Rahmbo's little game: and the 24 Dems who stopped him

In response to Brer Cheney's radical Constitutional reinterpretations, Rahmbo (I clearly wasn't paying attention!) was noisily proclaiming an upcoming legislative stunt .

(No opprobrium attaches to the word stunt in context: if ever the Congress decides to stick to legislating and nothing but, the world will be a much duller place. Besides, fish gotta swim...)

This was by no means a solo effort of the Feingold censure variety: even Senate colleagues like Durbin (whose subcommittee will be marking up the Senate version of the FY08 financial services apps bill after the recess) and Chucky Boy were talking tough.

Unfortunately, on the night, Rahmbo failed to keep his guys in line: as mentioned in my earlier piece (with links), his amendment failed.

Moreover, no fewer than 24 Dem reps voted against:

NameCD
BEANIL-8
BORENOK-2
BOYDFL-2
CAPUANOMA-8
CUELLARTX-28
EDWARDSTX-17
ELLSWORTHIN-8
GORDONTN-6
HERSETHSD-1
KAPTUROH-9
KLEINFL-22
LAMPSONTX-22
MCDERMOTWA-7
MURTHAPA-12
OBEYWI-7
PETERSONMN-7
ROSSAR-4
SALAZARCO-3
SESTAKPA-7
SKELTONMO-4
SMITHWA-9
SNYDERAR-2
SPACEOH-18
TANNERTN-8

Now, I don't know most of them from a hole in the ground; but the names of Murtha, Peterson, Obey and Skelton leap from the page as those of senior guys, one of whom might leave the reservation in a brainstorm or fit of personal animus. But all four?

I've no idea what sort of a count Rahmbo had before he launched his sally; but making such loud threats, and then failing to follow through because of defections from your own ranks, makes the Dem position rather worse than if he'd kept quiet and passed the Cheney goodie-bag without comment.

As for the merits of the stunt itself (as distinct from its execution), sophomoric strikes me as an appropriate tag. I can't imagine who the Dem leadership thought they would impress by bringing off such a coup: even most low info voters (if the registered it at all) would realize they were in I voted for it before I voted against it territory, and the approval rating of the 110th, already vying with that of Bush in the nadir championship, would slide a wee bit further into the mire.

A constitutional donnybrook over starving Dick would be all Bush's Christmases coming at once: everyone would know the Dems would have to retreat, even if they took their initial objective. Which they didn't.

(If the Dems won't go to the mat with Bush over Iraq...)

Of course, the Rahmbo damp squib could be a feint to lull the WH into a false sense of security, while the Dems prepare to make a deadly strike elsewhere. (Ever the optimist, me.)

Perhaps Nancy OK'd the stunt, but then got cold feet, and sent in Murtha and Co as the rescue squad. Perhaps Rahmbo was set up by person or persons unknown.

(Among the 24, there's a disproportionate band of Dogs (full list), but not so disproportionate as to do more than raise the question of an ideological or factional element to what happened.)

Plenty more chances this Congress for Dem MCs to Dick around with VP spending, if they've a yen...

Tags: Clerk Website House Roll Call Pages, Emanuel Amendment Cutting Off Funds to Vice-President's Office, H Res 78, Polisci, Voting Rights for Delegates to US House (all tags)

Comments

4 Comments

Good Idea

I actually though that this "stunt" was a good idea.  You have to remember that this was in the context that Dick Cheney had just claimed that he's not a member of the Executive Branch of Government.  I'm not sure what would be a good response to such an absurd claim.

by maddogg 2007-07-03 09:07AM | 0 recs
My thoughts...

were pretty much off the top of my head:

First - viewed from the point of no return (and assuming for the sake of argument flawless execution), would the stunt add to or detract from Sixpack's impression of Cheney overstepping his bounds by a light-year or two?

My answer: it would detract; it doesn't address Cheney's overstretch, but makes a rude gesture instead; it feeds a feeling of the Dems once again (after Iraq) talking bold words in circumstances where everyone knows they would never follow through; it looks petty and childish (which the various proposals on Iraq (like the Murtha Proviso) most certainly did not do), and lends Cheney a slight aura of statesmanship in comparison.

Second - as of the point of no return, what were the chances of the Emanuel Amendment passing?

My answer: can't tell, but the show of opposition (with the senior guys in there) suggests that either something vote-changing happened in the intervening period, or Rahmbo seriously miscounted. (He surely couldn't have be counting on GOP defections.)

Third - as of said point, what was the estimate of the consequences of the Amendment failing to pass?

My answer: again, can't tell, but surely a significant boost to House GOP morale was to be expected, as also another reference for those in the media eager to point to serial Dem leadership failures to meet expectations that they raised in 06. (There is a time-saving arc to be found in the GOP-controlled 80th that some may be toying with.)

Now, I don't follow the polling, but I doubt whether the Cheney offensive has made much impact (and that most of any such impact will soon dissipate). I greatly doubt whether, succeed or fail, the Rahmbo counterattack would make much difference with Sixpack either.

It's more an inside baseball thing for the geeks and pros. And, on balance, Rahmbo's was not the percentage play there. (Compared to the only alternative that occurs to me: propagandize against Cheney, but leave legislating out of it.)

by skeptic06 2007-07-03 11:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Rahmbo's little game: and the 24 Dems who stop

I liked this idea, too. I thought it was hilarious, and it probably helped force Cheney to back off that line of argument.

by Max Fletcher 2007-07-03 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Rahmbo's little game: and the 24 Dems who stop

I have to be honest that when I originally heard the stunt proposed I didn't think it was actually meant to have passed. It seemed more like a joke than anything.

At least, I don't think it makes anyone look bad except Cheney and maybe Rahm.

by Silent sound 2007-07-03 10:30AM | 0 recs

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