Norm Ornstein, a scholar with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, looks on in bafflement at the behavior of Senate Republicans. For example, he writes in Roll Call, “I cannot fathom why they are doing what they are doing” in trying to block ratification of the START treaty:
“The failure of START in the Senate would endanger future cooperation and be a major embarrassment to (Russian President Dmitry) Medvedev and a big boost to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. It would also devastate the existing regime of inspection over nuclear arms, ramping up the danger of nukes getting into the hands of highly undesirable people and groups… The Russian willingness to work with us and the Europeans on a missile defense system will melt away if START falters.”
Ornstein is equally befuddled and appalled by the blanket refusal of Republican senators to support the DISCLOSE Act, which would require corporations to reveal the huge campaign donations made legal by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The DISCLOSE ACT would “bring sunlight to the outrageous, anonymous huge funders who played a major role in the 2010 campaigns, hiding behind the cloak of 501(c)(4)s run by groups cynically manipulating weak IRS enforcement of the law,” Ornstein writes.
“Voters support disclosure by overwhelming margins. So do Supreme Court justices — by 8-to-1. The only chance to provide it is in the lame-duck session; the bill passed the House in the 111th Congress and has zero chance of making through the 112th House. If the Senate does not act now, disclosure is dead….
So where are the previous champions of campaign finance reform? Where is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose greatest legislative accomplishment was given a sharp stick in the eye by a 5-4 decision on the Supreme Court? Where are previous supporters of reform — and professed supporters of disclosure — such as Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass.)? And most important, where is Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who has always been an independent voice, whose Snowe-Jeffords amendment to the campaign reform law was the provision most assaulted by the Citizens United case, who stood up to immense pressure from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Republican leaders in 2002 to do the right thing?….
The urgent need to raise more and more money will lead inevitably to more and more corruption, trading votes or other favors for campaign cash, or shaking down prospective donors. But disclosure at least can provide some counterweight. It will be beyond disappointing if somehow McConnell can mesmerize or intimidate every one of the erstwhile reformers above to ignore their principles.”
Mr. Ornstein, prepare to be profoundly, repeatedly disappointed. As these and other examples demonstrate, congressional Republicans have no interest in governing — they don’t even have much interest in politics as it is normally understood. They have convinced themselves and their followers that the continued presence of Barack Obama in the White House represents a danger so fundamental to the country’s future that fighting him justifies ignoring every other problem put together, from national security to open elections to the economy, and they are intent on acting on that belief.
This is a holy war, and it’s going to get ugly in ways that even now are difficult to fully imagine.