And no, I’m not just talking about torture, although frankly, the fact that Senator Durbin has to call for an investigation into whether something that is pretty much universally known as torture was done with the knowledge and approval by the President of the United States is beyond disgraceful. The parsing of whether waterboarding is or isn’t torture because the lying and not-yet-convicted felon Alberto Gonzales (or John Ashcroft if he had anything to do with this) said that it wasn’t torture is one of the most cowardly and shameless assertions I have ever heard.
Reid allowed subpoenas to be ignored by administration members and didn’t follow up with any call for accountability. Pelosi allowed subpoenas to be ignored by administration members and didn’t follow up with any call for accountability. The PR battle over the nonsensical "surge working" hasn’t only been lost by the Democrats, it wasn’t even fought all that much by leadership – which could be another lie that leads to a President McCain.
Reid allowed a vote to condemn MoveOn – an entity that has been entirely supportive of the Democratic Party over the years, and then inexplicably had Rush Limbaugh praised officially on the Senate floor by republicans when his comments insulted the troops who were actually fighting this clusterfuck in Iraq. As for Iraq itself, well how many tens of billions were pledged under Reid and Pelosi’s leadership over the past year? And what kind of constraints were put on these blank checks? On a similar note, how does an inflammatory bill like Kyl/Lieberman get to the Senate floor, let alone pass – especially since we now know from the NIE how much of a threat Iran isn’t to us?
A FISA law needed a technical correction, and yet, we now are faced with expanded and illegal powers by this administration to continue breaking the law. And on top of that, when two bills are prepared that would fix the technical issue, one allowing for retroactive immunity for telecom companies that willfully broke the law to help this administration break the law and one without such immunity, what bill does Reid bring to the floor? The one that allows for retroactive immunity, and a kick in the teeth to the fourth amendment, not to mention We the People.
With republicans setting the world record for filibusters in one year (with absolutely no pushback) and the asinine "we need 60 votes for anything" suddenly becoming the new rule, who does Reid stick it to on a filibuster? His own damn party – brave folks and true leaders like Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold. When republican Senators put holds on bill after bill, Reid respects the hold. But whenone of his own party does the same, he overrides it.
Back in January 2007, Pelosi declared that there was a "new Congress in town". And yes, there have been some successes in legislation. She passed the "100 hours promise" to her credit. But when it comes to accountability and standing up for the Constitution, where has she been? What happened to those investigations into the US Attorney firings? What happened to the investigations into the "missing" emails? What happened to oversight?
A budget that is more than $3 trillion has been submitted. Billions more for Iraq not included or paid for. Major cuts to social security, Medicare and many other domestic programs. Huge increases for "defense". Cuts to programs that aid seniors. More tax cuts for the wealthy. Fuzzy math on the AMT, which is already such a joke that it hits people hard (even with the "patch") who just have a job and own a home. Of course, this can all be rejected, but it does show that Mister Bush is still acting in the same manner as he has for the past 7 years and is not about to shy away from that "cataclysmic fight to the death" that we were warned about a little more than a year ago.
None of this is excusable; none is explicable except by resulting to psychological categories, specifically Stockholm Syndrome. This conversation has been going on in the Democratic party since the dread day George McGovern became the party's nominee, and it's now continued by the still-mournful descendants of the people killed in the Great Galloping Fantods Epidemic of '73.
If we borrow the name of the scourge from one of the Hannibal Clemenses--no finer family than the Hannibal Clemenses!--we might also recognize that he described as well what came to be regarded as the cure--the Cat has refused to sit on that stove lid, regardless of temperature, for almost forty year'. The remarkable thing about that being that the event was perfectly sandwiched by its refutation--the massive defeat of Goldwater in '64 and the ascension of his former henchman in 1980.
And the Democrats caved. The Democratic Congress, certainly more liberal, or classically liberal, than the one we're saddled with today, just caved. The Press donned letter sweaters and grabbed pom-poms.
People forget--or willfully forget, or don't know--that this came after a decade of terrible economic shocks to an America which had ridden high as the only economically-sound survivor of WWII, and, like many a serious reversal in one's high opinion of oneself a major chunk of the reaction was a sort of quasi-religious fugue state: 1) The intended Order of the Universe has been reversed! 2) This must be due to insufficient obeisance to Him. 3) The best way to atone is by returning to That Happier Time, the 1950s. 4) Hey, that's what that guy with the dyed hair has been going on about! 5) And let's kill all those Middle East fuckers with the oil while we're at it. Double-digit inflation year after year; Reagan wasn't seen as the Light at the End of the Tunnel, but a desperate roll of the dice while we were down to The Rent.
The Fed tightened the money supply. We underwent an intentional recession in order to bring down inflation. The timing was awful for Carter. It was almost awful for Reagan, who, despite the good will generated by his surviving an assassination attempt and ruddy good ER quipitude, was not exactly soaring in the polls in '82. The Fed's action eventually worked, and Reagan was given the credit because the shim-shammery and flim-flammery about tax cutting and Supply Side Lootanomics and everything wrong being Jimmy Carter's doing drowned out reality. Reagan then crushed Fritz Mondale on the strength of two years of economic recovery after twelve years of Bad News.
This is not to say Reagan doesn't deserve credit for putting together the coalition of Democrats--the same party which had kneecapped Jimmy Carter and would (novus ordo saeclorum, dude!) do the same in 1993--who helped push through his miracle economic program of Rising All Yachts. It is to say that the timing, and the patter, trumped Ideas, just as today they seem to shine more brightly than Results.
Democrats ran scared, and they're still running scared today, like a line of sheep jumping over a log that's already been removed from their path. If this was defensible at all it was defensible only as a theory of electability, not an intellectual rallying cry or a sensible strategy, and, if we may point out, one which has proved remarkably effective, providing the Republicans have nominated an unpopular incumbent not well-liked by his own party, or a geriatric with a first-person-pronoun deficiency not well-liked by his own party, or have fucked up everything they've touched, utterly and irredeemably, a condition which gives Democrats a 50/50 shot. That is, this centrism has effected the same electoral results that Standing Very Quietly, reviving the Free Silver Movement, or becoming the party of Free Internet Porn would have.
The Republicans never hesitated to take advantage of whatever electoral advantage they received. If Nixon was more sui generis than Fluoridation Righty, he was still an old Red-baiter who came to office on the Lawn Order ticket, a sort of homogenized, sanitized, and nationalized version of States' Rights. Gingrich would lead a Revolution! twenty-five years later, one which owed practically everything to 1) Nixon's Southern Strategy, and 2) The Press' willingness to repeat Revolution! over and over again without cracking up. It was a Revolution! that ate, not its young, but rare Prime Rib on the taxpayers' dime, found a soft landing spot on a PAC or three, and handed the whole thing over to Tom DeLay, the Joseph Hazelwood of Ratfucking.
Ideas! The Democrats seem to have but one, and that's that they'd really like all this to go away so they can get back to not thinking about it. I have one, too: that the next President of the United States could use his or her power on the first full day in office to appoint Blue Ribbon commissions to investigate the US link to Saddam Hussein, to the Saudis, to the remarkably coincidental release of US hostages in Iran, to the eight-year attempt to get Bill Clinton, war profiteering in Iraq, and voting irregularities in the 2000 and 2004 elections and beyond. Or put it in the Inaugural address. I'm flexible.