Monday, October 02, 2006
Changing Fortunes and Democratic Leadership
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?