August 10, 2007

THEREBY ILLUSTRATING LORD CHESTERFIELD'S MAXIM...:

Why the Democrats Caved (E. J. Dionne Jr., August 10, 2007, Washington Post)

Shortly before noon last Saturday, about 20 House Democrats huddled in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office to decide what to do about a surveillance bill that had been dumped on them by the Senate before it left town.

Many of the Democrats were furious. They believed they had negotiated in good faith with Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence. They sought to give the Bush administration the authority it needed to intercept communications involving foreign nationals in terrorism investigations while preserving some oversight.

But the administration held out for granting McConnell and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales more power while seriously circumscribing the role of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Senate's Democratic leadership, lacking the votes to pass a measure more to the House's liking, gave the administration what it wanted.

At one point, according to participants in the Pelosi meeting, the passionate discussion veered toward the idea of standing up to the administration -- even at the risk of handing President Bush a chance to bash Democrats on "national security," as is his wont.

Several members from swing districts -- including Reps. Heath Shuler of North Carolina and Patrick J. Murphy of Pennsylvania -- expressed openness to having Congress stay in town to fight if important constitutional issues were at stake.

But the moment passed.


"The pleasure is momentary, the position rediculous, and the expense damnable."

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 10, 2007 12:23 PM
Comments

"Several members from swing districts -- including Reps. Heath Shuler of North Carolina and Patrick J. Murphy of Pennsylvania -- expressed openness to having Congress stay in town to fight if important constitutional issues were at stake."

Betcha anything this is a lie.

Posted by: b at August 10, 2007 1:18 PM

"The Senate's Democratic leadership, lacking the votes to pass a measure more to the House's liking, gave the administration what it wanted."

Flipping through AM radio when this passed, I heard a liberal talk show host ranting about how Bush - 30% approval rating - had intimidated (!) enough Democrats to bully the bill through Congress.

Posted by: Rick T. at August 10, 2007 2:26 PM

For sheer surrealist beauty, it's hard to beat Dionne's last paragraph:

But if legislation was needed, there were many ways to grant necessary authority while preserving real oversight. The Democrats got trapped, and they punted. The Republicans have never met a national security issue they're not willing to politicize. This is no way to run a superpower.

Those dastardly Republicans, holding the Democrats feet to the fire with the voters.

Posted by: Ibid at August 10, 2007 4:06 PM

b: exactly.

If Shuler or Murphy voted against this bill, it would be tough to get 45% in the next election.

And everyone remembers what the GA voters did to Max Cleland when he wanted to unionize Homeland Security.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 10, 2007 6:39 PM

"The Republicans have never met a national security issue they're not willing to politicize."

So he is accusing politicians being political.

Btw, who is politicizing the issue: the Republicans who voted the way they believed, or the Democrats who voted to ensure their own viability, against their own conscience and judgement. Who are the unprincipled ones? Who are politicizing the issue? Shouldn't Democrats start voting for leftist Democrats, instead of voting for those who cared more about their own reelection than about what the nutroots wanted them to do? Or perhaps, leftist Democrats are unelectable?

Posted by: ic at August 10, 2007 8:16 PM

Actually, this is precisely the way to run a superpower. The enemy carries on in the hope of another Vietnam-style Dolchstoss. In the interest of peace it is important that we demonstrate to the other side that the people support final victory in the clash of civilizations.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 11, 2007 6:32 AM
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