“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
Eugene Robinson: Looney, and That’s No Debate
OK, I want to make sure I understand. Two years ago, with the nation facing a host of complex and difficult problems, voters put a bunch of thoughtful, well-educated people in charge of the government. Now many of those same voters, unhappy and impatient, have decided that things will get better if some crazy, ignorant people are running the show? Seriously?
I thought I had come to terms with the whole tea party thing, I really did. I convinced myself that it could be analyzed as a political phenomenon, an expression of disaffection, a reaction to economic, social and demographic change that leaves some Americans anxious and unsettled, blah blah blah. But then came Wednesday’s debate in Delaware-featuring Christine O’Donnell, uncut and uncensored-and all my rationalizations crumbled. This isn’t politics, it’s insanity.
I know that O’Donnell is likely to lose to Democrat Chris Coons. But until Election Day-at least-we’re supposed to take her seriously as the Republican candidate for the United States Senate. Sorry, but I just can’t do it anymore.
Nor can I pretend that Carl Paladino, the raging bull from Buffalo, is qualified by experience or temperament to be governor of New York. Or that Sharron Angle, whose small-government philosophy is so extreme as to be incoherent, could possibly make a worthwhile contribution as a senator. Or that Rich Iott, whose idea of weekend fun is putting on a Nazi SS uniform and gamboling through the woods, is remotely acceptable as a candidate for the House.
Steven G. Bradbury and John P. Elwood: Call the Senate’s bluff on recess appointments
. . . the Senate cannot constitutionally thwart the president’s recess appointment power through pro forma sessions.
The Senate, of course, does not meet as a body during a pro forma session. By the terms of the recess order, no business can be conducted, and the Senate is not capable of acting on the president’s nominations. That means the Senate remains in “recess” for purposes of the recess appointment power, despite the empty formalities of the individual senators who wield the gavel in pro forma sessions.
The president should consider calling the Senate’s bluff by exercising his recess appointment power to challenge the use of pro forma sessions. If the Senate persists, then the federal courts may need to resolve the validity of the Senate’s gambit.
The alternative will likely be greater gridlock in Washington. This practice will inevitably become the standard operating procedure, and the recess appointment power could become a virtual dead letter — undermining what the Founders viewed as an essential tool for the effective functioning of our government.
Come on, President Obama, call them on this Game of Chicken.
Katrina vanden Heuvel: Working Families Party: Still Fighting for Working People
Since its founding in 1998, the Working Families Party (WFP) has emerged as New York State’s liveliest progressive political force. It has helped Democrats take back both the US Congress and the State Senate by bringing disaffected Democrats, union members and independents into a coalition with insurgent Democratic candidates.
In 2009, a WFP-backed slate of unusually good progressive candidates for New York City Council, Comptroller and Public Advocate (Nation contributor Bill De Blasio) all won in a landslide. And this September, the party helped defeat notorious state senator Pedro Espada, who had held Albany hostage by threatening to become a Republican and almost single-handedly blocked tenants’ rights legislation from coming to the floor.
That means New Yorkers voting the WFP line on November 2. If you vote for Cuomo, for example, do so on the WFP line rather than the Democratic line. If you select both bubbles only the majority party will receive your vote, and the WFP needs to reach that 50,000-vote threshold to continue receiving its own line on the state ballot.
The WFP is also on the ballot in five other states-Connecticut, Vermont, Oregon, Delaware and South Carolina. In Connecticut, votes on the WFP line could be the margin in some high-profile races like Attorney General Richard Blumenthal versus Linda McMahon for US Senate, and Democrat Dan Malloy versus Tom Foley for Governor.
So if you can vote for the WFP this election, do it. And all of us can tell our friends and colleagues about this once-ragtag group of unions, community groups and progressives that has grown into a force, electing progressive candidates and advancing progressive causes.