Saturday, September 23, 2006

Democrats Won't Oppose Torture Bill

Dammit. Dammit. Dammit.
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: 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?


adam said...

The Democrats dropped the ball in failing to realize that McCain et al would eventually capitulate to Bush - like they always do. It gave the White House political cover, and now Democrats would look like they are opposing a reasonable "compromise" between Bush and "moderate Republicans." Democrats outsourced their leadership to John McCain and he screwed us over in favor of his party. Go figure.

adam said...

That said, the only hope we have of getting the changes we want is still for Democrats to win this November. Democrats made a huge strategic error for sure, but I'm not sure I'm ready to be so demoralized. Obviously I'm the most partisan of the three of us, but let's remember who's fault this bill really is - the Republicans.

Nat-Wu said...

It's not a strategic error, it's a moral one. I don't care if opposing the bill would help them win or lose, they should have done it anyway. That's precisely why I'm not a Democrat and that's the basis for why I criticize them so harshly. They can't just stand up and do what's right.

adam said...

But what should we do, stay home? This bill would pass with or without Democratic support, and if the Democrats lose in November, we'll never have a chance to get changes to it and god knows what else will happen as a consequence.

Nat-Wu said...

I'm not saying not to vote for Democrats. If it's a choice of the lesser of two evils, then take the lesser! But just acknowledge that we're dealing with a party of people who espouse good principles but compromise them for political gain. It's almost more hypocritical than the Republicans, except the the Repubs also claim they want what's best for America while doing anything but what's best.

The Dems should have opposed the bill. You admitted that yourself. 100% unilateral opposition. Believe it or not, Americans like it when people take a stand. That's why the keep voting for Bush and his idiots.

Look, you can blame the Repubs for doing this in the first place. I do. I'm not saying that because the Dems didn't stand up for what's right we should blame them more than the Repubs. But yeah, they're both at fault, and the reason that I'm more upset with the Dems is that unlike the Repubs, I believe they can do some good. But for politics, they choose not to.

Fan Boy said...

This is not the Democrat's or the Republican's fault - it sits squarly on the shoulders of the American people.

This is not rocket science, you get a job representing people, you stay in the job by representing them. The only way you know how to do that is according to the polls you take and lobbiest that knock on your door.

American's are divided on how to best protect America from further attacks while perserving our moral framework. No one has the answer that is going to make more happy than it does unhappy any more.

The overwhelming problem is that no one is willing to risks their political capital and stand on their own sword for this issue during an election year.

The problem is the Republican and Democratic parties are exacting mirrors of American behavior and they are doing the job well. In absence of true leadership false leasership will be accepted.

There is no one that is polarizing, charasmatic, and a force to reckon with in American Politics today. The closest thing we have to someone who is willing to take a stake is Bill Clinton who got the call right when he critized the Administration for their stupidity this week. But he can't run for President again, and that makes his wife VERY attractive in 2008.