"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Gov. Tom Vilsack said Monday that Democrats risk political backlash if they object to the Bush administration's wiretapping but cannot show that Americans' civil liberties are at risk.
The Democratic governor, who is weighing a 2008 presidential bid, said the party will suffer if it continues to be perceived as weaker than Republicans on national security.
Under a directive signed by President Bush, the National Security Agency can monitor the international communications of people inside the country, when one party to the call or e-mail is believed to be involved with the terrorist network al-Qaida. The practice is done without a court order, normally required to monitor such communications.
"If the president broke the law, that's unacceptable. But I think it's debateable whether he did," Vilsack told Des Moines Register editors and reporters.
"And I think Democrats are falling into a very, very large political trap," he said. "Democrats are not going to win elections until they can reassure people they are going to keep them safe."
That sound you hear is Karl Rove giggling so hard he's peeing himself. Here's a man who deludes himself into thinking that he could be his party's nominee for President of the United States, endorsing - no, quoting - the other party's talking points. His ludicrous assertion that it is "debateable" whether a blatant violation of an act of Congress (not to mention the Fourth Amendment!) is unlawful speaks volumes about his lack of commitment to civil liberties and the rule of law. Furthermore, and perhaps worst of all, Vilsack's gutless hand-wringing demonstrates the very weakness which he purports to warn against. If opposition to the imperial presidency is indeed a "political trap," well, then, so be it - would you rather be right, or be President? Don't bother answering; that was a rhetorical question. We all know the answer.
As appalling as Vilsack's little outburst may be, at least it is his alone. He was not speaking on behalf of the Democratic Party. Tim Kaine, on the other hand, is speaking for the Democratic Party, and all he has to offer is this (emphasis supplied):
Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, tapped to deliver the State of the Union response for Democrats, has sharp words for both parties in Washington: Stop being so partisan, negative and irrelevant. "There's a better way," he said Monday.
Yeah, I'm sure that Newt Gingrich was terrified of appearing "partisan" and "negative" as he engineered the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. Look, this is the kind of thing that makes Democrats look weak. If they can't muster the fire in their bellies necessary to compete toe-to-toe in the nasty world of politics, the average Joe says to himself, they certainly can't be trusted to stare down our enemies abroad.
I'm old enough to recall the Reagan years well. Most Americans disagreed with much of his political agenda, but they respected his show of confidence and conviction. The voters will agree to disagree on matters of policy, but what they will not tolerate is spinelessness. That, unfortunately, is a quality which the Democratic Party possesses in abundance. They project the same sort of learned helplessness that one sees in a battered wife - "He's a good man; he don't mean no harm, 'cept when he's all lickered up." Look closely, and you're likely to see the faint traces of a black eye under Kaine's TV makeup tonight.
Update: A correction - it was, in fact, only 24 Democrats who bothered to do something meaningful about Alito's confirmation. The 25th vote against cloture came from Jim Jeffords, an Independent (and, formerly, a Republican). Apologies to the anonymous, random Democrat who I mistakenly accused of having actual convictions. I promise, it won't happen again.