Thursday, May 19, 2005

Josh Micah Marshall at his best

Josh Micah Marshall is like anybody.

When he talks about things with which he is intimately familiar, on which he has spent a great deal of study and effort, he is extremely eloquent, sometimes even prescient. The resulting posts are what make him and his blog worth reading.

When, on the other hand, he talks about things with which he has little or no specific or comprehensive knowledge, he tends to say things which are more or less unintelligible, sometimes even howlingly stupid. These other posts are what make him and his blog at times maddening.

You can make some version of this statement about basically anybody, or at least anybody who knows anything about anything.

The difference between one individual and another on this score is mostly one of individuality. That is, what really separates one commentator from another is the frequency with which they wander into areas in which they have no specific competence.

On this score Josh Micah Marshall is pretty good. It's something he often gets criticized for, but his blog generally focuses on things that he really understands, and that selectivity is what makes his blog one of the best politics blogs, if not the best politics blog, in Washington.

I have much to learn from this man, on this and probably many other scores. In any case, behold one of his very best posts here.

You can think the filibuster is a terrible idea. And you may think that it should be abolished, as indeed it can be through the rules of the senate. And there are decent arguments to made on that count. But to assert that it is unconstitutional because each judge does not get an up or down vote by the entire senate you have to hold that the United States senate has been in more or less constant violation of the constitution for more than two centuries.

There are many thoughtful people who have supported the Republicans through many unwise and self-contradictory initiatives over the years. I know many of these people. And I believe in my heart that for many of them, this may simply be a bridge too far. Perhaps I am overestimating these people, or underestimating the ability of the Republicans to come up with some flashy rubric, perhaps invoking September 11th (wait for it...) that will give thinking Republicans some ideological cover.

But I feel in my heart that the Republican party is about to make the biggest mistake, politically, that it has ever made.

Let the games begin.


Traveller said...

I think (hope) you are right. Though it may not be just this instance of idiocy but an accumulation of screw-ups that brings them down. One thing to keep in mind: for much of the rest of the country, Dem or Rep, it's Washington that is the villain more than an individual party. So we don't gain much if anything if there's a mess.

Adam P. Short said...

Well, I actually don't think this will mean much one way or the other with the general electorate. But I think in terms of serious conservatives who pay attention to politics, this is going to alienate them. They're being played for chumps so transparently that it's going to be hard to swallow.

RBP said...

I just heard that Frist has announced next Tuesday as zero hour. My gut instinct tells me tells me the filibuster is safe. I don't believe there are enough senators who will go along with the majority leader. Senators won't allow the senate to stop being the senate.

I think Frist has to walk that balance beam for the White House, who just wants to save face, so that he can preserve his own viability in '08. Lip service to the far right, but ultimately siding with the moderates. (At least I hope.)

Adam P. Short said...

That would fit the Republican MO, so you may be right. It's funny, if you look at history over the last 20 years since the charismatic right wing has become an important force in GOP politics, the religious right never actually gets anything it wants. Gay rights continue to advance, interracial marriage has become completely commonplace, movies and television have more violent and sexual content than ever, etc. etc. The only thing that the Republicans have accomplished is to give multinational corporations more power over ordinary people's lives. But boy howdy, have they done a bang-up job of that.

Yet every election more and more of these folks show up at the polls and vote Republican. It's really quite a trick.

To be fair, you could say the same thing about the antiwar left, I guess. We vote for Democrats over and over, and all we get is war, war, war.

Anonymous said...

Well, a couple of things. First off, I do find this whole filibuster removal effort to be extremely short-sighted. It feels very much like the people in power are angry that they won't get exactly everything they want, and are willing to throw away their ability to stop Democrats from doing the same thing in the future. Pretty damn stupid, although my feeling is that even if it doesn't happen now, it probably will in the future, by one side or the other. The nature of power suggests as much.

The corporation thing is pretty fun, since no corporation really has any power over people unless they give it to them by, at the very least, purchasing things from those corporations. Though I will freely admit, the US Congress (both parties guilty as hell when it suits their purposes) often passes laws to help coroporations perform certain business activities that they would not be able to do without special interest legislation. But again, both sides love special interest legislation when it fills the campaign coffers.

And although I'm not really the type of individual Adam is talking about, I would like to point out for the record that I've never voted Republican for President since I've been eligible to vote. Or Democrat. I tend to side with "fiscally conservative" Republicans on most things because they are the closest large political base that I remotely agree with. But I generally don't vote for major parties. For the very reason Adam mentions at the end of his comment. Doesn't get you anywhere.


Adam P. Short said...

"The corporation thing is pretty fun, since no corporation really has any power over people unless they give it to them by, at the very least, purchasing things from those corporations."

Wildly, wildly false. But this is the idea that underlies all "Big-L" Libertarianism.

Anonymous said...

Very well. The floor is yours, Mr. Short. Please explain.