If At First You Don’t Succeed

Nora Ephron expresses the sentiment that many Democrats such as myself have felt for sometime now, the same feeling we feel as we watch the new Democratically controlled congress stumble horribly through failure after failure both in attempting to slow the momentum of a failed administration, and in attempting to accomplish anything positive.

In this light, when Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, and Dianne Feinstein of California have telegraphed their support for Michael Mukasey’s appointment to head the Department of Justice, the event comes not so much as heartbreaking in and of itself, but indeed as merely indicative of the larger problem, the reason why so many people feel in their relationship with the Democratic party like jilted lovers.

There is truth in the claim that much of the blame should weigh heavy upon the shoulders of the party’s leadership, but it is also important to understand that the actions of Chris Dodd to filibuster the FISA bill along with the move by David Obey to not allow passage any funding bill that does not call for a withdrawl from Iraq have had the effect of shining a light up on the rest of the caucus as a whole.

The final verdict is that these people have no fight in them.  Chuck Schumer’s justification that Mukasey is the best we’re likely to get is not befitting a member of the congress that had intended to stamp out the tendancy to be a rubber stamp; instead it is merely a continuation of the rubber stamp congress, albeit a slightly more whiny version.

As Nora proposes, you reject the man, and then reject the next appointee, then the next, and so on until you get one that has the decency to declare waterboarding what it is: torture.

In this context, we must realize that since Bush has taken office, Democrats have only stood and fought only one relevent and significant legislative battle, the one against privatizing Social Security.  Still, there can be no claims to courage there either, after all, Social Security isn’t referred to as the third rail of politics for nothing.  If anything, the fact that the Social Security fight was as protracted and dirty as it was was a testement to Bush’s temerity, and not to the will of the Democratic caucus.  For them, the fight was a battle of survival for if Republicans managed to find a way around the politically suicidal issue, that truly would spell death for the Democrats.

But despite the full onslaught of Bush and like minded purified free market idealogues, Democrats did win that battle, and in so doing, shed some light upon what they are doing wrong everywhere else.

Sometimes you have to stand and fight.

This is not to say I’m no friend of compromise, I favor the idea quite a bit.  In fact, it bears mentioning that Henry Clay remains one of my favorite figures of our nation’s infancy for his pentiant for compromise.  But if the adage that a compromise is a deal where both parties walk away believing they got a sour deal is true, than there has been no such thing as a compromise in DC since Bush took office (NCLB discluded because, in retrospect, we all know who ended up getting the short end of the stick there).

While Democrats have attempted to sell off their capitulations as compromises, such ceding of ground has been anything but.  Take, for instance, the addition of the benchmarks and progress reports to the emergency funding bill earlier this year for the Iraq conflict.  This “compromise” cost Bush virtually nothing; the measures were non-binding, and in fact the president was able to incorporate both progress reports and benchmarks into his PR machine in support of the war.

Meanwhile, there has been no real drawdown of troops (such a claim, I don’t believe, can be rightly made unless a significant withdrawl below pre-“surge” levels have been ordered up), and the fundamental flaws of the policy in its form today continue to persist.

Thus, there has been no compromises, and no victories, just time after time capitulation and rolling over and bearing of the belly.  Our civil liberties are still under constant attack by the supposed FISA battle, SCHIP, a program that enjoys wide support from the American people has sunk, and now Michael Mukasey is looking to replace Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General when the man cannot even display a significant improvement on how he would handle torture, thusly ripping away more of our country’s soul.

And yes, this is all the Democrats’ fault.  We expect the draconian measures put forth by Bush and the Republicans, but we should also rightfully expect the opposition do to just that, provide opposition, which it seems unable to do.

There is only one answer in these times where rightward extremism is running rampant; build a wall.  Make Bush’s veto pen run dry.  Send SCHIP up again, reign in FISA to acceptable limitations, deny him Mukasey, and draft the end to US involvement to the Iraq War.  And when he vetoes it, do it again.  And again.  And if at first, second, third, or fourth try you don’t succeed, do it again.

He’ll be leaving office soon, and in his nearly seven years of office, he has proven he is not fit to govern, so stop rolling over, and refuse to let him.

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