Hard to believe that picture was taken just a year ago, isn't it?
That was the scene last December after the Red Tea Tide swept Republicans into a near-super majority in the Texas House, which Aaron Pena and Allan Ritter then gracelessly provided with their defections just days after the election.
Today, their grins have been turned into grimaces, their giddiness to dismay, their joy into depression.
Oh, they'll still be a majority in the statehouse (and nearly a super in the Texas Senate). All the new boundaries drawn by the three federal judges really do is restore Texas Democrats' electoral opportunities in 2012 to about the same 82-68 split that existed after 2008's election.
But the federal court's action -- specifically the majority of one Democrat and one Republican, both Latino -- virtually reverses the historic gains the TXGOP made in '10 ... which is why Aaron Pena is quitting, and why Greg Abbott is squalling like a colicky baby.
Earlier Friday, Abbott slammed changes proposed by the same federal panel to the congressional map in a legal filing, claiming the court overstepped its bounds. Abbott accused it of “undermining the democratic process.” [...]
“A court's job is to apply the law, not to make policy,” lawyers for the state wrote in their filing. “A federal court lacks constitutional authority to interfere with the expressed will of the state Legislature unless it is compelled to remedy a specific, identifiable violation of law.”
Abbott also said he would ask for the court to stay its congressional plan if it is not substantially changed.
If the judges refuse, Abbott said, he'll take the fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now let's get the opinion of a competent lawyer.
“You have to show irreparable harm, and it's really pretty hard to show irreparable harm in an election,” said Michael Li, an elections law expert who has been closely tracking the redistricting trial. “The state's argument is the same argument that Democrats tried to use in 2004,” which the Supreme Court rejected.
While anything's possible with the partisan and blatantly unethical conservatives on the SCOTUS, expect them to be slightly outnumbered by the remaining five prudent jurists on the basis of the precedent Li cites.
Look again at the photo at the top of this post.
Pena is out on his fat ass, Abbott (left, lower) continues to disgrace himself with woeful legal strategies, Rick Perry (rear, over Pena's shoulder) has of course shit his presidential bed, and Joe Straus (right) will draw another conservative challenge to his speakership -- but likely survive it. Only David Dewhurst (over Pena's other shoulder) still has a little light shining on his political prospects, and that may yet be endangered by the Teabagger insurgent Ted Cruz in March's primary for the US Senate.
Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to heat up some turkey and dressing leftovers to have with my heaping bowl of schadenfreude.
Update: Rachel, not as mean as she could be, points out that Democrats need to focus on what matters, and that is electing Democrats who will stand up for Democratic principles.
We see examples of people unwilling to fight for things that Democrats should be fighting for all too often and make no real effort to replace them with people who are willing to fight. We saw an instance of it just last week in the SDEC's prioritization of protecting Democratic incumbents over civil rights; a decision so short-sighted that it makes one wonder what value there is in a committee that is more concerned about the state of the Democratic Party today than the state of Texas for future generations.
As previously referenced, I will have something to say about that as soon as the warm glow of thankfulness wears off.