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Ken Salazar, Bipartisanship and Obstructionism

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I read a story in yesterday’s Denver Post that brought an ironic smile to my mouth.  During his time as Colorado’s Senator, I bristled at then-Sen. Ken Salazar’s consistent political maneuvering toward the mythical “moderate middle”.  While he didn’t run as a progressive candidate (as plenty of other bloggers and activists I talked to pointed out), Sen. Salazar made what I considered to be a number of votes that I and many others characterized as very pro-corporate and anti-civil rights.  We tried for his entire time as a Senator to vote the way a majority of Coloradans and Americans wanted – to no avail.  He was more interested in playing political games in the footsteps of his Senatorial mentor, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

Thus, in some ways it amuses me to read that now-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is fuming after he was handed a significant political defeat after the same people he spent his time in the Senate appeasing decided to pay him back by continuing to hold the nomination of the deputy secretary of the Interior back from a vote.  What is pathetic is Sec. Salazar made a number of concessions to Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT) regarding a review of the decision to revoke 77 oil and gas leases near two national parks in southern Utah before he [Sen. Bennett] removes his hold on David Hayes.  Yet even with those concessions, Sen. Bennett continued to ask his colleagues to hold the nomination.

This is exactly the kind of thing that I wrote about many times when Ken was a Senator.  He can’t reach bipartisan agreement with the current political opposition – they have no interest in bipartisanship.  It’s either their way or no way.  There are no negotiations or concessions they are willing to offer on issues.  Salazar failed to learn this valuable lesson as a Senator and now it’s holding the work of the Interior Department back.  Sen. Bennett now has in his pocket all of the things Sec. Salazar told him he’d give him.  In return, Sec. Salazar has nothing of what Sen. Bennett told him he’d give him.  The oil and gas corporations rule Utah politics, as they do in too many instances across the country.  Sec. Salazar now represents a direct threat to their assumed way of doing things – as he has reversed numerous Bush-era Interior Department decisions.  Sec. Salazar had better figure out a method to get the things done he wants done – whether the oil and gas industry is pleased with those actions or not – whether Sen. Bennett and other Con obstructionists are pleased with those actions or not.

I’m not sure what Sec. Salazar hopes to accomplish by railing to the corporate media about this problem.  The corporate media didn’t have a problem carrying Bush’s water when it came to incorrectly relating to the American people the process of confirming Bush’s nominees.  A record number of nominees were approved by the Congress, even the Senate, which was ostensibly under Democratic control for a number of them.  Keep in mind this happened after Senate Cons held up nearly 100 Clinton nominees – posts went unfilled for years due to Con obstructionism.  Democrats tried playing the nice-guy role in return – and got blasted for it in the corporate media because they wouldn’t release their holds on fewer than 10 Bush nominees.   Even this Post article doesn’t give readers a good idea of what’s really going on – it’s more “he-said, she-said” b.s.  Why are newspapers failing?  Gee, I just can’t figure it out.  But now Sec. Salazar is getting a taste of Con obstructionism when it comes to something he really wants.  I’d be sympathetic towards him, but Democratic activists didn’t get much sympathy when he was appeasing these obstructionists all those years.  It would have been better for everybody if Salazar had seen them for what they really are back then.


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