How the Democrats Blew It in Only 8 Months
By Alexander Cockburn
08/10/07 - -- [from the August 27, 2007 issue of The
Nation magazine] --- -Led by Democrats since the start of this
year, Congress now has a "confidence" rating of 14 percent,
the lowest since Gallup started asking the question in 1973
and five points lower than Republicans scored last year.
The voters put the Democrats in to end the war, and it's
escalating. The Democrats voted the money for the surge and
the money for the next $459.6 billion military budget. Their
latest achievement was to provide enough votes in support of
Bush to legalize warrantless wiretapping for "foreign
suspects whose communications pass through the United
States." Enough Democrats joined Republicans to make this a
227-183 victory for Bush. The Democrats control the House.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi could have stopped the bill in its
tracks if she'd wanted to. But she didn't. The Democrats'
game is to go along with the White House agenda while
stirring up dust storms to blind the base to their failure
to bring the troops home or restore constitutional
The row over the US Attorneys and the conduct of Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales has always been something of a
typhoon in a teaspoon. The Democrats love it, since they
imagine it portrays them to the public as resolute guardians
of the impartial administration of justice, a concept whose
credibility most Americans sensibly deride. The Democrats
now plan to track Gonzales's firing of the US Attorneys back
to that comic opera villain of the Bush era, Karl Rove,
another great provoker of dust storms.
The one Democrat acting on principle in the Gonzales affair
has been Senator Russ Feingold. He at least tried to dig
into the visit of chief White House counsel Gonzales, as he
then was, to the bedside of Attorney General John Ashcroft,
to get him to sign off on the illegal wiretaps. And how did
the Democrat-controlled Congress deal with Feingold's
efforts to nail Gonzales for his efforts to undermine the
Constitution and for his prevarications under oath? It
promptly legalized the eavesdropping.
Just as the Democrats work tirelessly to demonstrate to the
voters that it makes zero difference which party controls
Congress, the political establishment forces all candidates
for the presidential nomination to sever any compromising
ties to sanity and common sense.
Right now they're hosing down Barack Obama because he said
in the YouTube debate in South Carolina that he would be
prepared to meet with Kim Jong Il, Hugo Chávez, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad and Fidel Castro to hash over problems face to
face. The pundits whacked him for demonstrating
"inexperience." Experienced leaders order the CIA to murder
Then Obama drew even fiercer fire by saying he would take
nukes off the table in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan
and Pakistan. "I think it would be a profound mistake for us
to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance," Obama told the
AP on August 2, adding, after a pause, "involving
civilians." Then he quickly said, "Let me scratch that.
There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on
I'm beginning to respect this man. He displays sagacity well
beyond the norm for candidates seeking the Oval Office. He
comprehends, if only in mid-sentence, that when you drop a
nuclear bomb, it will kill civilians. He also realizes that
strafing Waziristan with thermonuclear devices in the hopes
of nailing Osama bin Laden is a foolish way to proceed.
So Obama is being flayed for his "inexperience," first and
foremost by Hillary Clinton, who permits no table setting
that does not include a couple of nuclear weapons next to
the sugar bowl. To recoup, Obama has declared his readiness
as Commander in Chief to order US forces to hotly pursue
Osama into Pakistan, whatever the government of Pakistan
might think of this onslaught on its sovereignty.
Has the left the capacity to influence the conduct of the
Democrats? In terms of substantive achievement the answer
thus far has been no. People didn't like it when I wrote
here a month ago that the antiwar movement was at a low ebb.
They invoke the polls showing that 70 percent of Americans
want the troops to come home. This is presumptuous, like a
barking dog claiming it made the moon go down. It didn't
take an antiwar movement to make the people antiwar. People
looked at the casualty figures and the newspaper headlines
and drew the obvious conclusion that the war is a bust.
Their attention is already shifting to the economic crisis:
housing meltdown, car sales meltdown, credit crisis, threats
from the Chinese to destroy the dollar. What war?
The left is as easily distracted, currently by the phantasm
of impeachment. Why all this clamor to launch a proceeding
surely destined to fail, aimed at a duo who will be out of
the White House in sixteen months? Pursue them for war
crimes after they've stepped down. Mount an international
campaign of the sort that has Henry Kissinger worrying at
airports that there might be a lawyer with a writ standing
next to the man with the limo sign. Right now the
impeachment campaign is a distraction from the war and the
paramount importance of ending it.
For sure, there are actions around the country: Quakers and
Unitarians picketing outside shopping centers, campus
vigils, resolutions by city councils and so forth. It's all
pretty quiet, in a conflict that has now--as my brother
Patrick recently pointed out--gone on longer than the First
World War. At the liberal blogger convention, Yearly Kos,
held the first weekend in August, the organizers nixed any
serious strategy session on the war. John Stauber of PR
Watch had to force an impromptu (and very successful)
session with leaders of the Iraq Veterans Against the War.
A war people hate, Gitmo, Bush's police-state executive
orders of July 17--the Democrats have signed the White House
dance card on all of them. And guess what? Just as their
poll numbers are going down, Bush's are going up, by five
points in Gallup from early July. People are beginning to
think the surge is working, courtesy of the New York Times.
So are we better or worse off since the Democrats won back
on "comments" below to
read or post comments
Be succinct, constructive and
relevant to the story.
encourage engaging, diverse and
meaningful commentary. Do not
include personal information such
as names, addresses, phone
numbers and emails. Comments
falling outside our guidelines
those including personal
attacks and profanity are
See our complete
this link to notify us if you
have concerns about a comment.
Well promptly review and
remove any inappropriate
Send Page To a Friend
with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
is distributed without profit to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational
purposes. Information Clearing House has no
affiliation whatsoever with the originator of
this article nor is Information ClearingHouse
endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)