd! Gave me a chill (and a surprise) to see his name there.

There's no question that not all these people are moderate on all issues. Nor are they themselves necessarily "moderates." (I can think of a moderate position on abortion, by the way--leave it to the individual states--although some would disagree with my designation of that position as "moderate").

But in this case they have banded together to represent a "moderate" position, in an attempt to break an extremely polarized stalemate, and to reintroduce the idea of compromise. I think that is potentially a very good thing. See this quote from the article, for example:

The mere existence of the meetings has aroused hope for a new era in the Senate, with a revitalized center as well as Democrats and Republicans who are willing to ignore partisan directives and interest-group pressures when they feel it is warranted. The moderate senators involved -- largely Republicans from the North and Democrats from the South, each out of step with their own parties to some degree -- want to bring back across-the-aisle cooperation.

If it's just rhetoric, I suppose we'll find out soon enough.

At 1:12 PM, May 23, 2005, Blogger goesh said...

They could have done better than Byrd, that's for sure, but Conrad of N. Dakota is a darn good man - common sense, clean record, experienced,willing to compromise, etc. I think this is a good start and I hope something productive developes from it.

At 5:03 PM, May 23, 2005, Blogger Huan said...

i'd rather have a group that pushes an agenda based on held ideologies, even ones i disagree with, than a group that intends to broker power, which is what this will lead to.

At 8:14 PM, May 23, 2005, Blogger jj mollo said...

I think it's great news. If you can't rule by consensus, then rule from the middle. I have my doubts that they can pull it off, however. My ideal ticket would have been McCain/Lieberman, but both those guys got schredded in the primaries.

At 8:43 PM, May 23, 2005, Blogger TmjUtah said...

Huan wrote the first part of my post.

I'll just add that it was the moderate McCain who coauthored the worst direct attack on freedom of speech to ever sneak onto the floor of congress, and has now become the law of the land after failures on the part of the executive and judicial branches.

This isn't moderation. It's dereliction. And it sucks.

The democrats are finally playing the victim card by flapping the "rights of the minority" non-sequiter.

They are a minority because the majority of Americans think they've done enough damage, thank you very much.

I hope Bush floods the judiciary committee. Let's just see what "special cases" means to the moderate democrats and their publiciity - seeking moderate republican friends.

At 9:28 PM, May 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


This is funny, I consider you like me to be no hard right winger and certainly not a person of extreme temperament and then I read your comment... BOOM! Correct me if I am wrong, but are you implying that moderation absent the support of any value or principle is just not really that profound, no act of great honor, and certainly not worth bragging about? If so I agree. To me this is akin to an appeaser waving the white flag of truce as if it were some flag of bravery, didn't a man name Neville do that once? I'm sure Czechoslovakia remembers.

I am against ending the filibuster, but not for the reasons Democrats put forth. I believe the Republicans ought to make the Democrats filibuster and then filibuster, and then filibuster, because I guarantee the Democrats would lose. That would be principled to me, each person take a stand and defend your position for this is a very black and white issue. I do believe in the end the public would side with the President. Didn't Pricilla Owens just uphold parental notification as her major sin? Last I heard 80% of the public agrees with that.


In my opinion there is no such thing as a principled person holding principled moderate beliefs. Now there is of course such thing as moderate behavior, a different thing altogether and something we should all endeavor to incorporate. Moderation is more a principle of behavior, not belief. I don't mean to pick because I am a consensus builder by nature however...

But in this case they have banded together to represent a "moderate" position, in an attempt to break an extremely polarized stalemate, and to reintroduce the idea of compromise. I think that is potentially a very good thing.

Reintroduce the idea of compromise? Well I guess appeasing a cross-sectioned constituency might be a good thing, seems self-serving to me and maybe averting red faced bellowing Senators might also be a good thing, but this does little to address or answer the debate at hand. I am 100% with Mickey Kaus on this one... they just kicked the can down the road. Where or what is the principle in that? The only principle served was the art of temporarily changing the subject, not a very high art, but it is actually worse.

