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Monday, October 02, 2006

 

Changing Fortunes and Democratic Leadership



Midterm Elections


What a difference a year makes! The erosion of GOP's clout started more than a year ago and accelerated this year. The president's misadventure in Iraq, its escalating costs and mounting casualties are certainly factors that contributed to the Republicans' loss of support. Exposure of corruption and scandals also hurt them but they have become so used (addicted) to favors from PACs that they resist any attempts for reform.

About five weeks from midterm elections, the 'October surprise' could still happen; the Bushies will try their damndest to spring one. In the absence of a real one they will increase the tempo on threat of terrorism. From the look of things, Democrats are in a strong position to retake the House. Latest reports indicate that even retaining control of the Senate is no longer a sure thing for Republicans. Encouraging. But a word of caution to Democratic lawmakers. If you act like your counterparts across the aisles -- if you begin grandstanding and treating the voters with contempt, if you sell yourselves to the PACs, then you will not be immune from backlash. It has been a hard, uphill journey to be where we are today. We -- ordinary Americans who are registered Democrats, the liberals, the media which exposed the emperor without his clothes -- are not going to sit back and allow you to lose the ground gained.

Are Democratic leaders going to pay any attention to Sebastian Mallaby's column in the Post? "A Party Without Principles" is too harsh a description but Mr. Mallaby makes some valid points.





After years of single-party government, the prospect of a Democratic majority in the House ought to feel refreshing. But even with Republicans collapsing in a pile of sexual sleaze, I just can't get excited. Most Democrats in Congress seem bereft of ideas or the courage to stand up for them. They clearly want power, but they have no principles to guide their use of it.

On Friday, Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, correctly denounced a border-fence bill as a concession "to the radical anti-immigrant right wing" of the Republican Party. It's absurd to fence off 700 miles of the border and leave the other 1,300 miles open; besides, the government lacks the manpower to prevent migrants from defeating the fence with tunnels or ladders. But if blowing billions on this symbolism is a sop to right-wing nuts, why did 26 Senate Democrats vote for the bill while only 17 opposed it?

The day before the immigration vote, the majority of Senate Democrats summoned up the courage to oppose the Bush assault on the nation's traditions of justice. Of course they were right; you don't win a war of ideas by abandoning your most appealing ones. But if the Democrats had made common cause with the bill's Republican opponents, they could have filibustered the president's bill. Why vote against something and simultaneously allow it through? On an issue as basic as access to justice, can't Democrats stand on principle?


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