With Congress planning to adjourn by Sept. 30, it is possible that last-minute snags could complicate or even prevent the bill's passage. But top Democrats in both houses indicated that they will not stand in the bill's path and risk being blamed for its demise."I will need to look at the final bill carefully, but elements of the compromise I have seen are promising," said Ike Skelton (Mo.), the Armed Services Committee's ranking Democrat.A few liberal Democratic lawmakers attacked the bill yesterday, but none signaled all-out plans to try to kill it. "By using legal mumbo jumbo to obscure the fact that the CIA will continue to be allowed to use torture and will actually be insulated from legal liability for previous acts of torture, President Bush is proceeding ever further down the slippery slope that Colin Powell warned us will endanger American troops in the field by encouraging other countries to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions," said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).The Washington Post at least pays some lip service to the Democrat's "liberal constituency":
Some of the Democrats' liberal constituents dislike the bill, viewing it as a green light for President Bush to resume a CIA policy of interrogating foreign terrorism suspects with harsh techniques that some critics consider torture.Some. Try all? But yet again, the "conventional wisdom" is that attacking the bill would hurt the Democrats at the poll:
...to oppose the compromise, which Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has embraced, would subject them to charges of being soft on terrorism, several analysts said.Many Democrats would undoubtedly like to change the bill, "but probably those in competitive races will just have to stay behind McCain," said political scientist Bruce Cain, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. A House Democratic leadership aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss political strategy, said: "We had really hoped the White House had caved, but it's looking more and more like the senators caved."Seriously? They were hoping the White House would cave so...what? They could avoid getting this bill passed without having to actually....well, fight it?
That is not sitting well with liberal activists, whose energy will be important to Democrats on Election Day. Caroline Fredrickson, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington legislative office, called the legislation a "get out of jail free" card for the administration's "top torture officials." She said it would render the Geneva Conventions' protections "irrelevant and unenforceable."Democratic political strategists at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research encouraged Democrats to challenge Republicans on national security issues. Jeremy Rosner, senior vice president, said polling suggests that Bush's focus on security matters in the past weeks may have helped his personal approval ratings, but it has harmed Republican lawmakers by elevating anxieties over Iraq."There is much more room than people have guessed for Democrats to engage on this issue, to get heard and even to win," he stressed.Well yes, there is. But Democrats appear to be completely willing to roll over on the issue of national security, believing somehow that this will preserve their precious lead going into the mid-terms. The exact opposite is true. First of all, this has demoralized the vast number of liberals willing to turn out to vote and help the Democrats in November. Secondly, and more importantly, this proves yet again to independents and moderates that Democrats are a party more interested in politics than taking a stance on a tough but important issue; instead of trying to change the tone of the debate (at a time when it simply could not be more perfect to do so) they are simply willing to hand the Republicans their victory in the hopes that they'll escape charges of being "soft" on terror...and instead, they come out looking like moral and political cowards. This is the party we're supposed to vote for in November?