It was pretty cool, really. There were Charley on the MTA and I, your humble Blue Mass. Groupers, on a conference call with about eight other blogger types (including real fancy ones like MyDD’s Chris Bowers, Mr. Liberal Oasis, and Mr. Daou report). And then on comes Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) himself! Kennedy spoke for about ten minutes on what he sees as the Republicans’ abuse of power in the Senate, total lack of accountability, and general arrogance, focusing in particular on the nucular option. Then he took about twenty minutes of questions from us. Charley and I are comparing notes and will try to get a more detailed summary of the call up shortly.
Part of the reason for reaching out to the netroots is that Senator Kennedy’s office has set up a new website called TedKennedy.com. Kennedy hopes to use the site (which includes a blog) as, among other things, the internet clearinghouse for opposition to Bush’s more extreme judicial nominations – at present, the site features a petition to oppose anti-environmentalist, tool-of-corporate-interests, and no-relevant-experience nominee William Myers (who has been nominated for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals). If you, like me, are still on John Kerry’s email list, you probably just got an email urging you to sign the petition at the TedKennedy website.
After the conference call ended, I emailed this follow-up question:
One risk that I can see is that the public will perceive the filibuster rule as "inside baseball," and they will perceive shutting down the Senate as an overreaction, like Gingrich shutting down the government a decade ago. So there is a risk of backlash against the Democrats – the "party of obstruction," etc. Is there a Democratic strategy to explain to the public why the filibuster is important enough to risk bringing the Senate’s business to a halt?
Senator Kennedy responded as follows:
It is possible the message has not come across as clear as it should. The truth of the matter is that Republicans will have shut down the Senate. If they move forward with the nuclear option, they will have breached the basic premise that the Senate was established with. They will have violated the trust of Americans by rewriting the rules to fit their current needs ? and if Republicans continue that way, it will lead to the shutting down of the Senate.
Sounds to me like the Dems are serious. Good. Give ’em hell, Ted.