Trust me, nothing has been solved or averted, only delayed and delayed at a great price. It is said that justice delayed is justice denied. I see two sacrificial lambs with impeccable ABA ratings being washed and prepared for slaughter over this wonderful compromise. Are their aspirations and careers worth the price of our temporary peace? But hey, if we fell good about it... right? Where does this compromise ultimately lead to? Right back to where we are today! The only difference betwen now and then is simply two careers will have been sacrificed, but hey they are only people and what are their aspirations to any of us? Would two of the Senators purchasing peace for the price of their hides replace them with their own? Would you or I trade in our careers in for such? I doubt it. But damn aren't those moderates principled! They say it isn't good to be a moderate because it is akin to being in the middle of the road, a place where people can get run over. The funny thing is it seems it's not the moderates who get run over, but those that moderates lead thereto.


Read your post while previewing, I obviously agree 100%.

At 10:10 PM, May 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I do consider myself a moderate on many things, and I do consider myself a principled person nonetheless. I was applauding the idea of compromise as opposed to stalemated polarization, rather than the exact details of this particular deal.

I have read that the Senate used to be a place of greater collegiality than it has been in recent years, where members of opposite parties could still be friends, and there was more crossing of party lines for principle than there is now. Maybe that's a fantasy of what used to be, rather than the reality. And perhaps this group represents nothing even remotely like that. But that's the type of thing I was thinking about when I expressed an interest in moderation and compromise.

At 11:50 PM, May 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read that the Senate used to be a place of greater collegiality than it has been in recent years

You know the above is very true, though like most memories it is somewhat romanticized. What has happened in politics is really just a natural progression that has less to do with culture and but more to do with regional political realigning. The bottom line is a "finger in the dyke compromise" does nothing to change this, I think it makes it worse as it has given undue courage to a minority, increased a more dug in resolve to the majority, and meanwhile an middle based upon unprincipled appeasement can't hold. This is done with all the principle Senator Voinavich applied in the John Bolton hearings... yuck! I do believe we will someday reach a tipping point where things will break for the better, but until then I do believe nastness will prevail.

My take on of this is that we are still adjusting to regional realignments precipitated by Reagan, slowed down by Clinton centrism and the end of the Cold War, but then accelerated by impeachment and further hastened by 911. Before all this in the 1980's Reagan didn't get all he wanted, but he did get much and Democrats held a huge majority in the house. What we had then was a huge "Dixiecrat" delegation that supported not only Reagan, but also Nixon in the pre-Watergate days and these people kept liberals in check on much. We also had a counter delegation of Rockefeller Republicans in the Northeast, hawkish on Security issues but liberal on Civil Rights and other issues, they were more deficit hawks then tax-cutters. The problem (if one wishes to view it as a problem), is that most Dixiecrats became Republicans, and many Rockefeller types became Democrats. This resulted in the polarization that we have today, nature taking its course if you will. Neo-neocon, the funny thing is we are part of 9-11 end of that very same re-alignment, one Democrats have been getting the short end of the stick. Think of the negative reaction of many of our friends, family whatever, did you or I purposefully do anything wrong? I don't think so! The world is changing too fast and those on the losing end don't like it and those on the winning side are losing patience.

The real point is when society finally gives one Party a clearer mandate, it will start to ease the polarization. I am one who believes that society already has given a clear mandate but the left isn't listening. If Dubya and the Republicans gain seats in his last midterm election (the third time in a row) it will be the first time this has ever happened. How clearer of a mandate can we have? I will further add that if as I predict more minorities and younger African Americans jump Parties over the next decade (while isolationist libertarians may desert Republicans), Democrats will learn to bring not just opposition to the table but ideas, and Republicans will seek to keep a new broader constituency happy. That is a good kind of moderation, what we witnessed today is as counterfeit as campaign finance and has solved absolutely nothing though it did boost the egos of a few moderates.

At 12:17 AM, May 24, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I do consider myself a moderate on many things, and I do consider myself a principled person nonetheless.

Neo-neocon, the above makes perfect sense and also supports my point. Moderate on many things yet nonetheless principled? I am moderate on things for two reasons, one is when it isn't worth the fight (Abortion), or two when I really don't have strong feelings about an issue (Religion). My defense of religion is due to my sense that it is important to others and our culture. My avoidance of the abortion debate is it personally isn't worth the fight, even though I personally loathe the use of Abortion as birth control. I would say on the first I am a principled moderate, on the second I am a appeasing moderate short on principle other then personal comfort. There is too much of the second aspect in this compromise, maybe not with all, but certainly a majority.

The real point is what if I felt the same way on abortion that I felt about the WOT and genocide? Could I stay a moderate? A person that can hold moderate positions on too many issues I would assume to be greatly lacking core values, though in the realm of personal behavior, temperance and moderation is indeed a virtue.

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