Hilarity broke out on the Senate floor a week ago Monday (9/8) after 25 Republicans joined 54 Democrats in voting to begin debate on a constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, to overturn the Supreme Court decision which threw out limits on campaign contributions.
By voting with Democrats to advance consideration of a Democrat-sponsored measure, Republicans were "stalling" and "obstructing," charged a flummoxed Sen. Reid.
Campaign finance reform is a hot button issue for the Democrat base, which Sen. Reid has fueled by launching one foam-flecked tirade after another against Charles and David Koch, the libertarian billionaires who've provided substantial financial support to GOP candidates.
The effort to demonize the aging Koch brothers has reached such surreal proportions that Democrats have attacked them even for their generous charitable contributions, attacked hospitals and black colleges for accepting them.
But Sen. Reid never expected - and I doubt he intended -- for the Udall amendment to pass. A proposed constitutional amendment must receive support from two thirds of the members of both the House and Senate before it can be sent to the states for ratification. The odds Sen. Udall's plan to gut the First Amendment could ever obtain that level of support are less than zero in the few days remaining in this legislative session.
Sen. Reid knows this well, but assumes the boobs in the base don't. He sought a floor vote on the Udall amendment to goose turnout from the base in the midterm elections, and to extract more campaign contributions from it.
Those purposes would have been served if Republicans had voted to block consideration of the Udall amendment, as Sen. Reid expected. Then Democrats could send out a fund raising appeal attacking Republicans for blocking campaign finance reform, move on to other insincere, hypocritical gestures to fire up the base.
Instead, Democrats were forced to spend a week debating a measure they knew was going nowhere. With only a week remaining before recess, it will be very difficult now for Democrats to get votes on bills to raise the federal minimum wage, and to encourage gender equity on payrolls in the private sector.
"(Republicans) know we're getting out of here fairly shortly and they want to prevent discussion on other very important issues," Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt, said sourly.
Charles Koch isn't among the top 100 individual donors for 2014; David is 83rd. Of the 82 who've given more than David Koch, 41 - including the top 2 - gave primarily or exclusively to Democrats.
The 20 largest political action committees so far have spent $344.3 million on behalf of Democrats, $106.1 million to support Republicans. The biggest spender among Super PACs (a type of political action committee which may raise and spend unlimited funds) has been Sen. Reid's Senate Majority PAC.
The bills which got short shrift while the Udall amendment was being debated are also hypocritical gestures to bamboozle the base.
The bill to raise the minimum wage is just a campaign gimmick, Ralph Nader said. Red State Dems don't want it to pass, because it would kill too many jobs.
The gender equity bill is a toothless gesture to win votes from women who don't realize there already are laws on the books to require equal pay for equal work. It's also a brazen exercise in hypocrisy. Women in the Obama White House are paid significantly less than men. Two thirds of Democrat senators pay female staffers less than men. In a dozen Democrat offices, the gender pay gap is larger than the fictitious gap they claim exists in the private sector.
If I were part of the Democrat base, I'd be offended the leaders of my party think I can be manipulated so easily by a few insincere, hypocritical gestures, and I'd reflect on why they're so confident I can be.