CAFTA just passed, 217-215. 15 Democrats voted with the bad guys, while 20 Republicans joined the angels. A few things:
• Odds are this wasn't really a tied vote. David Sirota is telling us to think of each dissenting Dem as the deciding defection, but it's more likely that the Republicans had a few more last-case yes's who were allowed to vote no so long as their "aye" wasn't needed to pass the bill. If DeLay can pass the bill while exempting weak Republicans in trade-decimated areas, all the better.
• Nevertheless, screw those Democrats who defected.
• This is, even with passage, a sign of serious weakness for the right. That a run-of-the-mill trade bill cleared with a mere single vote despite the easy Republican majority shows how much weaker party discipline has become in their caucus. That it passed with only 15 Democratic defections is a sign of how much stronger our caucus unity has gotten.
• It also proves Sam's argument that the right consciously crafts bills that won't attract Democratic support so they can further cut Democrats off from business donations. The Republican attack on Democratic funding is one of the most underreported political stories of the last few years. It's systematic, it's smart, and it'd be working, too, if not for all you meddling small donors!
• We put up a hell of a fight. We put up a hell of a fight over a bill that wasn't much in the news and that won't have a major economic impact. We put up a fight because it was a bad bill crafted in a partisan way that will further weaken Central American labor standards and spread the wrong sort of race-to-the-bottom free trade. That we were able to make them sweat it out on this is highly impressive, particularly considering where we were a few short years ago.
• We should hang this around their necks in 06. See which districts have been hit the worst by outsourcing and pound them with flyers, leaflets, and ads about their representative's gutless vote to undermine American workers with Central American sweatshops.