The Washington Post reports on “a low point in the history of congressional comity”: “House Democrats Storm Out of Ways and Means Committee.” To summarize briefly, the Ways and Means Committee took up a measure to accelerate certain changes in laws relating to 401(k) and IRA accounts; the Democrats protested that there was no hurry; Chairman Bill Thomas proceeded; the Democrats demanded that the entire 91-page bill be read out loud; Thomas agreed, noting that “In the House, the minority can delay. They cannot deny;” infuriated Democrats stormed out and held a press conference in the library next door, whining that they were oppressed as the minority; and Thomas summoned the Capitol police to have the Democrats ejected (unsuccessfully).
Beyond the obvious entertainment value, it seems to me that this episode sheds light on the attitude of Congressional Democrats. It is commonplace to observe that many Democrats refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Bush presidency. What is less frequently noted is that the Democrats also refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Republican majorities in the House and the Senate. One of the Democratic Ways and Means members told the press today that the Republicans are “running a police state.” For the Democrats, being outvoted means they are living in a police state. If they get their way–never mind that they are a minority–that is true “democracy.” Hence their determination to strip President Bush of his Constitutional right to appoint judges by filibustering all those they disapprove of. The Republican majority is illegitimate, so they have no alternative, they think, but to take matters into their own hands. They simply cannot accept that they are a minority because a majority of Americans voted for the other party.
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