Kevin Drum on what John McCain is doing to American politics:
John McCain has obviously decided that he can't win a straight-up fight, so he's decided instead to wage a battle of character assassination, relentless lies, and culture war armageddon. So what happens on November 5th?
If McCain wins, he'll face a Democratic congress that's beyond furious. Losing is one thing, but after eight years of George Bush and Karl Rove, losing a vicious campaign like this one will cause Dems to go berserk. They won't even return McCain's phone calls, let alone work with him on legislation. It'll be four years of all-out war.
And what if Obama wins? The last time a Democrat won after a resurgence of the culture war right, we got eight years of madness, climaxing in an impeachment spectacle unlike anything we'd seen in a century. If it happens again, with the lunatic brigade newly empowered and shrieking for blood, Obama will be another Clinton and we'll be in for another eight years of near psychotic dementia.
Am I exaggerating? Sure. Am I exaggerating a lot? I don't think so. McCain, in his overwhelming desire for office, is unloosing forces that are likely to make the country only barely governable no matter who wins. This would be very bad juju at any time, but George Bush has so seriously weakened the country over the course of his administration that we don't have a lot of room for error left if we want to avoid losing the war on terror for good and turning America into a banana republic while we're at it. We need to start turning the ship around now.
McCain doesn't seem to care much about this anymore, but the rest of us ought to. Unfortunately, no one asked us. I'm afraid we have some rocky times ahead.
After more than a year of heated political wrangling, the Senate handed the White House a major victory Tuesday by voting to broaden the governmentâ€™s spy powers after giving legal protection to phone companies that cooperated in President Bushâ€™s warrantless eavesdropping program.
The Senate rejected a series of amendments that would have restricted the governmentâ€™s surveillance powers and eliminated immunity for the phone carriers, and it voted in convincing fashion â€” 69 to 29 â€” to end debate and bring the issue to a final vote. That vote on the overall bill was an almost identical 68 to 29.
The House has already rejected the idea of immunity for the phone companies, and Democratic leaders reacted angrily to the Senate vote. But Congressional officials said it appeared that the House would ultimately be forced to accept some sort of legal protection for the phone carriers in negotiations between the two chambers this week.
Let there be no doubt: a majority of senators, and a large number of Democrats, think the telecoms should not suffer the hazard of accountability for cooperating with the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) took to the floor last night to give a speech asking, "This is our defining question, the question that confronts every generation: The rule of law, or the rule of men?" The resounding answer: the rule of men.
The Senate voted on the Dodd/Feingold amendment, which would have stripped retroactive immunity from the surveillance bill just now. The final tally was 31-67; crossing over to vote nay were Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Evan Bayh (D-IA), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Tom Carper (D-DE), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jim Webb (D-VA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Update: Here's the official tally.
Presidential candidates Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL) were present for the vote â€“ voting nay and yea, respectively.