In case you missed it, Peter St. Onge of the Charlotte Observer editorial page explains this morning (in fairly polite terms) the bottom-of-the-barrel move by Senate leaders yesterday to combine non-controversial, bipartisan criminal justice legislation with the House’s extreme anti-abortion bill:
“Why add two good bills on sex crimes to one bad and unrelated bill on abortion? Because now, when Democrats vote against the abortion bill, they’ll also be voting against tighter rules on sex offenders and statutory rapists. You can imagine the TV ads the next time one of those Democrats faces a Republican election challenge.
That might not have much impact in North Carolina’s many gerrymandered, non-competitive districts, but it could be particularly effective in a statewide race, such as when a Democrat runs for Roy Cooper’s soon-to-be-vacant attorney general seat.”
As I sat in the committee room and watched the who debacle unfold yesterday, however, it seemed to me that there was another factor clearly art work: Senate conservative leaders pulled this creepy move because they could; because they’ve got absolute power and they enjoy exercising it to humiliate their adversaries. Indeed, the Senate’s chief enforcer, Senate Rules Committee chair Tom Apodaca, stood at the side of the committee chair for the entire hour helping to orchestrate the meeting. At one point, when a Democrat spoke up without seeking permission from the chair to talk, Apodaca — a non-committee member — interjected to tell him he was out of order.
Whatever their reasons for acting like they do — payback for perceived slights from years ago, ideological extremism, bogus, insecurity-bred machismo or just plain meanness — yesterday’s kangaroo committee meeting made plain that the folks running the North Carolina Senate have no real interest in governing. Their only objective at this point is total political victory over anyone who stands in their way.