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Savage: Romney Shames Biden, Rips Democrats' Filibuster Hypocrisy

Yes, we're grading on a curve. Romney's version of "savage" is a far cry from, say, a red meat-filled barnburner that would draw enthusiastic applause from the conservative base. But make no mistake: Romney brought out the big guns in his speech last evening, delivered in response to the president's atrocious speech in Georgia on so-called voting rights. In Joe Biden's demagogic, lie-filled harangue, he called for blowing up the Senate rules to solve a non-existent crisis via an unserious, totally partisan Democratic power grab. Romney replied on the Senate floor minutes later. As I noted on Twitter, the Utah Republican's remarks were guaranteed to draw jeers from each side's hardcore partisans – but they weren't the intended audience. Yes, Romney included some satisfying barbs, laying bare the utter hypocrisy of both the Democratic Party and the president himself. He also made a strong institutional case for Congress' upper chamber, as well as for the filibuster and minority rights. 


But this speech was aimed squarely at fortifying the resolve of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema as they openly resist their party's short-sighted, institution-destroying, politically-expedient collective tantrum. A secondary target of his pointed comments were wavering, reluctant Democrats who've been happy to let their aforementioned colleagues take slings and arrows while privately fretting over whether destroying more Senate precedent is a prudent path. To the chagrin of many conservatives, Romney has earned himself genuine credibility across the aisle in recent years. He famously voted for both Trump impeachments and took a leading role in supporting the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Setting aside the wisdom of any of those votes, it is now impossible for many on the center-left to casually dismiss Romney as a right-wing hack or a reflexive tribalist ideologue. He's banked a lot of "country over party" points, in very high-profile ways. He chose to deploy some of the resulting cross-aisle political capital last night. 

Even if you strongly disagree with him on Trump-related matters, you must know that Romney's decision to compare Democrats to Trump, accusing them of corroding faith in our elections must have landed like an uppercut. Grit your teeth through some of his points, if you must, but this was a superb speech, particularly considering who it was aimed at influencing: 

I had the occasion to watch President Biden as he spoke in Georgia just a few minutes ago, and he said quite a number of things that simply weren’t true. He also accused a number of my good and principled colleagues in the Senate of having sinister, even racist inclinations. He charged that voting against his bill allies us with Bull Connor, George Wallace, and Jefferson Davis. So much for unifying the country and working across the aisle...Abandoning the principle of minority empowerment would fundamentally change a distinct and essential role of the United States Senate. But today’s Democrats, now with the barest of majorities in a 50-50 Senate, conveniently ignore their own impassioned defense of the filibuster when they were in the minority.  Let us be clear that those who claim the filibuster is racist know better. For President Obama to make this absurd charge after he himself made a vigorous and extensive defense of the filibuster just a few years ago, is both jarring and deeply disappointing. After all, I don't recall a single claim from Democrats that employing the filibuster hundreds of times over the years when they were in the minority, was in any way racist...

...The country is sharply divided right now. Despite the truth spoken by a number of good people in my party, most Republicans believe Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was fraudulent, stolen by Democrats—that’s almost half the country. Can you imagine the anger that would be ignited if they see Democrats alone rewrite, with no Republican involvement whatsoever, the voting laws of the country? If you want to see division and anger, the Democrats are heading down the right road.  There is also a reasonable chance Republicans will win both houses in Congress, and that Donald Trump himself could once again be elected president in 2024. Have Democrats thought what it would mean for them—for the Democrat minority—to have no power whatsoever? And finally, Mr. President, I offer this thought: How absurd is it to claim that to save a democracy, a party that represents barely half the country must trample on the rules of our democracy’s senior institution.

These are salient points, practically designed in a laboratory to gnaw at the consciences and prudential concerns of a handful of Democrats who've retained a reservoir of independence and integrity. Romney's case was nuanced, sober, and strategic. By contrast, Biden's rant was a disgrace. The mild-mannered Rich Lowry aptly described it as a "garbage speech." The president lied about his biography. He smeared his opponents on race (cough). He totally distorted Republican-passed laws. And he blithely ignored glaring counter-points and inconvenient realities that stood in the way of his preferred narrative. It was a piece of abject demagoguery and a clumsy, stupid one at that. Think of the implications of the radical course of action Biden is urging, as also addressed by Romney above: 

Question: Beyond ham-fisted, cheap, partisan point-scoring, why did Biden deliver this diatribe in Georgia? After all, Georgia's new elections regime is much less "suppressive" than longstanding laws in Biden's home state of Delaware, where Biden was repeatedly elected – or, for that matter, the laws in New York, home to the grandstanding and shameless Senate Majority Leader. If Georgia's reforms are worse than Jim Crow, as Biden asserts (a thoroughly insulting claim), what does that make Delaware? Even after Delaware Democrats were shamed into changing their laws to combat this easy GOP rejoinder (which the president has never been asked to address, to my knowledge), Georgia's rules are considerably more "pro-voting" than Delaware's: 


"So we just wanted to make sure that there were some, from the perspective of the president, inconvenient facts that can’t be ignored, like the fact that Georgia has twice as many early voting days as his own home state of Delaware," Snead continued, noting that Georgia has been engaged in early voting "for a lot longer than Delaware." Snead said he and his group wanted to make it as hard as possible for Biden to "ignore" the facts they are bringing with them, which points out a big difference between Delaware and Georgia election law.

The game is so embarrassing and obvious that some in the mainstream press can't avoid it

It's a rhetorical question, naturally. We all know why this is the case, and it has nothing at all to do with preserving democracy. In short, Biden is abandoning his own long-held stance on the filibuster, insisting that Democrats change Senate rules in order to fundamentally uproot American election administration, all with zero Republican input, in a tied Senate. Democrats seek to supersede state-level laws across the country, eliminate popular voter ID laws and enshrine fraud-inviting "ballot harvesting" practices, among other toxic provisions. And if you disagree, President Unity intones, you're throwing in your lot with Bull Connor. What an ugly, disgusting speech. What an abject failure of a presidency. I'll leave you with Schumer's latest quasi-admission that this is all a show because they don't have the votes – plus, another fact that further unmasks the whole pretextual charade: 


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