Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Event: Wiretaps, or, What is a Democrat?



It's a typical week, in that there are plenty of things that you ought to be angry about. High on the list is the New York Times report that Democrats Seem Ready to Extend Wiretap Powers. Of course, given the sound-bite nature of reportage these days, it's easy to lose the sequence of events here. They are fairly laid out in sequence by BarbinMD... specifically that despite Democratic tough-talk ("violence to the constitution" and "the stonewalling is unacceptable and it must end," a la Harry Reid) subpoenas have been slow coming. Now, not only do formal charges in response to an illegal program that puts us on par with Russia seem unlikely, but the program is about to be written into law.

Why can't the Democrats fight as tough as they talk? They don't have to become Republicans in order to do it. They don't have to be mean or hypocritical... just firm and assertive. How does this sound: For every Presidential veto that Congress will not override, the Democratic leadership will (in the absense of pressing legislation) turn its energy toward investigations of the abuse of power in the last decade. It doesn't have to be stated outright: it can be an "understanding." To paraphrase alan1, there's a time for rhetoric and a time for lawyers.

This time, I feel an above average sense of betrayal. Opposition to unconstitutional wiretaps isn't, after all, a fringe liberal position for Democrats to take up, nor are their numbers so soft that they can reasonably defer to perceived expediency.

This is a decade where the Republican party charges to the right in pursuit of their radical and inconsistant base. This is a decade where the Democratic party charges to the right, abandoning their patient and long-suffering base. At what point does a protest "vote of conscience" become acceptable again?

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