As GOP senators drop out, the wild hope grows: Could the Democrats get a filibuster-proof Senate? If so, and if the party took the White House and kept the House, then at last the progressives would have the keys to the car. This would not be like 1992, but more like 1964.
Of course it's wrong -- too early -- to indulge in such fantasy. But if it does happen, here are three cautions I would give:
Why put worker rights in trade bills? At first glance they seem toothless. In the past, when these rights made it into trade bills, the signing countries just had to "strive to ensure" the rights. Now congressional Democrats are crafting a new, tougher trade bill for Panama and Peru with language that would flat-out ensure work-er rights.
Here's the question of the day: Can the United States ever ratify a treaty, be it Kyoto or the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC), and take its rightful place in the governance of the world? Not likely -- unless we give up the anachronism of ratifying treaties. Let's just ignore the Treaty Clause (Article II, section 2, clause 2) of the U.S. Constitution: "[The president] shall have Power … with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur …"
Congress is trying to come up with measures for determining which immigrants should be citizens. In the bill currently being hashed out in the Senate, we would "rate" immigrants on things like home ownership, savings, and the like. Isn't that nice? We would write off the kitchen help, the maids, the day laborers, and the working poor who can't get in unions -- or worse, we'd push them into the home ownership messes that too many other Americans are now in. Indeed, it takes some nerve to push "home ownership" on future citizens, a month or so after the Supreme Court effectively struck down every existing state law against predatory lending.
College kids write papers now on how we got into Iraq. Or so it is with my friend's daughter. She's supposed to write a paper on one of the neocons. Which one should she pick? There's Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank. Doug Feith is writing a book. There's all the people at The Weekly Standard. There's also Robert Kagan, who wrote Of Paradise and Power, and his brother Fred Kagan, the think-tank guy who pushed the "surge."
My friend thinks his daughter should do Feith -- he's obscure enough, no one's doing him. And there's a case for doing Feith.