Biden wants to end the filibuster
President Joe Biden took to the lectern yesterday on the campus of Morehouse College and in unequivocal terms, challenged the Senate to end the filibuster rules, ones that require a super-majority of 60 votes, so that the Freedom to Vote and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Acts can get passed.
Said Mr. Biden, "I support changing the Senate rules, whichever way they need to be changed to prevent a minority of senators from blocking actions on voting rights..."
Biden's old colleague and current Republican nemesis, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), hit below the belt by falsely playing upon the common GOP talking points that Biden is senile and paints all conservatives as racist. Said Mr. McConnell: “The president’s rant — rant — yesterday was incoherent, incorrect, and beneath his office...The president repeatedly invoked the January 6th riot while himself using irresponsible, delegitimizing rhetoric that undermines our democracy...The sitting president of the United States compared American states to totalitarian states...So the world saw our commander-in-chief propagandize against his own country to a degree that would have made Pravda blush.”
Wow! There's much to unpack here, so let us consider:
1. Yes, President Biden, at times, does give the appearance of being tired, grumpy, or out of touch (see Afghanistan)—but yesterday was NOT one of those times! His speechwriters hit the right points—and he stood and delivered his righteous demand that the filibuster ends now—and that voting rights get protected for ALL Americans.
2. Clearly, not all Republicans are racists, Mr. McConnell, but if 52 million Republicans are supporting measures that detrimentally impact Black voters, as has been the case in red states the past 12 months, then those Republicans support racist policies! As I have written time and again, frankly, I don't give a damn if this Republican or that Republican despises me or other Black folks in private, but I do give a damn when their policies impact my and other Black folks' ability to enjoy the rights supposedly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and other federal statutes.
3. The unmitigated gall of McConnell to suggest that President Biden's comments are un-American is rich with irony. I mean, a little over 12-months ago, it was heavily armed Republicans storming the Capitol Complex after breaking doors and windows while urinating and defecating in the halls of Congress; threatening to hang then Republican V.P. Mike Pence while brandishing "Trump 2020" and Confederate Battle Flags in a fit of violence unseen at the Capitol since the British lit up Washington D.C. during the War of 1812!
I find it appalling that McConnell could use such histrionics in disagreement with President Biden's request to end the filibuster, all the while he, like most Republicans, stood largely mute and falsetto voiced when his former President and party leader, Donald Trump, made a mockery of the 2020 election and what had previously been peaceful transfers of power.
Lest we forget!
The GOP Civil War is warming up
Speaking of internecine political fighting, the reason that Sen. McConnell and many other Republicans have lost their nerves is that with the mid-term elections in sight, they've chosen to take the "maybe if we avoid upsetting the former President, perhaps he will quiet down in Mar-a-Lago and allow the GOP to win the House and Senate thus year?"
Fat chance; it is clear that the crowd loving Trump, much like his presidential predecessor Barack Obama, is going to continue being a very present figure in partisan political power struggles in the years to come.
Since last summer, Trump has weighed in on hundreds of GOP primary races on the state and local levels, with his support hinging upon whether the Republican candidate will parrot his "Stop the Steal" falsities about the 2020 election.
Juxtaposed to those Republican incumbents and candidates who are willing to take the lying loyalty oath are a number of moderates and conservatives like former President George W. Bush, his former vice-president, Dick Cheney, and Rep. Liz Cheney, each of whom congratulated Mr. Biden on his victory in 2020—and continue to support the legitimacy of his administration (even if disagreeing on substantive policy).
Sen. McConnell, too, once was in league with the rational Republicans who saw Trump's mendacities for what they were, but has since shunned common sense for his own desire to return to the head of the Senate chamber by appeasing Trump's loyal fans who can be pivotal next Fall should they stay home if their supreme leader, Trump, says so (like thousands did in the Georgia 2021 Senate runoff that led to Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Osoff being elected).
The latest battle in the GOP civil war has centered upon the rhetorical wrestling between Sen. Mike Rounds, (R-S.D.), and Mr. Trump. Sen. Rounds is one of a few within his caucus with spine still intact, and when asked about Trump's stolen election claims, stated this past weekend: "While there were some irregularities, there were none of the irregularities which would have risen to the point where they would have changed the vote outcome in a single state. The election was fair, as fair as we have seen. We simply did not win the election, as Republicans, for the presidency. And if we simply look back and tell our people don't vote because there's cheating going on, then we're going to put ourselves in a huge disadvantage."
Mr. Trump, per usual, clapped back on Sunday with school boy insults, claiming that Sen. Rounds "just went woke," before calling him a "jerk," "weak," "ineffective" and questioning whether Rounds was "crazy or just stupid."
Today, in his first interview with NPR (which he cut short after nine minutes), Trump was more measured in his rebuttal to Sen. Rounds, stating "No, I think (claiming the election was stolen) it's an advantage, because otherwise they're going to do it again in '22 and '24, and Rounds is wrong on that. Totally wrong."
While such barbs, oddly, provide some measure of comic relief, the truth is no laughing matter! And the truth is that American governments have always thrived upon two major parties providing contrasting styles and opinions in Washington or state capitals, and when one is as dysfunctional as the GOP is at this time, or frozen like deer in oncoming headlights, as the Democratic Party often is because Republicans are scared to negotiate (lest they face the ire of their former president), we, the people, all suffer!
Thank you and please subscribe to the Hobbservation Point—have a great Wednesday evening!
Chuck Hobbs is a freelance journalist who won the 2010 Florida Bar Media Award and has been twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary.