Beyond the Rampant Hypocrisy

Norman Orstein, the Congressional scholar and the liberal in residence at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, has a short must read post:

Any veteran observer of Congress is used to the rampant hypocrisy over the use of parliamentary procedures that shifts totally from one side to the other as a majority moves to minority status, and vice versa. But I can’t recall a level of feigned indignation nearly as great as what we are seeing now from congressional Republicans and their acolytes at the Wall Street Journal, and on blogs, talk radio, and cable news.

It reached a ridiculous level of misinformation and disinformation over the use of reconciliation, and now threatens to top that level over the projected use of a self-executing rule by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In the last Congress that Republicans controlled, from 2005 to 2006, Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier used the self-executing rule more than 35 times, and was no stranger to the concept of “deem and pass.”

That strategy, then decried by the House Democrats who are now using it, and now being called unconstitutional by WSJ editorialists, was defended by House Republicans in court (and upheld). Dreier used it for a $40 billion deficit reduction package so that his fellow GOPers could avoid an embarrassing vote on immigration.

I don’t like self-executing rules by either party—I prefer the “regular order”—so I am not going to say this is a great idea by the Democrats. But even so—is there no shame anymore?


The answer to Dr. Ornstein's question is no, not on that other side of the aisle.

It's gone beyond hypocrisy however. The rhetoric emanating from the Republicans is as if some prelude to civil war. You have Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota openly calling on citizens not to pay taxes and to engage in acts of civil disobedience. At her "Kill the Bill" rally on the St. Paul Minnesota State Capital steps, she compared President Obama to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez and then called the healthcare reform bill "illegitimate" before suggesting that such illegitimate bills need not be followed.

"In their bill they have the IRS enforcing the Health Care Bill", said Rep. Bachmann. "We're not going to pay their taxes..." "We don't have to follow a bill that isn't law."

Watch it:

Then there's Rep. Steve King of Iowa who in comments to the Huffington Postis encouraging a popular uprising that shuts down government until it capitulates.


Fill this city up, fill this city, jam this place full so that they can't get in, they can't get out and they will have to capitulate to the will of the American people," he said.

"So this is just like Prague under communist rule?" the Huffington Post asked.

"Oh yeah, it is very, very close," King replied. "It is the nationalization of our liberty and the federal government taking our liberty over. So there are a lot of similarities there."

Earlier, King implored the crowd to bring the nation's capital to a sort of paralysis. Warning, erroneously, that the health care bill would fund abortion and fund care for 6.1 million illegal immigrants, he demanded that concerned citizens "continue to rise up."

"I look back 20 years ago in the square in Prague... when tens of thousands showed up there and they shook their keys peacefully and they took over their country and they achieved their freedom back again," he said.

"If you can keep coming to this city, fill up the congressional offices across the country but jam this city. If you can get on your cell phones, and get on your Blackberries and your email, and ask people to keep coming to this town. Storm this city, fill up Washington D.C., jam this capital so they can't move. And if tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of you show up, we will win. We will defeat this bill and you will have your liberty back."


This is government by intimidation. It's crazy talk and it's much more than just rampant hypocrisy and shameful. It is downright reprehensible.

Tags: US Healthcare Reform, Parliamentary Procedure, Norman Ornstein (all tags)




It would have been nice if Ornstein had cited to the case where the self-executing rule was upheld.  I would like to read it.

by Steve M 2010-03-16 11:16PM | 0 recs
Just do it regular order

Seriously, if this is what they want, I don't see what the big deal is.  It reminds me of the Drilling for oil in ANWAR debate of a few years ago.  Everyone rose up to defend ANWAR and so when drilling didn't end up happening, it made the Republicans look moderate, reasonable, compromising.  Meanwhile millions of acres in new oil drilling leases were awarded all up and down the Western US.  It was classic political judo.  Let's do the same thing.  Give them this teeny battle in return for the much larger (and infinitely more important) prize of Healthcare Reform.  Well, the beginnings of it anyhow.

by the mollusk 2010-03-17 01:56AM | 0 recs

God, Bachmann is bat-shit crazy.  I often wonder if she is really like this or if she is like Ann Coulter on the Boondocks... just saying it for the money.

by FUJA 2010-03-17 03:10AM | 0 recs
thanks for covering the latest Steve King idiocy

He never lets a week pass by without embarrassing Iowans.

by desmoinesdem 2010-03-17 07:31AM | 0 recs
Dem use of "deem-and-pass" here IS different because...'s being used on something too high profile to "hide" anyone's vote.

That's the REAL mistake, thinking this is a way to "hide" anything.

Yes the Rethugs did it all the time, and they did so often to hide otherwise unpopular votes.  And it worked because the "hidden" bills were things that otherwise would have been more unpopular had they received any news coverage.

But you can't hide your vote on HCR.  And to the extent that the deem-and-pass tactic is being mapped out specifically to hide votes, it was stupidly conceived from the start.

What House Dems should have done from the start was to make clear the purpose of deem-and-pass isn't to help anyone hide an unpopular vote, but rather to make clear the House was supporting the Senate bill-with-fixes, and opposing the Senate bill alone.  That's a credible take on what they're really doing.  But instead, all the news reports are spinning deem-and-pass as an attempt to hide an unpopular vote, and from all appearances it looks like that IS EXACTLY how Pelosi et al. viewed it themselves.  And that makes deem-and-pass look juvenile.

by DCCyclone 2010-03-17 08:34AM | 0 recs
on that whole chavez comment

how has somebody who has won 14 democratic elections a dictator?

by liberalminded 2010-03-17 11:00AM | 0 recs
RE: on that whole chavez comment

because the person calling him a dictator doesn't like him.  duh.

by the mollusk 2010-03-17 11:17AM | 0 recs
Gymnastic shark jumping

Okay.  This is getting a little ridiculous.  The Virginia attorney general is going to sue the federal government over Healthcare Reform.  This may well turn into a Civil Rights-type issue of our time in that as the rhetoric against it becomes increasingly nonsensical and desperate, the long-term public opinion becomes more favorable.  I wonder whether an 18-29 year-old, already inclined to support Obama, looks at this nonsense and forms a lasting impression that the Republicans represent a dying philosophy.  If that's the case, I don't really think it matters whether "deem and pass" or "the triple option" or the "off-tackle power play" or the "pick and role" are used to pass this.  The long-term prospects are good.  Republicans are looking more desperate and impotent as this goes forward.  Also, as more Catholic groups and Stupakers get behind this bill, the mystique that it somehow represents a real change in abortion policy diminishes as well.  I'm feeling all hope buzzed.

by the mollusk 2010-03-17 12:50PM | 1 recs


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