Wednesday, August 11, 2021

McConnell Forgot To Say "Guys, Don't Do Anything Stupid"

This is hard to believe. En route to approving a budget resolution as the first step in passing a $3.5 trillion "soft infrastructure" bill by budget reconciliation

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) tried to offer a nonbinding change to the budget related to opposing defunding the police.

"The far-left rally cry of defund the price is not just D.C. rhetoric, they're actually acting on it," Tuberville said from the Senate floor.

Actually, they're not. Article after article trumpets the decision (or attempt) to cut funds from police departments. Typically, those municipalities have redirected funds from law enforcement needs to social service needs. But there is no recorded instance of a town actually defunding the police. So recognizing a hanging curve when he saw it

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who has been involved in police reform negotiations, gave an energetic rebuttal — urging every senator to "sashay" to the center of the chamber and vote for the amendment.

"I am sure I will see no political ads attacking anybody here over defund the police," Booker quipped.

As the New Jersey senator realizes, there still will be some ads while the ranks of Democratic members of Congress who support actual defunding of the police run the ideological gamut from Cori Bush to Rashida Tlaib, or from A to B. But few others want police departments eliminated, and fewer still are rising to the chant of "defund the police," heeding the warning of House Majority Whip James Clyburn.

Tuberville should have realized that; Mitch McConnell evidently does because

After Democrats supported the amendment, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) office blasted out a press release entitled "Democrats Are Still The Party Of Defunding The Police." And Tuberville's office sent out a press release characterizing the vote as Democrats pouncing "at the chance to distance themselves from 'defund police' rhetoric.

When you have to say "my opponent still is," the war may not be lost but the battle is. And when the Senator who (successfully) sponsored the amendment concedes his opponents (Democrats) eagerly accepted the "chance to distance themselves," the message is clear: they did.

Booker has reason to gloat. Senator Tuberville's amendment  "to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to decreasing Federal funding for local jurisdictions that defund the police." If the Alabaman had chosen not to grandstand, he could have moved "to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to decreasing Federal funding for local jurisdictions that endanger public safety by reducing spending for law enforcement and/or police." That would have put most Democratic senators in a bind, with a vote in favor leaving them open to criticism from much of their base, a vote against a liability in a general election.

But he chose not to do so, thereby enabling Democrats to stand side by side with Republicans in supporting police and public safety by merely rejecting an idea that no Democratic member of the Senate and very few in the House want to be associated with, anyway.  That may be only fitting; Republicans like to portray themselves as godlike, and Tuberville's move seems like a gift from heaven, a veritable act of grace.

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