Author’s Note: This is a repost from my blog, Progressive World Review
In one short statement, House Majority leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) summed up the reason why we can’t count on the Democratic party to stand up for either the Constitution or the American people. While Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) characterized the recent passage of FISA “a capitulation,” Hoyer has declared it a “victory”. From the Politico,
In an interview with Politico on Monday, Hoyer called the FISA legislation a “significant victory” for the Democratic Party – one that neutralized an issue Republicans might have been able to use against Democrats in November while still, in his view, protecting the civil liberties of American citizens. (emphasis added)
This is precisely the problem that plagues the Democratic Party. Instead of providing true leadership they insist on licking the boots of the Republicans in the hope that they won’t get beat up. Even from a position of power they continue to let the Republicans frame the debate by allowing them to play the “security” card. Never mind that the Republican brand is positioned somewhere lower than Enron’s and that Americans are fed up with the direction they’ve taken this country, still, the Democrats insist on doing these closed door deals that play to the Republican strength rather than stand up for America.
This was Hoyer’s reason for making this “victorious” deal,
Hoyer said that if House Democratic leaders failed to reach a FISA deal with the White House and GOP leaders, as many as “30 Blue Dogs and another 20 to 30 members” could have signed onto a Republican discharge petition calling for a floor vote on the Senate version of the FISA bill, which was even more anathema to House Democrats than what eventually passed.
Apparently it didn’t occur to Hoyer to stand up to these “Blue Dogs” and expose them for what they are, instead, Hoyer cuts a deal that is virtually indistinguishable from the Senate version he was so desperate to avoid and declares it a victory.
Hoyer said that House Democrats succeeded in dialing back some of the provisions contained in the earlier, Senate-passed version of the FISA legislation. While the Senate bill provided retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program, Hoyer noted that the House version mandates judicial review of the companies’ actions. Legal experts and congressional opponents argue that such review will ultimately be meaningless. (emphasis added)
So in fact, Hoyer won nothing, nothing except the hollow victory of taking bad legislation and calling it success.
This is exactly the kind of political maneuvering that Americans are so fed up with. Even if conservative Democrats could have been successful in defeating an honest attempt at a FISA bill that makes sense, wouldn’t it be better to go down in glorious defeat rather than whimpering, meaningless victory?
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