I remember that before the Iraq war vote, millions of Democrats wrote to their Senators begging them not to vote for the resolution. Many of them voted for the resolution anyway, some for regional reasons like Schumer and Clinton and some because of presidential ambitions. (And then there was Joe, true believer.) Ok. It was only a year after 9/11, Bush stood at 75% approval rating, an election was imminent and nobody knew quite how the wind was going to blow. But none of those conditions are currently present. There is absolutely no excuse for Democrats to compromise or preemptively cave on anything of importance. None.
The first thing on the table in this new congress is going to be Alberto Gonzales. He will be confirmed (barring naked pictures of him and Bush in a hammock drinking tequila slammers. And even then... ) But, because of that, the temptation for many Democrats will be to vote with the Republicans on this in hopes of holding a chit or two down the road on something that really matters to them. This is as dumb as it is wrong.
As Matt Yglesias says (regarding social security) today on TAPPED:
It's compelling logic, that is, if you've been living under a rock for the past four years. Democrats have tried this approach several times during the first term, and with only the partial exception of No Child Left Behind, they've gotten screwed each and every time. At some point, you've got to learn the lesson that the White House and the GOP leadership isn't interested in constructive compromise. Ask Charlie Stenholm where his bipartisanship on Social Security got him.
I honestly don't know what it's going to take to teach this to the Democrats in congress. It's as if the Republicans have attached a "kick me" sign to their backs and nobody's told them. We need to tell them in no uncertain terms.
He's right. The Democrats need to start acting like a true opposition party and stop thinking there is any such thing as bipartisanship. I don't remember who came up with this disgusting analogy (I think it was actually a Republican), but it is proving correct. Bipartisanship is like date rape. The Dems keep going on the date thinking the Republicans will behave and they'll have a nice time, and they get fucked every time.
There are going to be issues that the Democrats cannot stop. Gonzales' confirmation as A.G. is probably among the first. But the only hope they have of thwarting his appointment is to actually ask the toughest possible questions and demand the answers. Unless a tough hearing unveils extremely unsavory information (yes, astonishingly that means something more unsavory than his support for torture), Gonzales will be confirmed. There should be no room in the Democratic party for anyone to support his nomination. No electoral reasons. No "voting with the winning side" because a "Nay" is really a protest vote. Goddamn right it's a protest vote, and if you can't cast it, get the fuck on the other side of the aisle.
The same for Social Security "reform" as currently proposed by the Republicans. NO. Across the board. Come up with your own reform package if you must, but in no way should any Democrat support the shit coming down the pike from Bush & Co.
Any Demoocrat on the wrong side of these (and others to come) bellweather issues needs to get tossed over the side. I've got no use for you in the Party and ou should be challenged in the next primary even if it means losing. If we're going to be a minority, at least be a minority with a spine.
Hmm. 2005 is shaping up to be even more angry than last year...
[UPDATE:] I'll definitely be more angry if shit like this comes to pass:
[NY Times] Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat on the committee, said in an interview that despite reservations about Mr. Gonzales, he is likely to be confirmed and with broad Democratic support.
Mr. Schumer said the threshold for winning confirmation to a president's cabinet was far lower than for lifetime nominations to the Supreme Court, which have produced intense battles.
"Generally, for an executive branch position the president gets the benefit of the doubt," he said. "The general feeling on the committee is that he has probably met that lowered threshold."
Um, Senator, if you are going to support him in the end, don't bother with the "tough questions." Oppose him or don't. If a guy like Schumer, who was just re-elected with 80% of the vote, can't take a stand, we are truly fucked.