Dems Lose: GOP Blocks No-Confidence Vote on Gonzo

Thereby successfully obstructing from the minority position a symbolic motion by the majority Democrats.

The 53-38 vote to move the resolution to full debate fell seven short of the 60 required on Monday. In bringing the matter up, Democrats dared Republicans to vote their true feelings about an attorney general who has alienated even the White House’s strongest defenders by bungling the firings of federal prosecutors and claiming not to recall the details.

Republicans did not defend him, but most voted against moving the resolution ahead.

Wow. That’s a pretty spectacular fucking backfire. Not only did the Democrats fail to come up with their symbolic vote of no-confidence on Gonzo, they failed further to force the GOP into even going on the record about Gonzo, since all they had to do was vote against taking the vote in the first place. That leaves Republicans with the option of saying, in future, that they had personally lost faith in Gonzo, but didn’t feel it was a matter for the Congress or didn’t see the point of a symbolic gesture or wev. In other words, the Dems handed them the perfect shield behind which to hide their typical unwillingness to do the right thing. That result, by the way, was something that could be seen coming from ten miles away, so I’ve no fucking clue why on earth the Democrats went ahead with this sad maneuver.

Unless their real plan was to reinforce the perception that the GOP can outplay them at politics even from the minority position—in which case, success!

To wit, see Trent Lott do exactly what I predicted Republicans would do:

“He deserves to be fired,” said Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Whatever Gonzales may or may not deserve, some Republicans said, it’s not the Senate’s job to hold forth on a member of the president’s Cabinet.

“This is a nonbinding, irrelevant resolution proving what? Nothing,” said Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. “Maybe we should be considering a vote of no confidence on the Senate or on the Congress for malfunction and an inability to produce anything.”

And with that, the GOP officially redirected its well-earned “Do-Nothing Congress” moniker back at the Dems.

Meanwhile, Harry Reid’s favorable rating has fallen to 19%. And, while I don’t think he’s as dreadful as that number suggests, I’m not thrilled with him at the moment. It was completely foolish (and detrimental to the Dems) to go ahead with this no-confidence horseshit when he hadn’t secured the 60 votes he needed to get to the point where he could force Republicans on the record. Moving forward without them was a big fumble. It has undermined the emergent meme that even the Republicans are sick of Gonzo, and that inevitably helps Gonzo—not to mention his stupid boss, with whom the Grand Old Party is in lockstep once again, despite his being the lamest of lame ducks.

Thanks for the boost, Dems!

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23 Comments

Filed under 01_shakespeares_sister

23 responses to “Dems Lose: GOP Blocks No-Confidence Vote on Gonzo

  1. I had a bad feeling about this resolution from the beginning; a “no-confidence” vote sounds like petulance, and it’s handing the righties a stick with which to hammer the point home that all the Dems want to do is beat up on the GOP — while they use that stick beat up on the Dems.

  2. This solidifies my long-felt inkling of a feeling that at the highest levels of gov’t, dems and repubs are all the same.

  3. I agree. Moving forward without having sixty votes in hand was foolish. At the same time, filibustering to save the skin of a corrupt AG doesn’t look so good either.

  4. Susan

    John:

    At the same time, filibustering to save the skin of a corrupt AG doesn’t look so good either.

    I think that might have been the image the Dems wanted planted in the public’s mind, and the MSM certainly helped with that; in the LA Times’ coverage, the message was, “Most Republicans close ranks behind the attorney general.” I sure wouldn’t want to be seen on Gonzo’s side in any way.

  5. It also seems the vote was a few weeks too late. There was a moment there when fire-gonzo-fever was peaking and that moment came and went as fast as the American attention span.

  6. It’s yet another mark against Lieberman, too. He voted with the Republicans to continue the filibuster. I’m not sure it’s bad political theater — it definitely got the subject of “Gonzales needs to go now” into the national news.

  7. Melissa McEwan

    it definitely got the subject of “Gonzales needs to go now” into the national news

    That already was in the news (and, as Creature correctly points out, it was a bigger headline a few weeks ago). What this bit of political theater added to that meme was “…but the Democrats can’t get it done.”

  8. They’re not going to be able to do anything really meaningful with such a slim majority in the Senate. At least this way they can claim to have tried to get some real work done and were blocked by an obstructionist Republican minority. The Republicans liked to do the same thing when they had the majority.

    Not that the Democratic Congressional leadership doesn’t need some scoliosis surgery, like fast. They do, and I’d like to see the Republicans have to shoot down some popular legislation over the next year or so.

  9. I don’t know. We’re set up to know what “cloture” means, and some of the other ins and outs of Senate procedure. I think that the general population will just see the Democrats trying to take some sort of action against a lying, incompetent AG and the Republicans sticking by him because they’re just obeying Bush.

    Maybe I’m just too much of an optimist, though.

  10. Mamasquab

    How I WISH the Dems would stop acting like Abbott & Costello, Laurel & Hardy, and the Three Stooges all rolled into one. They’ve already shown they can’t lead, but you’d think they could at least count.

  11. I think that the general population will just see the Democrats trying to take some sort of action against a lying, incompetent AG and the Republicans sticking by him because they’re just obeying Bush.

    I like your optimism, Stephen. And this would be a great storyline IF the Dems can spin it that way. Unfortunately they are not too good with the talking points and I see the “Abbott & Costello” meme taking hold.

