It is time, finally, to move on. The end of the impeachment trial should serve as a marker that 2021 has finally arrived. We’ve dropped the ball long enough.
And while it remains an open question whether Republicans or, yes, the media can give up on the former president whose name shall not be mentioned, we need to learn. I mean, do we really want to keep the past four years rattling around in our brains?
Not to knock Joe Biden — there’s plenty of time for that — but it would be easier if Biden were a touch more of a command-the-room guy. People like to say we have a grownup in office now who is ready to, get this, discuss policy. That would be a change.
You-know-who doesn’t have Twitter now, and while I’m ambivalent about this as a free-speech issue — no, the First Amendment doesn’t apply — I admit it gladdens me to see that certain individuals can’t roil the nation with a never-ending series of desperate-for-attention tweets.
Nancy Pelosi just announced she wants a 9/11-style commission for what went wrong on Jan. 6. I’m for that, I guess, but not sure what it would accomplish regarding a certain former president, who, and I quote, “left everyone in this Capitol for dead.”
Meanwhile, Adam Kinzinger, one brave Republican member of the House who voted for impeachment, has not only been censured by his party but also publicly chastised by … his family. And you thought your Thanksgiving was tough.
And there are polls. Can we put a moratorium on meaningless 2024 presidential polls? Of course the guy whose name will not be mentioned is leading. All I can honk is that they went to see the old impeachment record shattered again.
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By the way, my final rankings for most obnoxious senators during the impeachment trial: 1. Ted Cruz, 2. Josh Hawley, 3. Lindsey Graham, 4. Ron Johnson, 5. Tom Cotton. I’d have included Mitch McConnell, but he’s already got a lifetime achievement award.
But, as I keep saying, we must move on. There are other things to talk about. Not the Rockies, obviously. We’re already dealing with enough bad news. The weather, also not so good. The legislature is back in session. That has to be good news, right? We missed them, right? We’re already set for a huge battle on spending in light of the economic damage from COVID. I’m always fascinated when some of the biggest fights are between the Democratic governor and the Democratic legislature.
Speaking of COVID, the numbers, still exceedingly high, are dropping precipitously. This is a good thing. Biden’s 1-million-shot-a-day promise was much too conservative, and I think we’re up to 1.5 million daily, but the distribution remains a disaster and fixing it will be difficult. Meanwhile, the variants scare us to death, and too many people, with shots or without, still go maskless and don’t socially distance. And some Republicans are criticizing data-driven Gov. Jared Polis for leaving his advisory board out of many of the key decisions on COVID, which is an interesting turnaround. So science should matter?
Meanwhile, while I want to see the schools opened as quickly as possible, it isn’t simply the teachers’ union at fault, as some would have us believe. I mean, all things being equal, there can’t be many teachers who wouldn’t rather be teaching in school than over Zoom, which is so much harder. And I just have one piece of anecdotal evidence that suggests another, larger problem. My kindergarten grandson’s school is a hybrid. You can attend if you like or you can go virtually if you prefer. Among his 20 classmates, only five are in school, meaning that their harried parents are apparently unpersuaded that it’s safe to go back. Whose failure was that and how do you change it?
OK, what else?
Oh, Congress. The Senate, which had to rush through the impeachment trial, is on recess, of course. But presumably they’ll be back to work on Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue bill, which many Republicans, who have suddenly rediscovered their inner fiscal hawkness, think is way too large. I’m guessing that most of the package will survive the bill’s writing, but it will need to be passed by reconciliation — the complex ability to occasionally, by which I mean rarely, pass a Senate bill with only 51 votes instead of the usual 60.
But then there are other major major parts of Biden’s ambitious program that will need 60 votes — immigration reform, climate change, voting rights, criminal justice reform — and it’s hard to see where he’ll find them. And if he can’t, the only solution, it seems to me, is to end the filibuster. I’m for ending it, in any case. It’s just one more anti-democratic tradition that keeps — cliche alert — the will of the people from being heard. There are dangers, of course. Without the filibuster, Republicans could have dismantled, say, Obamacare, and John McCain’s famous thumb down wouldn’t have mattered. But it’s a risk worth taking, even if at least two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, have said they strongly oppose ending the filibuster, and there are many others on the fence. But wait until the pressure mounts as bill after bill gets obstructed. I think we can count on McConnell to make this happen.
In fact, among the most important bills needed to be taken up is the new voting rights act, which would be a large step toward ensuring fairer elections. Many states are already using the 2020 Big Lie to counteract voter fraud that doesn’t exist by trying to make it harder, not easier as we have in Colorado, to vote. The proposed For the People’s Act is an anti-voter-suppression act, an-easier-to-register-to-vote act, an early-voting-guarantee act, an anti-gerrymandering act, a political-contributions-reform act. It would be the most comprehensive voting reform law since the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but it has no chance to pass with a filibuster in place.
As Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne asks, would senators rather be remembered for saving the filibuster or for saving democracy. That’s an argument worth having. And here’s the great thing: you can have the argument without once consulting your Twitter feed.
Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
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