Sunday, July 27, 2008

What Have You Done for Me Lately?: Democrats Continue to Disappoint

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In 2006, the will of the voters was clear, we wanted change; not just any change, but an end to the Iraq War and accountability for President Bush and his cronies. We went to the polls and were vocal about the change we sought. As reported at, when questioned at the polls, voters declared they were voting “against the war,” clearly believing Democrats would deliver.

Voters also appeared to be voting for accountability and possibly for the launching of impeachment hearings as well. Polls prior to the election found that a majority of Americans believed a Democratic Congress would impeach. Candidates who campaigned on the theme of accountability, including Keith Ellison (Dem., Minnesota) who promised impeachment, did well. Polls show that a majority of Americans favor impeachment or wish Bush’s presidency were over. Voters in November even booted out a couple of Republicans who had turned against the war, saying that they were voting for a Democratic majority so that the Democrats could investigate the war as well as end it — something a majority of Americans continue to say they want.

As such, no new Republicans were elected and 30 new Democrats were sent to Washington. Sadly, it was clear from the beginning that the Democrats had no intentions of adhering to the will of the people.

Prior to the election, Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi had already ordered the Democrats in the House to oppose impeachment, but she had not ordered them to support the war. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), chaired by Congressman Rahm Emanuel, however, directed most of its financial support to candidates who did not call for ending the war. Of the 22 candidates funded by the DCCC, only 8 won. The rest of the victorious Democratic challengers, many of them strongly opposed to the war, got themselves elected without Emanuel’s help.

Not only was it clear through their actions and statements that the Democratic leadership had no plans of impeaching President Bush (which I will address shortly) or ending the war, once elected Chairman Emanuel made it clear that the war was not a priority. Instead, the Democrats focused on simpler, safer proposals, preferring to utilize other issues to bludgeon the Republicans. This was the motivation of the much hyped, first 100 hours.

As reported in the Washington Post:

Pelosi’s agenda for the first 100 hours is a set of tight, doable proposals…

And here’s what Emanuel doesn’t want to do: fall into the political trap of chasing overambitious or potentially unpopular measures. Ask about universal health care, and he shakes his head. Four smart presidents — Truman, Johnson, Nixon and Clinton — tried and failed. That one can wait. Reform of Social Security and other entitlements? Too big, too woolly, too risky. If the president wants to propose big changes to entitlements, he can lead the charge.

The secret for the Democrats, says Emanuel, is to remain the party of reform and change. The country is angry, and it will only get more so as the problems in Iraq deepen. Don’t look to Emanuel’s Democrats for solutions on Iraq. It’s Bush’s war, and as it splinters the structure of GOP power, the Democrats are waiting to pick up the pieces.

The Democrats never had any intention of ending the war. Instead they chose to wait it out to use during the 2008 election. However, they waited too long, and now that the media is circulating the “surge is working” meme and violence in Iraq has decreased, the Democratic Selectee is planning on easing off of his previously iron-clad promise to bring the troops home. However, even more egregious, the Democrats refuse to hold President Bush accountable for the illegal war they allow him to continue to wage:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ruled out any impeachment of Bush as soon as the Democrats won control of Congress in November 2006. Impeachment resolutions against Cheney were introduced in May and November of 2007 and killed each time by the Democrats, in the same fashion as the Bush impeachment resolution Wednesday.

There is no question that, unlike Bill Clinton, who was impeached for lying about a private sexual encounter, George W. Bush is guilty of offenses that meet the “high crimes and misdemeanors” standard set by the US Constitution.

The adamant opposition to impeachment proceedings on the part of Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and the rest of the Democratic leadership does not stem from a belief that such proceedings would be unpopular. According to public opinion polls, a majority of the American people and an overwhelming majority of Democratic voters favor Bush’s impeachment and removal from office.

The Democratic leadership opposes impeachment not on legal, but on political and class grounds…The Democrats want to replace Bush as chief executive with one of their own, and their rejection of impeachment is one more effort to demonstrate to the ruling class that they will be more “responsible” in their conduct than their Republican opponents (who impeached Bill Clinton as he was ordering bombing raids against the Iraq of Saddam Hussein).

