Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid showed his fear of losing the health care vote. He let go an outburst that was as offense as it was historically inaccurate:
Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is this:, ‘slow down, stop everything, let’s start over.’ If you think you’ve heard these same excuses before, you’re right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said, ‘Slow down, it’s too early, let’s wait, things aren’t bad enough.’ When women spoke up for the right to speak up, they wanted to vote, some insisted they simply, slow down, there will be a better day to do that, today isn’t quite right. When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats we hear today. (see video below)
Maybe Senator Reid forgets that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican Party president, or that it was the southern Democrats who were saying “slow down” to the Civil Rights legislation. That filibuster threat he was talking about was Sen. Strom Thurmond, then a Democrat, who unsuccessfully tried to filibuster the Civil Rights Act of 1957. The Civil rights act of 1964 was filibustered by Democrats.
The bill came before the full Senate for debate on March 30, 1964 and the “Southern Bloc” of southern Senators led by Richard Russell (D-GA) launched a filibuster to prevent its passage. Said Russell: “We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states.”
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That filibuster lasted until the morning of June 10, 1964, when former KKK member,Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) completed an address that he had begun 14 hours and 13 minutes earlier opposing the legislation. Until then, the measure had occupied the Senate for 57 working days, including six Saturdays. A day earlier, Democratic Whip Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, the bill’s manager, concluded he had the 67 votes required at that time to end the debate and end the filibuster. With six wavering senators providing a four-vote victory margin, the final tally stood at 71 to 29. Only 7 of the 94 Southern Democrats in the house voted for the bill. One of the 21 Southern Democrats in the senate voted for the bill.
Senator Oren Hatch rightfully said Reids speech was “extremely offensive.” (see video)
“If you go back into the civil rights debate, it was the Republicans who helped get it through. If you go back to women’s rights, Republicans have always been there,” Hatch said. “I could go on and on.”
“Harry’s a friend, but he shouldn’t have used that language,” he said, adding that it was a “slap in the face” to both Republicans and Democrats.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., suggested Reid was starting to “crack” under the pressure of the health care reform debate.
“I think it’s beneath the dignity of the majority leader,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said. “I personally am insulted.”
This is another example of how the democrats define bi-partisanship. Yesterday Reid announcement that the President would do anything to get the bill passed. Today Reid showed that he would do anything also. In a civil society we try to disagree without being disagreeable. Reid seems so desperate that he has forgotten all about civility.
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