Friday, January 27, 2006

Dems Need to Stop Rolling Over

Maureen Dowd wrote a column in the January 18, 2006 New York Times entitled "Looking for a Democratic Tough Guy, or Girl." As usual, it was a well written article and made the point that if "the Democrats are like the dithering 'Desperate Housewives,' the Republicans have come across like the counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer on '24': fast with a gun, loose with the law, willing to torture in the name of protecting the nation. Except Jack Bauer is competent."

Oh, Maureen, how right you are, and as someone who is a Democrat and loves his party along with his country, it pains me to acknowledge the truth of that analogy. Ms. Dowd is aobut the 5th columnist or so within the past couple of weeks that has made largely the same point about Democrats. We have a platform, and we do have ideas, but damned if anyone can articulate them.

Everyone seems to know the formula, but no one's offering something that would work. I think we need someone to stand up to Bush and his thugs and say, "NO, Mr. President, you are WRONG. We Democrats do NOT have a 'pre-9/11' view of the world. We are painfully aware of the dangers that terrorism and despotism pose to this country and its freedoms. Where YOU and YOUR PARTY are deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong is your insistence that in order to protect American lives and freedom, we must destroy those very liberties that make America unique. You want to save us by destroying us. You have demonstrated time and again that you will lie or finagle facts and laws in order to get your way. You will pound our civil liberties into an unrecognizable pulp in order to 'protect' us. We Democrats will not cower in the face of any threat to this nation. What we will do when we regain power is attempt to rebuild the shattered credibility and alliances that you have destroyed. We will work with our partners across the world, but we will not dictate to them nor will we sacrifice what's good for this country. If doing what is right for America means we tell our partners and allies, 'Sorry, but this what is best for the US and here's why we must go this route' we will do so. We will not be soft, but we will also not destroy what makes this nation great. We will not destroy our civil liberties in order to 'protect' them. We will work with Congress to pass laws that will make tracking terrorists easier while respecting the rights of Americans. This is something you do not respect Mr. President. Your actions have showed time and again that when it comes to doing what you decide is the correct path, you will let nothing...not the Constitution, not laws, not Congress, not the Courts, nor public opinion stop you. You are reckless, Mr. President, and that places us in more danger in the long run than any of your actions to stop further terrorist attacks has saved us. It's time for the recklessness and disregard for laws, treaties, and civil rights to stop. That's why Democrats need to regain power."

Alas, I don't know if there is such a leader in the Democratic Party right now. John Kerry seems to have found a spine in Europe, rushing back to DC to lead the filibuster against Alito along with Senator Ted Kennedy. Of course, it doesn't stand a chance of succeeding, but it would be nice if the filibuster was sustained once before being overtuned by 60 senators voting cloture. I don't think that will happen, but at least the Democrats will have tried SOMETHING to derail Alito. And when Alito is on the Court and voting for opinions are radical right wing readings of the Constitution, we can remind the country who is at fault....the GOP.

So far, the Democratic Hall of Shame for promising to vote "aye" on Alito's confirmation has three names: Robert Byrd (WV), Ben Nelson (NE), and Tim Johnson (SD). Now Nelson, I understand. He comes from a deeply red state and he's up for re-election this year. I can begrudgingly give him a pass on this, although I'd hope that verbally he'd blast the President for putting forward ideologues, albeit a qualified ideologue. I know, I know...but a guy can dream! Johnson and Byrd I just don't understand. I guess Byrd is in more trouble with his re-election campaign than previously thought. I was surprised to learn that Nixon once sought to appoint him to the Supreme Court. Tim Johnson doesn't face the public until 2008, but I guess what happened to Daschle made him pee in his pants. His statement in support of Alito clearly stated he would not have picked Alito, but that he was "mindful" of the 96 votes for confirmation that Ginsberg got in 1993. I guess supporting Alito is payback for the support in 1993? Who knows? I just know that Tim Johnson, whom we all fought so hard to keep in the Senate in 2002, has just spit in the face of progressives everywhere who care about fairness and justice...and unlike Byrd and Nelson, he doesn't have a tough reelection campaign this year as an excuse.

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