Tuesday, May 18, 2004
This is beautiful: The Senate last week narrowly turned back an effort to further extend unemployment benefits. The required 60-vote threshold was not quite met as the final vote came in at 59-40. There are 100 senators. One did not vote. His name is John Kerry. He was out campaigning for president, instead of doing the job he is paid to do.
The media, which can do simple math figured that if Kerry had been present the 60-vote threshold would've been achieved and one of the Democrats' favorite things -- more weeks of unemployment benefits would be attained.
Well, it turns out that the vote wouldn't nearly have been that close.
The extension needed 60 votes to pass in the Senate, and 12 Republicans made sure the final tally was 59-40, with only one absentee, presidential candidate Kerry.
At least one Republican senator, Elizabeth Dole (N.C.), was prepared to switch to a “no” vote to make sure the measure was defeated even if Kerry returned to cast his vote, a Democrat charged.
Even if Dole had stood firm, observers on both sides believe the GOP leadership would have been able to turn other Republicans to ensure defeat.
But by calculating the vote to a nicety, the GOP managed to make Kerry appear to be responsible for the defeat because he was a no-show.
The Democrats say they suspect the Republicans engineered the one-vote margin, and the incident underlines how both parties are expected to use the legislature to tarnish their opponents.
Score one for the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy!
Of course, Kerry could avoid similar pitfalls in the future if he resigned his Senate seat -- a la Bob Dole. (Don't hold your breath.)