Friday, September 29, 2006
So the horrific torture bill has passed, with some last-minute changes that make it more horrific still. Bush claims a victory, and McCain and Specter get to tout their willingness to stand up the chief executive, yet still give him basically all he asked for. That's how the legislation played out on the coverage I heard and read, anyway. Democrats were absent from the whole debate. I am not the first person, I'm sure, to howl at the continued cowardice of the Dems, as exemplified in this most recent episode. And I'm aware that the Democrats may have held press conferences and issued critical papers that the press I read didn't cover. Out of power in all branches of government, Democrats have few means at their disposal to substantially affect legislation favored by Republicans. So the press may have just ignored their bleatings. But it's more likely that Dems made a conscious choice to lay low, content to let the Republicans fire on one another before eventually arriving at the current bill. How clever, some may have thought--we've avoided taking a position on a bill that could be used to portray us as soft on terrorism. But if that was the thinking, it's completely, disasterously wrong. Democrats won't be taken seriously on national security issues by aping Republican positions in an attempt to appear 'tough.' They will be taken seriously when they start trying to play an active role in shaping national security policy. They may not have the ability to push through their own legislation, but the American people should damn well know that the Democrats *have* legislation they'd like to pass. (They do, don't they?) Holy flurking schnit! This whole torture bill affair was a completely Republican show. Anyone paying attention, whether they favored the bill, didn't favor it, or had no real opinion one way or the other, gained the correct impression that Republicans are running things down in Washington. Fine; it's their mess, let them have it. But media consumers also got the impression that the Democrats simply aren't interested in running things, at least things related to national security. I know that's not a correct impression, but I can't blame anyone for thinking it right. And to those tounge-cluckers who say things like, 'just a few weeks before an important election might not be a good time be perpetuating the idea that Democrats aren't serious about national security,' I would say that now, just a few weeks before an important election, is not a good time to run and hide from debates about critical issues of the moment! For God's sake, stand up in front of some cameras and microphones and at least act LIKE YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO DO SOMETHING FOR THIS COUNTRY!