WASHINGTON – For a century, Jim Crow Democrats used the threat of filibuster to keep black Americans in the social and economic twilight zone. Today, Senate Republicans, who are in the minority, are using the same threat to tie up the Senate with unlimited debate to block right reason on a host of issues.
The Senate last week was at its worst. A handful of GOP votes stopped a vote on a bill to finally give the District of Columbia a single vote in the Houses.
Then Republicans brandishing filibuster denied the Senate a vote on a compromise bill to give battle- weary soldiers fighting in Iraq more rest and more time with their families. There was a majority for it, but not 60 of 100 votes needed to end a filibuster.
Sickeningly, Republicans on Thursday staged a vote defending Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of ground forces in Iraq. His independence from the White House and his professionalism were reasonably called into question by a harsh newspaper ad bought by Moveon.org.
The wording of the Senate resolution was contemptible. It claimed the ad had also attacked the “honor and integrity… of all members of the U.S. Armed Forces.” It hadn’t.
To their great credit, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., had the spine to join only 23 others in opposing this disgraceful sham. Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who wants to be president, evaded a vote.
That 22 Democrats joined Republicans in defending the “honor and integrity” of soldiers who had not been criticized shows what a scary place Washington has become in its swoon of mock patriotism. The capital is becoming as polarized as it has been since the era of McCarthyism of the 1950s.