Our readers are all very familiar with the fact that, in an effort to pass an atrocious bill which would codify all of the worst irregularities of the 2020 presidential election into federal law and essentially destroy any reasonable public confidence in election integrity – they want to do it in the name of “voting rights,” as though there are any deficiencies in American citizens’ rights to vote – Senate Democrat leadership is attempting to eliminate the filibuster.
In this project they’re failing, of course, because again and again two of their number, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, consistently refuse to dump the filibuster. With their refusal, the entire project of federalizing elections behind the promotion of ballot harvesting, eliminating voter ID, breaking down barriers which would prevent non-citizens from voting (something which is more or less already the case in states like California) and other clear departures from tried-and-true electoral practice is essentially a dead letter.
A dead letter they’ve staked a whole lot on right in the middle of some highly questionable economic times when inflation is at seven percent, jobs numbers are terrible and the public is convinced that the country’s leadership is badly unsuited to the moment. Trying to play around with election rules only gives off the impression these are tyrants attempting to rule rather than govern. As Peggy Noonan wrote at the Wall Street Journal, the unhinged, horrid speech Joe Biden gave demanding this terrible “voting rights” bill’s passage was a true break from the political mainstream…
It is startling when two speeches within 24 hours, neither much heralded in advance—the second wouldn’t even have been given without the first—leave you knowing you have witnessed a seminal moment in the history of an administration, but it happened this week. The president’s Tuesday speech in Atlanta, on voting rights, was a disaster for him. By the end of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s answering speech on Wednesday you knew some new break point had occurred, that President Biden might have thought he was just crooning to part of his base but the repercussions were greater than that; he was breaking in some new way with others—and didn’t know it. It is poor political practice when you fail to guess the effects of your actions. He meant to mollify an important constituency but instead he filled his opponents with honest indignation and, I suspect, encouraged in that fractured group some new unity.
The speech itself was aggressive, intemperate, not only offensive but meant to offend. It seemed prepared by people who think there is only the Democratic Party in America, that’s it, everyone else is an outsider who can be disparaged. It was a mistake on so many levels. Presidents more than others in politics have to maintain an even strain, as astronauts used to say. If a president is rhetorically manipulative and divisive on a voting-rights bill it undercuts what he’s trying to establish the next day on Covid and the economy. The over-the-top language of the speech made him seem more emotional, less competent. The portentousness—“In our lives and . . . the life of our nation, there are moments so stark that they divide all that came before them from everything that followed. They stop time”—made him appear incapable of understanding how the majority of Americans understand our own nation’s history and the vast array of its challenges.
By the end he looked like a man operating apart from the American conversation, not at its center. This can be fatal to a presidency.
Then Quinnipiac released a poll
Marching off this cliff was always a bad idea, but the Democrats are desperate to change the electoral rules in an effort to stave off the midterm rout which is brewing in both House and Senate races. Rigging the process, they believe, is the only way to hold on to power.
But trying to kill the filibuster is exposing some pretty breathtaking hypocrisy on Schumer’s part. Because while Manchin and Sinema reiterated their refusal to fundamentally change the Senate to pass a bad bill, the Democrats actually used the filibuster to kill a good one which had bipartisan support yesterday.
You read that correctly.
Sen. Ted Cruz had a bill which would have imposed sanctions on the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which moves a great deal of natural gas from Russia into Western Europe and essentially yokes the European Union to Vladimir Putin in terms of its energy needs. Cruz held up several State Department nominees in order to force a vote on the bill, and ultimately Schumer relented when he realized there were a few members of his own party who were for it.
Which was obviously going to be the case. Opposing Nord Stream 2 is just good American policy. We’re a natural gas exporter and a competitor with Russia in that field and Europe is the richest market available for natural gas exports. Why wouldn’t we throw up roadblocks to infrastructure that would make Russia more competitive in the European market at a time when we’re seeking to block Russian adventurism in places like Ukraine and Kazakhstan?
It’s stupid, and frankly suspicious, that we aren’t engaging in the game. Democrats agree.
So yesterday Cruz’ bill came up. And what happened?
Schumer and the Democrats filibustered it.
It failed on a 55-44 vote. Nord Stream 2 will be built without any American resistance. We won’t even throw up enough obstacles that our diplomats could come to the table and get something from the Russians in exchange for allowing that pipeline to be built.
Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, whose state has several natural gas export facilities and produces oodles of the stuff, was incensed.
“America was the top supplier of Europe’s LNG imports for months in 2021—and Louisiana produces most of the LNG that the U.S. exports,” he said. “But instead of playing to America’s strengths or promoting security for our freedom-loving allies, President Biden is tightening the Kremlin’s stranglehold on Europe’s energy. The Senate vote today makes America’s friends more dependent on Russian gas precisely while President Putin is salivating over Ukraine like he’s the lord of eastern Europe.”
Again, it’s so stupid it’s suspicious, and for Schumer to use a filibuster to beat a bill several of his own party members are for while he’s demanding an end to the filibuster is just breathtaking.
Why would he do that? Well, this old picture is now floating around again…
That’s from a grand opening of a Lukoil station in Brooklyn in 2003. It doesn’t have a lot to do with Nord Stream 2. But it does make Schumer out to be a Russian stooge and a schmuck in light of yesterday’s brazen hypocrisy.
It’s time for the Democrats’ majority in the Senate, a majority they never deserved, to end.
UPDATE: We should include the speech Sen. Mitch McConnell gave before Schumer’s filibuster. It’s pretty good.