crossposted from dailykos.com
Look how manly Democrats looked in the news!
The Senate bowed to White House pressure last night and passed a Republican plan for overhauling the federal government's terrorist surveillance laws, approving changes that would temporarily give U.S. spy agencies expanded power to eavesdrop on foreign suspects without a court order.
Can you feel the Democratic strength oozing from that paragraph! "Bowed the White House pressure" will sure teach Americans about how strong the Democratic Party is! Everyone will think, "wow, those guys bowing to pressure from a guy whose approval rating is in the toilet sure aren't weak or cowardly!"
So what happened? Greenwald got Sen. Dodd to explain things a bit:
GG: There is this gap in FISA, which everyone, even Russ Feingold, says needs to be filled, which is that if there is a foreign-to-foreign conversation which happens to be routed through the U.S., it requires a warrant -- so why not just say "OK, we fixed this gap and here's our bill and if you veto it, and there's a terrorist attack, then it's your responsibility"?
CD: Hello? Sounds pretty reasonable to me. But part of what this comes down to is that too many people in public life are not secure enough in their own beliefs -- feel vulnerable to attacks by people who will attack you -- and feel unwilling or unable to respond to them with clarity and conviction. And if you lack that clarity and conviction, and if you haven't been through this in the past, then you're likely to be a little weaker in the legs.
Feingold has a similar take:
Six years ago, in the aftermath of 9/11, Congress rammed through the USA PATRIOT Act with little consideration of what that bill actually contained. Five years ago, Congress authorized a reckless and ill-advised war in Iraq. One year ago, Congress passed the deeply flawed Military Commissions Act. And late last week, a Democratic Congress passed legislation that dramatically expands the government's ability to conduct warrantless wiretapping, which could affect innocent Americans. It is clear that many congressional Democrats have not learned from those earlier mistakes, two of which happened when Democrats controlled the Senate. Once again, Congress has buckled to pressure and intimidation by the administration [...]
The American people see through these tactics, and don't buy the president's attempts to use the threat of terrorism to get what he wants any more. Unfortunately, 16 Senate Democrats and an Independent, as well as 41 House Democrats were all too willing last week to let the president successfully employ this ruse yet again.
Yeah, it's all about fear. They're afraid of attack ads that will say nasty things about them, as if cowardly caving to the administration will somehow give them a free pass this coming election.
Nothing will give them a free pass. They'll be accused of coddling terrorists.
In 2002 and 2004, Democrats caved on Iraq and were still targeted on the issue. They lost. In 2006, Democrats got tough, demanding a change in administration policies. Republicans still attacked accused them of coddling terrorists. But it didn't matter, this time they won.
It's amazing that they have to re-learn this lesson again and again, but what can we do. Eventually, you figure the lesson will have to sink in.