  12. nightshift66

    Stephen,
    The “general population” thinks cloture is someone who sells clothing. You are being far too generous. The only silver lining in this fiasco is the fact that the general population won’t have a clue that any of this ever happened, since they won’t announce it on American Idol or Survivor.

  13. Melissa McEwan

    At least this way they can claim to have tried to get some real work done and were blocked by an obstructionist Republican minority.

    Actually, it’s pretty tough to claim you were trying to get “some real work done” when it was a symbolic gesture in the first place.

  14. I didn’t see this as a loss, frankly. The vote was 53-38 in what was essentially a no-confidence vote. As nightshift66 said, most people have no clue what cloture means–they just see the vote total (if they see it at all) and see that more Senators said Gonzales was doing a bad job than a good one.

    I think that a lot of times, we over worry about these sorts of votes, because we’re so plugged into the workings and happenings of Washington. I doubt more than 20% of the population could even identify Gonzales as AG, even with the recent media coverage. But they could tell you who’s on America’s Next Top Model (I couldn’t).

  15. Melissa McEwan

    I think that a lot of times, we over worry about these sorts of votes, because we’re so plugged into the workings and happenings of Washington.

    I worry about these sorts of votes because I listen to how people out here in Red Country are talking about them. And what I’m hearing, seeing in Letters to the Editor of local papers, etc. is that the Dems are wasting time with symbolic gestures they can’t even get to a vote. Does that sound like an unsophisticated understanding of the isssue? No–that’s pretty well spot-on.

    If people had no clue what was going on, if all these little things were “wins” for the Dems, approval for Harry Reid alone would not have plummeted by more than 10 points in the last couple of months.

  16. nightshift66

    Whoa, whoa Liss. I never said they were ‘wins’ for the Dems. But Joe SixPack isn’t out here saying, “Gol-darn, if ol’ Reid can’t swing a simple procedural vote, I sure don’t approve o’ him.” Gas prices, your own job security, and Iraq change approval ratings, in that order of importance, for a majority of My Fellow Americans ™. But neither was the vote a big loss for the Dems, PR or otherwise. It was irrelevant for most people, and the rest of the people will see it in accordance with their own partisan preferences. Basically, a wash.

  17. Melissa McEwan

    ARGH!

    Dumb: Pursuing the no-confidence bid against Gonzo when the Dems didn’t have the 60 votes to move the resolution forward.

    Dumber: Doing it even though three of the Democratic presidential candidates weren’t going to bother to show up.

    Obama, Dodd, and Biden wouldn’t have made a difference to the end result, but their absence is the kind of thing the party leader should know about, and he should also know those absences in particular are precisely the kind of thing that the media has the tendency to seize on.

  18. Lizard

    Interesting–while I don’t disagree that the Dems proceeded unwisely, at least a few of the mainstream stories I’ve read on this issue have had an unmistakable slant of “Look at the Republicans circling the wagons to protect their own.” Several have mentioned, for example, that John McCain has called for Gonzales’s resignation, but made himself scarce at voting time.

    Even before the deed was done, Bush’s response was what sent me reeling. This is from CNN.com:

    “They can have their votes of no confidence, but it’s not going to make the determination about who serves in my government,” Bush said in Sofia, Bulgaria, the last stop on a weeklong visit to Europe. “This process has been drug out a long time,” Bush added. “It’s political.”

    The only thing more infuriating than his aggressive refusal to speak grammatically is his aggressive insistence on believing that the is government “his”–not ours.

  19. Melissa McEwan

    I never said they were ‘wins’ for the Dems.

    I was responding to Brian’s note that he doesn’t consider this a loss.

    Joe SixPack isn’t out here saying, “Gol-darn, if ol’ Reid can’t swing a simple procedural vote, I sure don’t approve o’ him.”

    Well, Joe SixPack around here is saying, “First the Dems wasted a bunch of time on a symbolic vote about the war, and now they’re wasting a bunch of time on a symbolic vote about Gonzales.” Now you and I might disagree with that assessment, but that doesn’t change the reality that it is a widely-held perception of what’s going on, and–surprise!–pretty much exactly in line with the MSM narrative.

  20. nightshift66

    Liss,
    I agree that many of the poliitcally alert largely perceive the Dems as wasting time, but I think you and I disagree about just how many people that constitutes. I strongly doubt that as much as 20% of the US populace is actively engaged in national politics at this time.

  21. Doktor Wankenstein

    I’m a little in the dark here, so please excuse the next dumb thing outa my mouth…

    why does Congrees have to have a VOTE,

    to have a VOTE,

    on declaring SOMETHING

    that doesn’t actually DO ANYTHING?

  22. nightshift66

    Doktor,
    If I’m taking your question too seriously, I apologize. The Senate cannot vote on anything until debate is closed on the subject. This is called ‘cloture,’ and requires 60 votes instead of a simple majority. Only after debate is closed can a vote be taken on the matter at hand. Since the House only requires a simple majority to do anything, this is never a procedure that occurs there.

    While a vote of no-confidence would have no legal effect in our system, it can have profound political significance. It is a formal disapproval of an official, and in normal times the mere threat of such a vote would move a public official to decide to ‘spend more time with the family.’

  23. A Stranger

    There’s “politically alert” and there’s “listens to Limbaugh and Hannity and O’Rielly spewfests”. The latter will still get the “haha, them donkeys are incompetent asses!” meme.

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