Monday, December 6, 2010

Pretexts, Reliability, Etc.

Greg Sargent on "don't ask, don't tell":

Right now, the outstanding question is whether Reid will schedule enough time for floor debate and amendments to remove Senator Susan Collins' final pretext for saying she'll vote No on cloture for the Defense Authorization Bill containing repeal. Collins has signaled she will support repeal if that time is allotted.

It remains unclear precisely how much time Collins will deem sufficient. But presumably Senate Dem leaders can ask Collins privately how much floor debate time she needs. And if her reply is not too unreasonable, they can give it to her...

Dems will quite rightly protest that Collins has not always proven the most reliable of negotiating partners. They will argue that even if the Dem leadership does give Collins what she wants, she could pull the football away again. So why bother?

I'm very sympathetic to this argument. But ultimately, this comes down to a choice: Do we want there to be some chance that repeal passes this year, or no chance at all?

As unreliable as Collins has been in the past, it's not unreasonable to assume that this is one issue where she does want to vote Yes...

My worry is that Dem leaders think that if they schedule just a few days of floor debate, and Collins balks, they'll be able to blame her unreasonableness for the failure of DADT repeal. If they do that, they will have a plausible case. The only problem will be that DADT will remain in place.

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