Profiles in courage: Senate Dems wimp out, vote "present" as Green New Deal gets zero votes

Predictable, but no less cuckish for being so.

The vote Tuesday was 0-57 with 43 Democrats voting present, including the Senate’s half-dozen presidential candidates, to sidestep the GOP maneuver and buy time to build their campaign positions…

“I could not be more glad that the American people will have the opportunity to learn precisely where each one of their senators stand on this radical, top-down, socialist makeover of the entire U.S. economy,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said before the vote.

President Donald Trump met Tuesday with Senate Republicans at the Capitol, and Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said afterward the president told them regarding the Green New Deal, “make sure you don’t kill it too much because I want to run against it” in 2020.

Dems voting no with the GOP were Joe Manchin, Doug Jones, Kyrsten Sinema, and Angus King. All others voted present, raising an obvious question: Why? Right, sure, the bill had no hope of passing, and Democrats from more purple states had a political incentive not to vote yes even if they didn’t want to risk pissing off the left by voting no. But why wouldn’t the 2020 crop vote yes? A candidate who’d taken no position on the legislation obviously wouldn’t want to commit to it knowing how the price tag might be used against them in the general election. But they’ve all endorsed it. Klobuchar went so far as to say a few weeks ago that she would vote yes on the legislation in principle even though she views it as mostly “aspirational.”

So McConnell gave her a chance today. She voted present.

Vox explains, or tries to explain, the Democratic reasoning:

As the thinking goes, if only part of the Democratic caucus wound up backing the idea, Republicans could argue that it didn’t actually have enough support from the party. They could also suggest that 2020 Senate Democrats — all of whom have expressed support for the proposal — weren’t actually down to follow through, if they didn’t vote in favor of it. Additionally, the move was aimed at putting Democrats from more moderate states in a tough position, forcing them to choose between backing a popular liberal idea and potentially turning off some of their constituents.

Wouldn’t a split vote have been good for Democrats, though? Let the 2020 crop and blue-state Dems vote yes, let the purple- and red-staters vote no. Progressives would have grumbled a bit about the latter, but at the end of the day they realize they’re better off with Manchin or Sinema occupying their seats than they are by primarying them and having that primary challenger get blown out by a Republican in the general election. The fact that four centrist Dems did in fact vote no today means that Republicans *can* claim that Democrats are divided on the proposal. In which case, why didn’t Bernie et al. seize the opportunity to brand themselves as proud Green New Dealers by voting yes?

One Dem strategist offered this to Bloomberg: “It’s one thing to be on the campaign trail and say here is what I believe in and fill in the details. It’s another thing to go on record and let other people fill in the details for you.” Right, but that’s going to happen anyway to some extent. Republicans will hang all the wackiest aspects of the proposal around the necks of Democrats who’ve endorsed it whether or not they voted yes today and whether or not they offer their own variations on the GND on the trail. Endorsing the bill while voting present is like trying to be half-pregnant. The best case for declining to vote yes, I think, is just to protest the fact that McConnell introduced the bill despite having no interest in passing it or even holding committee hearings on it.

Although even then, who cares what McConnell wants? If you support it, just vote yes and flip him the bird.

Watch this clip. Does this look like a party that’s going to cut Dems who’ve endorsed the bill a break just because they technically didn’t vote yes today?