Friday, June 20, 2008

Democrats: Rolling on their Backs and Pissing Themselves

By: Harry Waisbren

It has been very hard for me to follow, much less write about, the Democratic capitulation to telecom cash and Whitehouse demands. This has been an issue I have followed in extreme detail since last August, long before I wrote an article praising our very own Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) for being one of the extremely few Democrats who was not cowed by such chest thumping. I will certainly have more detailed analysis coming soon as well as plans for what we can do in Madison to prevent such atrocities to the rule of law in the future. For now, I am trying to keep my lunch down while watching the Democrats selling out their souls and their constituents by shredding the constitution.

It's not only that the Democrats gave up on this issue...I fear that they have now permanently seared the party's efforts to support the lawlessness inherrent in this imperial regime into the history books. Glenn Greenwald says it best in his analysis of this supposed "bipartisan" compromise:
In January, I compiled a list of the Great Bipartisan Compromises of the Bush era and demonstrated that they are characterized by one common attribute: namely, they are supported by almost all Republicans and then enough Democrats from a split caucus to ensure its passage. As I wrote:

But more importantly, "bipartisanship" is already rampant in Washington, not rare. And, in almost every significant case, what "bipartisanship" means in Washington is that enough Democrats join with all of the Republicans to endorse and enact into law Republican policies, with which most Democratic voters disagree. That's how so-called "bipartisanship" manifests in almost every case. . . .

On virtually every major controversial issue -- particularly, though not only, ones involving national security and terrorism -- the Republicans (including their vaunted mythical moderates and mavericks) vote in almost complete lockstep in favor of the President, the Democratic caucus splits, and the Republicans then get their way on every issue thanks to "bipartisan" support. That's what "bipartisanship" in Washington means.

That's right---the vaunted bipartisanship we always hear so much about it means nothing more than Democrats selling out their constituents to appease the big money establishment. Don't believe me? Greenwald continues by providing polling data showing a pretty disturbing state of affairs:

The Democratic Congress is more popular with Republicans than with Democrats. And that doesn't even include yesterday's events, so I'm sure the Democratic Congress will become even more popular among Republicans.

And can you blame Republicans? If I were a hard-core Bush follower -- such him or him, praising the "compromise" bill -- I would have a huge poster of Steny Hoyer or Rahm Emanuel on my wall. Unconditional, endless funding of the war. Warrantless eavesdropping. A stop to lawsuits examining Bush lawbreaking. Telecom immunity. What more could a Bush follower ask for? As Kit Bond put it: "the White House got a better deal than they even had hoped to get" -- a deal they tried but were unable to get when the Congress was controlled by Bill Frist and Denny Hastert.

So there you have it, the Democrats are an even better enabler for the Bush administration than the Republicans! So much so that Greenwald emphasizes that, "the White House had to wait until Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi took over before they could get that done. For a right-wing Bush supporter, what's not to love?"

Most disgustingly, as Greenwald chronicles in superb detail, is the fact that the Democrats do not even receive the veneer of a political boost for this. Rather, they are always depicted as the craven, cowardly, and principle-free capitulators to money and power that they are. This is so severe a problem that Sen. Kit Bond felt free to say the following:
"I'm not here to say that the government is always right, but when the government tells you to do something, I'm sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do," Bond said.

Greenwald, as he does so often, cuts to the heart of what this means for our democracy when he closes his post with this:
Today, the House leadership has set aside a grand total of one hour to debate the FISA/amnesty bill, and gave its members less than 24 hours from the time it was released yesterday until they have to vote on it today. That's the same bill which the NYT this morning calls "the most significant revision of surveillance law in 30 years." They're going to enact massive changes to our spying laws without having the slightest idea what they're voting on. All they know is that the President demanded this, and that's enough, because -- as Kit Bond says -- "when the government tells you to do something, I'm sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do." In this formulation, "the government" means "The President."

The Democratic party is willingly ceding the rule of law for some backslaps and petty telecom cash. I will be working as hard as I possibly can to undermine such efforts in the future, which is why I will be doing everything in my power to support the Strange Bedfellows campaign. The Democrats seem to have come to believe in the Nixonian principle that "when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal", and that just does not stand with me.

As much hope as I have for Obama, I do not trust him or anyone else with that kind of power. It's long past time that he weighed in on this issue, and it is absolutley disgusting that he has not yet done more to stop it.

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