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“Cooperate with Republicans?!  I’d sooner …..”

Maida Coleman, senate minority leader, knows how bitter some of the Democrats are about the way they were treated last spring.  Whenever they felt duty bound to filibuster something truly horrific, like MOSTEALA, the Republicans used a rare tactic called Moving the Previous Question (PQ) to end debate.  What was used only seven times in thirty years (from 1970-2005) was used three time last spring.  Democrats are … well, they’re pissed off.  Senate minority floor leader, Maida Coleman puts it more delicately:

“Based on conversations, I already know that some Democratic legislators are still feeling what occurred during the regular session,” Ms. Coleman told the News-Press. “They’re still concerned and disappointed about the Republican leadership’s way of conducting business.”

But then gets earthier:

“My hope is … we’ll get out without too much blood being let.”

Charlie Shields, senate majority leader, sounding almost apologetic, offered his explanation for the frequent use of the PQ last spring:

“Clearly there have been more PQs (previous questions) than in recent years, which I think is directly a function of term limits,” Mr. Shields said, noting a third of the current senators are in their final terms. “That creates some problems.”

He said he believed strong relationships between legislators during pre-term-limit days prevented the abuse of both political tactics.

If not being on friendly terms is the culprit, freshman senator Jolie Justus says some of the senators have been working on that and describes how a group of them last spring revived the tradition of hitting a local watering hole on Thursday evenings for a no politics, just socializing good time.  They had crowds of 30-50. 

Maybe such abundant good cheer
Will kill the PQ habit next year?

Or not. 

Larry Handlin has a different explanation about PQ.  He wrote:

Really, the difference in the Lege now and then is that there aren’t a bunch of conservative Democrats that operated in the middle of the parties, and so the partisan divide is much larger, meaning use PQ is about the only way to get things through the Senate that are a problem.

Are there lots of grains of truth in that idea?  You tell me.

As long as we’re speculating, I’ll offer another possibility.  Republicans aren’t in the habit of controlling the reins of government, and when, every few decades, they get the bit between their teeth, they just don’t turn out to be nice people.  In a recent posting about Rove’s departure, I mentioned that FDR only mentioned the Democratic party three times in his entire 1936 election campaign.  Despite having large Democratic majorities, he always governed in a bipartisan fashion.  Compare that with Rove’s divisive strategy of stomping on Democrats at every turn. 

Maybe the current crop of Republicans is just worse than its predecessors.  And maybe I wouldn’t be so harsh on them if I had been tagging along to the karaoke bars on Thursday nights in Jeff City.