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Friday, November 09, 2007

Giving Away the Store

Pelosi and Reid

Here's something that will be helpful for Democrats in the near future:

compromise (plural compromises)

1. settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions

See, dems don't seem to get that "mutual concessions" part. For Democrats, "compromise" and "give away the store" are synonymous. Case in point, Sen. Charles Schumer's vote to confirm Attorney General-nominee Michael Mukasey. According to Schumer, Mukasey "made clear to me [in private] that, were Congress to pass a law banning certain interrogation techniques, we would clearly be acting within our constitutional authority. And he flatly told me that the President would have absolutely no legal authority to ignore such a law, not even under some theory of inherent authority under Article II of the Constitution. He also pledged to enforce such a law and repeated his willingness to leave office rather than participate in a violation of law."

Let's assume for a moment that this makes sense and that it doesn't mean that Congress now has to go outlaw every specific type of torture that an inventive sadist can come up with. Let's pretend, just for the sake of argument, that this would be a good deal.

Democrats plan to send Bush a funding bill for war that's going to get tough with him over the Iraq war (try to keep your deja vu in check, here). Included in that bill is a provision to "require that the government rely on an Army field manual when conducting interrogations." My first question is why the Hell do you want to bundle this into a bill that's basically veto bait?

My second is, "Why didn't you see this coming, Sen. Schumer?" The Associated Press reports, "Republicans... would likely oppose applying Defense Department interrogation standards government-wide because it would limit the CIA's use of aggressive techniques against high-value terrorism suspects."

Golly, what a shock.

Schumer voted for Mukasey and got absolutely jack in return. Rather than taking Mukasey at his word and hoping he could outlaw torture, he could've taken Mukasey's comment to the White House, told the president that he'd vote for Mukasey after a stand-alone torture bill was signed into law, and actually get something for his damned vote. If Bush agreed to that deal, Republicans would be enjoying a nice hot bowl of STFU about torture right now. He could've even made a side deal with Mukasey to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate torture. That's what you call "compromise" and that's what you call "savvy politics." As it is now, Schumer accepted a deal that existed entirely within his own head and will walk away with nothing.

And that's the way the Iraq funding bill will go. Democrats will get into another funding fight with Bush and walk away emptyhanded. They've done nothing to give themselves any leverage.

Sometimes I wonder if there are any Democratic consultants who actually have degrees in political science. They seem to be all about marketing. They're investigating the living crap out of everything and getting nothing for their efforts. Sure, they got rid of Gonzales, but the abuses go on. Investigations and hearings without consequences are pointless. If you're not going to do anything about the abuses you find, then there's no reason to do anything at all. The only point seems to be to look like you're doing something. It's an ad campaign, not a defense of the Constitution, democracy, and the rule of law.

And the same goes for the Iraq war. They gave in earlier in the year, promised everyone that they'd come back later in the year, and did nothing in the meantime to lay any groundwork for the debate. There should be a months-old letter writing campaign and ads taped and ready to run specifically targeting members who are on the fence or anywhere near the fence. There should be days of scheduled testimony from Iraq war vets telling Congress we need to get the hell out. There should be testimony from Middle East and terrorism experts showing that the war is only making things worse and from insiders who say that the war was started on lies. The entire month of November should be "The War Sucks and Must End Month."

In other words, the Democratic leadership should treat this like a fight they want to win.

The war's polling as low as it ever has -- fully 68% oppose it. President Bush is less popular than Nixon ever was. And Congress's low approval lies heavier on Republicans -- dems score 29% approval in a Harris poll, while the GOP rates at 19%. 2007 has been the deadliest year of the war for US troops. If you can't do anything with that, you just plain can't do anything.

AP reports, "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he did not want to approve a spending measure for Iraq unless it forced a change in Bush's policies. When asked whether that was possible, considering the razor-thin majority Democrats hold in the Senate, Reid said it 'is up to the White House and up to the Republicans.'"

No, Sen. Reid. It's up to you. If you're relying on Bush and the GOP to end this war, you're completely delusional. It's time to either put up or shut up. Fish or cut bait. Fight or -- once again -- lie down and roll over.

It's time for congressional Democrats to prove they give a damn, because America has its doubts.


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