It's becoming harder and harder to identify myself as a Democrat. I no longer know if my preferences for political action match the Party's. No, I'm not hopping on the "party without a message" bandwagon. There is a message, but the evidence is mounting that the establishment Dems have internalized the wrong lessons from the current administration - my distaste Bush and Co.'s problem always been less about the rhetoric than about the actions taken in support of that rhetoric. Or to my view the actions taken inconsistent with the 'message,' as well as the "creating . . . new realities" BS - a different symptom, but the same disease.
But if the proof is in the pudding, what the hell do the Dems really believe? They mouth off from time to time about this or that outrage and promise things, but when it comes time to actually do things, the best they can manage is phones calls from Switzerland. "Wait, wait," they tell us "the time isn't right yet." Why not, Atrios has been posting ponies (for new lows in approval polls) several times a week for a month or more. And still nothing.
First they absolutely cave on the Hayden CIA nomination. As Chef might say, "Why Bad?" Well:
The reason for Democrats not to support the nomination was to avoid (accurate) lead paragraphs like this one, from a Reuters article today reporting on Hayden's confirmation by the full Senate by a vote of 78-15:And, by pretty logical extension, tacit support of said program. Certainly gives at least the appearance of "playing politics with national security" (if not substance, which I'm becoming more open to being convinced.) I've always thought that charge was Rovian horseflop, but all but 15 are indeed quacking like ducks.
The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden as CIA director in a vote that gave a broad bipartisan endorsement to the architect of President George W. Bush's domestic spying program.
Then there is the William Jefferson FBI raid 'scandal'. While the Dems' response hasn't been as catastrophic as Hastert, et al's, it has still been half-a-loaf (and I understand where the Congressional Black Caucus is coming from - why is Jefferson's the first office raided? But the answer is not to defend him, but rather to say "please, have a look around at the chambers of Messrs Delay, Ney, etc. while you're in there") and an enormous missed opportunity to both put the 'culture of corroption' in contrast and to expose GOP hypocrisy on the executive power issue.
And the final capitulation was today's confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh for the D.C. Appellate court. Generally speaking, I'm deferential to executive privilege in terms of nominating jurists - that's up front a part of what people are voting for. However, my two conditions are non-extremism and competence. Kavanaugh fails both tests, pretty badly:
Brett Kavanaugh has no judicial experience and, at 38, would be one of the youngest members in the history of the Court of Appeals for the Washington, DC, Circuit--the bench that sent Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas directly to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is the principal author of Ken Starr's prurient final report to Congress on President Clinton. He drafted the grounds for impeachment and, after leaving the independent counsel's office, went to work at Starr's law firm, Kirkland & Ellis.So, if ever there was a guy to filibuster - even more so than Alito (who, for whatever extremism he embodies in the real of Executive Powers, had impeccable credentials as far as competence and temperment) - this is it. But instead, the predictable people made the predictable noise, probably raised some PAC money, and then when it came time for some action...well stop me if you know how this one ends.
Kavanaugh has never participated in a trial. In his Judiciary Committee questionnaire, he was asked to list his ten most significant cases; four of those he cited did not even involve a courtroom appearance, and in two he merely filed a Supreme Court amicus curiae brief for a third party. Most recently, Kavanaugh has worked in the White House selecting Bush's judicial nominees, coordinating the unsuccessful nominations of Estrada and Priscilla Owen.
When he worked for Ken Starr, Kavanaugh spent a lot of his time trying to challenge President Clinton's assertions of executive privilege. But one of his jobs in the Bush White House has been to defend claims of executive privilege. Kavanaugh has blocked a Senate committee from getting to see Enron-related documents, and he wrote the executive order that blocked the release of presidential papers, despite a federal law requiring that they be made public after twelve years.
I always get riled up when people start talking about the "party of no" and obstructionism and so on and so forth. Seldom have I actually wished it to be true. Better to say "No!" then to say "No...well, let me think about it. Okay, try not to screw it up too badly. But we'll give you a second chance even if you do."
Events like these make me wonder if it's all just a big Kabuki as more and more power and influence vests with the corporate elite who pull the (purse) strings of both paries. An apropo aside, interesting how a charismatic, unmuzzled rank outsider, Paul Hackett got pushed aside by the Democratic leadership with a variation of the "Angry Left" theme. can't upset the apple cart, now can we?
As John Cole says, when things like this happen
it briefly makes me want to go apologize to all the Naderites for making fun of their paranoid conspiracy theories.Very briefly. But still.
Are they interested in regaining power to actually govern effectively or more concerned individually in staying "in power?" Feckless, hopeless or completely, hypocritically cynical? You make the call.