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Discussion Question: How Should the Democrats Deal with These Fraudulent Republican Measures on the Bushite Crimes?

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It is a sick feeling that has become all-too familiar in recent years: the feeling that comes from seeing how triumphant is The Lie in today's America.

Is that not what this just-reached "compromise" between the Bush administration and the Republican Senators signifies? Is it an erroneous interpretation of this compromise that it gave the president virtually everything he wanted? And if that is so, is there any interpretation of this whole process that is plausible, other than that this whole process of confrontation/negotiation/compromise between this Republican president and these supposedly dissident Republican Senators has been a sham?

Was this all just a staged farce to dramatize --completely falsely-- that the Republicans of Congress are their own men, not just blindly following in lock-step with this president, so that the American people --thus falsely reassured-- would return the Republicans to control of the Congress? Did the Republicans just enact this, taking into account the unpopularity of the president, who is not on this year's ballot, in a strategy to strengthen those Republicans who ARE on the ballot this year?

If all this is so, then the question arises, what should the Democrats do about this, and about the other parallel fraud put forward by Republican Senator Arlen Specter.?

(As Glenn Greenwald has demonstrated with clarity and depth --and despite the claims of Specter and the reports in much of the corporate media to the contrary-- the measure that Specter has drawn up, presumably to bring the Bushites' illegal and unconstitutional warrantless surveillance under control, does no such thing. It is really completely a ratification and an enabling of this president's lawless course. And like the phony compromise on torture, it also works to remove the lawless conduct from the scrutiny of America's federal judiciary, and otherwise to insulate the executive from any legal consequences for its crimes.)

How should the Democrats deal with this? Should they stay away from these issues, seeing them as traps set for them by the Rovian Republicans? Should they come forward and talk boldly to the American people about these frauds and these crimes? Should they fillibuster the legislation the Republicans are advancing to enable the Bushite crimes?

Before I open the way here for your thoughts, let me lay out a few things.

First, I would propose as a premise for the discussion that the chief goal of the Democrats at this point should be success in the upcoming elections. If we posit that the most urgent task now facing America is reining in this rising fascism, then it follows, I believe, that what is most needful is to wrest some of the power of government from the Bushites. Ultimately, it will take power to defeat these forces, and control of even ONE house of Congress would be an extremely important step in that direction, one more vital than anything that can be accomplished with any of these fraudulent laws. Thus the question I am asking is: in order to maximize the chances of victory in November, what should the Democrats do with respect to these two issues and their "enabling" legislation?

If you disagree with that premise, you are welcome to state your alternative argument as to priorities and goals.

Second, although as one whose whole mission in life now is to speak "prophetically," raising a moral voice to confront this amoral power, I am eager to conclude that the Democrats should speak boldly and clearly, I can see some reasons for uncertainty about the wisdom of that course. These reasons include:

1) They are up against a propagandist, in Karl Rove, who is simply better than they are at manipulating issues for political advantage. Their track record against Rove gives no reason for confidence that they can outdo him here, as the 2006 election approaches.

2) They are also up against the corporate media whose willingness to report that black is white and night is day apparently endures, albeit perhaps somewhat diminished from when the Bushites were more popular.

3) The Democrats lack any really effective spokesperson, no one in the class of political maneuverers that Bill Clinton was in (and he's clearly not disposed to play that role now).

4) Whatever it is that's amiss with the American people, and that Karl Rove seems to have such insight into how to exploit, may prevent anyone being rewarded for speaking honestly and standing up for the right.

So I would say that it cannot be ruled out that the path of avoidance would work better than the path of confrontation. What do you think?

And if the Democrats SHOULD publicly confront the Bushites, and their Republican accomplices in the Congress, as a part of their 2006 campaign strategy, how would you suggest they do it?

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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