A House Scramble Served by Snowden with a dash of Libertarianism

by lizard

The big news today is NOT another worthless speech by the president. The White House attempt to “refocus” on the economy smacks of desperation. Why?

The big news that broke late this afternoon represents a political unraveling of the conventional fabric of partisan politics. It wouldn’t be outlandish to say a whole new landscape of possibilities now exists.

For example, today we witnessed the pro-surveillance alignment of Michelle Bachman and president Obama. Yeah.

More importantly, today we witnessed a House vote that took a majority of Republicans siding with the Obama administration to squash the Amash/Conyers amendment, and even with a majority of Republicans siding with the president, the margin was a thin 12 votes (to see how the votes split, go here).

Here is an excerpt from the initial NYT framing:

The amendment to the annual Defense Department spending bill, written by Representatives Justin Amash, a libertarian Republican from Western Michigan, and John Conyers Jr., a veteran liberal Democrat from Detroit, turned Democrat against Democrat and Republican against Republican.

It would have limited N.S.A. phone surveillance to specific targets of law enforcement investigations, not broad dragnets. It was only one of a series of proposals — including restricting funds for Syrian rebels and adding Congressional oversight to foreign aid to Egypt — intended to check President Obama’s foreign and intelligence policies.

But in the phone surveillance program, the House’s right and left wings appeared to find a unifying cause. Representative Raúl R. Labrador, Republican of Idaho, called it “the wing nut coalition” and Mr. Amash “the chief wing nut.”

The frayed fabric of political partisanship didn’t just start unraveling today. Two years ago, when Dennis Kucinich tried to push for congressional action against Obama’s regime change humanitarian war in Libya, he got more support from Republicans than from Democrats. How did Democrats feel about this strange bedfellow vote?

One Democrat called it the “sign of the apocalypse.”

An anti-war resolution authored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who spent years trying to impeach the last Republican president for prosecuting an illegal war, won more support from Republicans than Democrats on the House floor.

That was the case Friday as the House debated how to respond, belatedly, to President Obama’s military intervention in Libya. Kucinich’s resolution, which would mandate an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces absent congressional authorization, failed by a wide margin, 265-148, but it garnered votes from more than one-third of the Republican conference. Eighty-seven Republicans voted for the measure compared to 61 Democrats.

To better understand the new emerging political calculus, I highly recommend spending 5 minutes watching this clip from a recent All In episode examining the intent behind Liz Cheney’s bid for a senate seat:

While I’m no fan of Rand Paul, I am very interested in the libertarian trend shaking American politics. I think there is real fear among “the establishment” (whatever that bland term may mean) about how to manage these shifts in the political terrain.

However it ultimately came about, seeing this unusual bipartisan alliance push back against the surveillance state is encouraging.

Actually, we know how this all came about: his name is Edward Snowden, and tonight he got the conversation he was hoping for.

Thanks Ed.

  1. 1 A Jackboot for Journalists and America’s New Political Landscape | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] wish the big news of this past week was the House vote on the Amash/Conyers amendment. Even the little post I wrote about it got less views than anything I’ve written in last few […]

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