Senator Joe Lieberman threatens a filibuster to fend off the dreaded Public Option. It’s a serious threat — who would want to listen to Lieberman blither and dribble for hours on end?
Why are the Democrats so afraid of a filibuster — other than the reasonable concern that there wouldn’t be enough air-sickness bags to go around?
What better view for Americans of what’s going on in Washington? What a perfect symbol. Let the Party of No stand up and stop progress by talking endlessly. What a perfect way to focus the media on the stakes in the health-care reform struggle. While the Republicans — and Senator Joe — blather on, the media will be hijacked. Reporters and TV hosts will have to talk about issues such as insurance companies not insuring you if you’re already sick, not insuring you when you get really sick, the rising cost of coverage, the number of bankruptcies due to medical expenses, and so on. Democrats can say “America, we want to bring you less-expensive, more-effective health care coverage that you’ll always have and that will always cover you, and here, standing and talking, are the people keeping you from better health.”
Bring it on. Let John Ensign or Sam Brownback or Thad Cochran or Orrin Hatch or James Inhofe show us what giants they are by trying to better Strom Thurmond’s filibuster record of talking for 24 hours and 18 minutes straight — mouthing the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and George Washington’s Farewell Address (only Strom himself didn’t leave for almost another half century) — trying to stop the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
The filibusters by Southern Democrats let the country clearly see who was standing in the way of Civil Rights for black Americans.
When Southerners were planning another anti-Civil Rights filibuster in 1960, Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson was ready. According to Robert Mann in The Walls of Jericho,, “If Southerners wanted to prevent a vote, he would force them to wage a full-fledged filibuster — not the gentlemanly nine-to-five variety that had been the rule in recent years.” LBJ said, “I think all members should be on notice that their presence may be demanded at any time during any evening, or in the early morning hours of the morning, all night around the clock, every night next week or the following week, until a vote is obtained.”
“Filibuster” comes from the Dutch word for “Freebooter” — which means pirate. Let’s let the country clearly see who the pirates are. Let the pirates stand up, let us see them standing in the way.
Bring it on. It’s a symbol that will clarify the battle over health-care reform.
— Bruce Benidt