PUTTING COUNTRY BEFORE PARTY, OUT OF EITHER PATRIOTISM OR SELF-HATE
Talking Points Memo reports:
...According to Democratic sources in the Senate, Republicans were pressuring Bunning behind the scenes to relent on his filibuster -- even as many Republicans seemed uninterested in saying so publicly. But Bunning's relationship with his party isn't exactly rosy, so the Republican appeals had no effect.
In the end, the Democrats ended the standoff by promising Bunning votes they say he knows he will lose: first came his amendment to the unemployment bill, which failed last night. There's more coming, say Democratic sources -- the party agreed to allow more of his legislation to reach the floor, even though everyone knows the bills are doomed to fail....
That was a good thing to do for the country. But if Republicans really felt vulnerable, I can't help wondering if Democrats demanded any concessions whatsoever in return for helping them out of a jam. Maybe on health care? Or Obama appointees? Or financial reform, or jobs?
What do you think? I see no evidence of that.
Instead, Democrats made concessions to Bunning. Yes, if I understand correctly (see, e.g., Chris Hayes on Rachel Maddow's show last night), Dems did play a bit of hardball, refusing Bunning's demand for three votes before the vote on the unemployment extension, and declaring to Roll Call that they were willing to keep the Senate operating all night to wear Bunning down.
But if they were going to break Bunning's stranglehold one way or another, why not get something out of the Republicans in return for sparing them the embarrassment of the all-nighter? Why not say, "Gosh, love to help you. What's it worth to you?"
Was the apparent failure to do so a matter of patriotism -- or a constitutional, party-wide inability to fight aggressively for their own side? I think I know the answer.