The Democrats regained control of the House in November 2006, in an election dominated by popular hostility to the war in Iraq and to the Bush presidency. Conyers and other Democrats had demanded impeachment hearings when they were in the minority and could not do anything about it. As soon as they became the majority, they abruptly dropped the issue and declared they would have nothing to do with it.

Only last month, Conyers sent a letter to Bush warning him that “if you do not obtain the constitutionally required congressional authorization before launching preemptive military strikes against Iran or any other nation, impeachment proceedings should be pursued.”

The unanimous rejection of impeachment proceedings by the Democrats shows that this warning was an empty threat.

If that wasn’t enough, the complete roll over on FISA by Congressional Democrats is another clear signal that they have no intentions of fighting the big battles or delivering to their constituencies and holding President Bush accountable. In fact, they gave him more than he even wanted:

…the GOP couldn’t even wait for the ink to dry on this “compromise” before publicly — and accurately — boasting that they not only got everything they want, but got even more than they dreamed they would get. To The New York Times‘ Eric Lichtblau, GOP House Whip Roy Blunt derided the telecom amnesty provision as nothing more than a “formality” which would inevitably lead to the immediate and automatic dismissal of all lawsuits against the telecoms, while Sen. Kit Bond taunted the Democrats for giving away even more than they had to in order to get a deal: “I think the White House got a better deal than they even had hoped to get.”

Lichtblau himself noted that “the White House immediately endorsed the proposal” and wrote that the bill “represents a major victory for the White House after months of dispute.” Reporters Dan Eggen and Paul Kane were even more blunt and derisive in The Washington Post, noting that the Democrats “hand[ed] President Bush one of the last major legislative victories he is likely to achieve”; that “the deal appears to give Bush and his aides, including Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, much of what they sought in a new surveillance law”; and that “the negotiations underscored the political calculation made by many Democrats who werefearful that Republicans would cast them as soft on terrorismduring an election year.”

Surrendering and fearful: that’s the face of the Democratic Party. It’s how they show they’re not weak. The most succinct summary of what the Democrats just “negotiated” came from Russ Feingold: “The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation.” Numerous other Democratic office-holders and Congressional candidates scornfully characterized this bill for what it is, including Andrea Miller, a Democratic nominee for Congress in Virginia, who said: “We have a Democratic majority in the House and yet they seem to be as confused by the meaning of the Constitution as the Republicans.”

As we all know, Obama also agreed to the FISA capitulation in direct contradiction of his promise to filibuster.

Congressional Democrats and our new Selectee have been grave disappointments. They have shown time and time again that they will subvert or ignore the will of the people in order to win an election. They have failed to act decisively to end the Iraq War, preferring instead to let more soldiers and innocents die in order to gain a perceived upper-hand in the presidential election. They have adamantly refused to hold President Bush accountable for his illegal and corrupt actions and instead have condoned and retroactively forgiven his most egregious transgressions.

As voters, we gave the Democrats a chance to end the war, hold President Bush accountable, and protect our Constitution and our privacy. Instead of heeding the will of their constituents, they have squandered their majority and electoral mandate, hoping to dupe us into “rewarding” them in November by electing their appointed presidential candidate.

In my estimation, the Democratic powers that be have selected Senator Obama, as opposed to Senator Clinton, because with his lack of experience and relative lack of political knowledge, savvy and strength, his potential presidency will provide Congressional leaders with more power and status than the strong executive and independent force that would be a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency. In short, they stand to gain more from a weak Executive than a strong one.

It’s time to tell the Democrats No Deal. The Democrats need to prove that they have the principles, integrity and courage to fight for their espoused principles and stand by their platform promises. In November, the Democrats will most likely have a larger Senate and House majority. However, for numerous reasons, they must not and will not regain the White House. A divided government will force the Democrats to prove their grit and commitment to the Party’s core values and will hold the Republican Party in check, giving McCain even more cover to embrace his maverick streak and govern from the center.

Senator Obama is right about one thing: We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We, the people, must be the ones to hold both Parties accountable. We should and will do so in November. The Parties must once again be beholden to the voters. For too long we have entrusted our politicians with our power. In November, we take it back, and demand results.

We must join together and Just Say No Deal, for “If the Parties won’t uphold Democratic principles, who will? If the voters don’t hold the Parties accountable, who will?”

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