Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Feingold Blocks Bill to Honor Reagan

Here's an item that could be in one of those silly Facebook games: Things I Love That Everybody Else Hates. Meaning, of course, the congressional practice of attaching ostensibly unrelated amendments to bills before the House or Senate, and the gamesmanship around that practice. In this case, it's Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) blocking a Republican bill to commemorate Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday.

It may just be about the procedural pragmatism of moving legislation by attaching it to another, more popular bill; that happens all the time. However -- and forgive me if I'm adding two and two and getting five -- I think I see a subtext.

Feingold’s amendment would establish two commissions to study the internment and restrictions of German and Italian Americans and Jewish refugees during World War II, and it is unrelated to the Reagan bill. The Reagan measure would establish a commission to plan federal and state celebrations around Reagan’s centennial birthday in February 2011.
I suspect it may not be totally unrelated, although the connection is a subtle one. It's about history, and who gets to shape it. The Reagan presidency, like our treatment of ethnics during WWII, is a dark chapter in our history. It would be better off forgotten than viewed through the rose-colored glasses conservatives have provided us with their relentless, partisan revisionism.