Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Of Death Watches, Delays, and Strategies

The translucent-skinned hunk of dotage propped up by two people and metal braces in this photograph is Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, as he looked several months ago. According to more recent, albeit not as reliable reports, he now more closely resembles a severely malnourished Skeletor in a dark business suit that is actually, for medical and logistical reasons too complex and woeful to recount here, embedded in the remnants of his bodily frame.

I bring this forward not to mock Senator Byrd -- well, not solely for that reason, besides which I will count myself fortunate if I am upright at all by my nineties -- but to reassure the Republicans what they surely already know, that they are very much on the right track. Their response to the 2008 elections, the results of which shrunk their minority ever smaller, has been to use every means available to block or stall the majority's policy initiatives.

When Ted Kennedy finally died last August, and when the chickenshit Democrats saw fit to replace him with a seat-warming ambitionless corpse in order to clear the way for the singularly feckless special election campaign of a listless she-cadaver, in turn vaulting an obscure truck-driving Republican hack into the US Senate, any doubts as to the efficacy of the GOP's delay-everything-always approach vanished. (Among sane observers, that is.)

The approach requires little in the way of cunning. It doesn't require coherence, knowledge, insight, genuineness, integrity, or anything as difficult as that. Indeed, it builds on the bad-faith misanthropic zeal nowadays labeled "conservatism," but it would give it too much credit to call it principled. It needs, in the end, only shameless audacity, a randiness for telling whatever lies the present moment demands, and perhaps someone on staff who can set a google alert that will signal the next death announcement of a sitting Democratic senator. I report with neither sarcasm nor pleasure that it is working beautifully.

The smart money says Senator Robert Byrd will die next -- taking all his experience, eloquence, and erudition with him -- as he isn't so much knocking at Death's door as dribbling tea down his front in Death's antechamber, but it could well be any of several moribund (physically or otherwise) Democrats. If only by attrition, then, stubborn, tireless, shameless obstruction by every means can restore whatever the GOP believes, or claims to believe, it lost in November 2008.

This method is assisted, as always, by a weak, weak-willed, and craven majority, and one can do far worse in life than to enjoy worthless adversaries.

May Senator Byrd live long and healthfully enough to prove me wrong. I expect no such thing, and that truly saddens and angers me.

Rachel Maddow gives a sense of how this "system" works in this excellent segment:

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