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5.4.06

Landrieu publicity stunt demonstrates powerlessness

Sen. Mary Landrieu is mad again. This time she’s threatened Wednesday to block President George W. Bush's appointments requiring Senate confirmation until "significant progress" is made toward restoring the flood protection damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Is this just a political stunt, or can it actually work?

The answer is “yes,” a bit of both. As her 2008 election date nears, Landrieu needs to rely on bombast such as this to deflect attention from her long record of ineffectiveness in Washington, particularly on the flood control issue itself, especially when her narrow margins of victory now live in Texas. Simultaneously, she is engaging in a long-time Senate practice, of putting a “hold” on a Senate action.

But not all holds are equal. It is up to the Senate leadership whether to respect that senator’s wishes – and the leadership now of course is in the hands of Landrieu’s opponents. Traditionally, when the action is a nomination for a position essentially within a senator’s home state and comes from a senator of the president’s party, it universally is respected. Otherwise, there are no guarantees.

Being that Landrieu’s is blanket in nature, it’s unlikely that the leadership will defer. Then Landrieu’s only other option is to go for a filibuster, but that would succeed only if at least a handful of Democrats will go to the wall with her each time and almost all of the party consistently would have to vote to allow it to be maintained. Given election year politics, that seems highly unlikely. Further, if for some reason everything does align to make this a workable strategy, Bush simply can make a recess appointment if he feels the situation warrants.

In short, there’s little to this threat. Democrats would have to make her complaints a centerpiece of an obstructionist strategy in an election year – admittedly, the only strategy a party bereft of ideas popular to the American public has, but probably not the issue around which to build it. That Landrieu has said she will engage in such tactics only reaffirms her utter powerlessness and growing sense of panic.

1 comment:

Nick said...

I think Landrieu would be much better served to join Jindal, Vitter, and Blanco in fighting for Louisiana to get it's rightful share of offshore revenues, that way we can fund most, if not all, of our recovery and reconstruction efforts. Once again, though, Landrieu is taking the senseless approach. Yet, she keeps getting re-elected.