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View Diary: Caltagirone Decision To Back Republicans Throws House Into Chaos (220 comments)

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  •  Jim Jeffords pulled a fast one on VT voters (3+ / 0-)
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    bartman, ca democrat, I

    when he declared himself independent and said he'd be voting with the Democrats. Less than half a year into his term. I'm sure everyone here was fine with that, but it had the exact same result: putting the Senate into the hands of what at his election was still the "opposition."

    It sucks when the shoe's on the other foot, but I just don't see any real legislative remedy here. (Gosh, does that make me a "conscience troll"? New flavor! New flavor!)

    •  I Reviewed Jeffords' Book (10+ / 0-)

      I reviewed the book Jeffords wrote about his decision for  In my review, I compared Jeffords decision with a similar decision made by Rep. Tom Stish of Hazleton to turn the House over to the Republicans after winning as a Democrat, noting that similar factors applied in both cases.

      I believe that the principled thing to do when one finds the other political party more attractive than one's own is to resign as a member of the original party, and then seek re-election as a member of the new party.  Senator Phil Gramm of Texas did that in the House, and then launched a long and successful career as a Republican.

      Being deceptive is not an act of principle.  Telling the truth about one's beliefs when the public has the chance to act upon it is an act of principle.

      Progressive Democrats have done a lot of good for our country in the past, and can do a lot more in the future. Let's keep going strong.

      by State Rep Mark Cohen Dem PA on Sat Dec 30, 2006 at 07:56:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Gramm's switch came later. Deceit came first. (9+ / 0-)

        Here's how Wikipedia summarizes it (emphasis added):

        In 1981, Gramm attended Democratic Caucus budget meetings and then secretly shared their strategy with Republicans to help pass newly inaugurated President Ronald Reagan's budget. In response, the House Democratic leadership stripped him of his seat on the committee. Following this action, Gramm resigned his House seat, forcing a mid-term special election. Gramm ran in that election to fill the vacancy that he had created, but as a Republican.

        I do not mean to be disagreeable, but I can't endorse the idea of Phil Gramm as a principled legislator.

      •  But Jeffords didn't switch parties. (1+ / 0-)
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        ca democrat

        And there was already a negotiated agreement in place to govern the transfer of power in the Senate in the case of a shift in the balance. That's not always the case in the Senate, as I learned in researching the background of the current situation with Sen. Tim Johnson.

        Normally, the Senate's organizing resolution makes no provision for a change in the balance of power, mid-session. And as a result, there have been instances in which the party holding a majority of seats in the chamber has nonetheless functioned as the minority.

        Jeffords' "switch" came under circumstances fully contemplated and even planned for by both sides.

        •  Very Interesting (1+ / 0-)
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          I remember hearing rumblings from Republicans about committee membership splits. As I recall, McConnell thoguht Lott negotiated a bad deal with Daschle.

          But if, as you say, there was a provision in the January agreement for a new organizing resolution upon change of membership, then it quickly becomes obvious why Republicans Senators were so willing to dump Lott after his gaffe.

          What's your source on the Daschle-Lott agreement?

        •  Non sequitur (1+ / 0-)
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          The fact that there was an agreement about what would happen in the event of a change in the partisan balance doesn't have anything to do with whether Jeffords made the right decision in triggering that agreement. Nor did that agreement specifically contemplate a party switch, as opposed to a death or resignation. Although the mechanism in the rules is slightly different in the two cases, the proximate cause and the effect are the same: One legislator, at or near the beginning of his (possibly final) term, changing the leadership of his chamber by leaving the party which had supported his election.

          The main difference I see between Caltagirone's impending switch and Jeffords's switch is not whether the possibility had occurred to party leaders beforehand, but rather that Jeffords switched because of sincere reasons of policy and principle, while Caltagirone's reason seems to have personal beef with his party's leader in the House. In the same vein, I approve of the party switches of former Southern Democrats, who clearly belong more with Republicans on substantial issues.

          •  I don't think it's a non sequitur at all. (0+ / 0-)

            I agree that there are substantive differences in the motivation of Caltagirone versus Jeffords. But I don't agree that the pre-existence of an agreement on the transition of power is unrelated to Jeffords' decision.

            His decision was, first of all, not to switch parties, but merely to leave one. Secondly, without having that agreement in place, his decision doesn't necessarily change the partisan control of the chamber at all.

            If it's the very existence of the agreement which made it possible for partisan control to change hands at all, its mention can't possibly be a non sequitur.

            •  Splitting hairs (0+ / 0-)

              The fact that Jeffords merely "left" a party, rather than "switching" is rather technical. His constituents didn't elect him with the intention that he would "leave his party and caucus with the other party and be a committee chair for the other party and allow the other party to be in the majority" any more than they elected him with the intention that he would "switch parties."

              The only way I can think of that the leadership agreement could be somehow relevant to the propriety of Jeffords's switch (I'll nix the technicality and call it a switch) would be to view it as a sort of permission slip for party switches by party leaders. However, this was clearly not the case. When the agreement on partisan control was made, there was a 97-year-old Republican senator from a state with a Democratic governor. Surely that, and not prospective partisan treason, was the reason for making an agreement.

              •  But... (0+ / 0-)

                absent the agreement, there may have been no change in partisan control, no matter what happened.

                So it can't be a non sequitur.

                •  The agreement's existence works against Jeffords (0+ / 0-)

                  Supposing arguendo that Lott would have remained majority leader absent the agreement, that hardly makes Jeffords's switch in the presence of the agreement more noble. Had Jeffords switched without the agreement and thus put himself into the minority, one might call it principled in a self-sacrificing kind of way. The thing that really makes a switch questionable in the first place is that it affects the rest of the country (or in Caltagirone's case the state) by switching the whole chamber.

                  •  Someone mentioned nobility? (0+ / 0-)

                    I'm talking about the "non sequitur."

                    Aside from that misnomer, though, it's the agreement that works the change in partisan control, not the switch by itself. Absent the agreement, the switch might mean nothing.

                    •  Yes, if not with that particular word (0+ / 0-)

                      This whole thread is fundamentally about whether "Jeffords pulled a fast one on VT voters." Other people have, in the course of this thread, used words like "principled," "deceptive," and "deceit" in an attempt to gauge whether Jeffords's action were right and how one might possibly distinguish them from Caltagirone's actions. That I, by chance, introduced another word ("noble") should be fairly unremarkable.

                      Fundamentally, you're confounding agency and instrumentality. The Lott/Daschle agreement (which filled in an apparent gap in the Senate Rules) was the instrument of the change in partisan control in 2001, just as the ordinary procedure of the Penna. House might be the instrument of the (non-)change in partisan control in 2007. The agent, which impels the change in party control, is Jeffords alone in 2001 and Caltagirone alone in 2007.

                      To see how common-sense this really is, ask yourself this: Can you find a single newspaper headline from 2001 that says "Lott and Daschle Deal Causes Senate Flip"? No. However, I'm sure you can find headlines that look something like "Jeffords Switch Causes Senate Flip."

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