February 6, 2003
There Tom Daschle Goes Again
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
There he goes again.
Tom Daschle said on Wednesday, February 5, that he doesn't know if he has enough votes to mount a filibuster against Miguel Estrada's nomination to the federal bunch.
It's deja vu all over again. When some of the Democratic senators with cojones wanted to defeat Ashcroft's nomination on the floor, Daschle boasted that he might get 40 votes against Ashcroft, if he was lucky. Of course, Daschle wasn't in support of filibustering Ashcroft because he had assured Bush that his cabinet nominees would get through the senate.
How do we know that Daschle privately pledged that he wouldn't "obstruct" the Bush Cartel right wing cabinet appointments? We know because the Bush White House leaked Daschle's assurance in order to embarrass him, which it did. Did Tom Daschle grow a backbone from that betrayal -- and numerous others? Of course, not.
BuzzFlash was relieved that Daschle chose not to run for president. We were just about to run an editorial urging him to forego the race when he surprised the pundits by announcing that he wanted to devote his time to marshaling strong opposition to the Bush agenda, in his role as senate leader.
But now we see the same old Daschle leadership "shrug." It's as if he is asking the public to understand that he has very little control over these fractious Democratic senators. Yes, the old adage is true: "Trying to lead Democrats in Congress is like trying to herd cats." But you know what, Daschle sought the role of chief "cat herder," and he should start herding them or step down and let someone else step up to the plate.
When Ashcroft's nomination was headed for the senate floor, Trent Lott declared that everyone in the Republican Senate caucus would be voting for Ashcroft -- and they did. No ifs ands and buts.
Daschle will make all sorts of comments about how he needs to let some senators vote against the majority of Democrats because of the political climate in their home states. But the two moderate Maine senators -- Collins and Snowe -- repeatedly vote with the majority Republican position, as they did on Ashcroft, even when their vote is way out of step with the moderate/independent climate of Maine. Yet, they are both still immensely popular.
So what is Tom Daschle's problem?
Well, as we have noted in the past, Daschle, on his own website wrote the following shortly after Bush's inauguration:
"What a historic weekend for all of America. On Saturday I had the privilege of participating in the swearing in of America's 43rd President, George W. Bush. While President Bush and I have some honest philosophical differences that won't prevent us from working closely together as the 107th Congress opens its session this week. I am looking forward to it. Working together in a true bipartisan spirit we can accomplish great things for South Dakota and all of America. ... Shortly after the swearing in Senator Lott and I called the 107th Congress to order so that we could confirm the first seven of President Bush's cabinet choices. This was easy work as President Bush has done an excellent job with his cabinet selections. On Saturday, we confirmed Secretaries Colin Powell (Secretary of State), Paul O'Neill (Treasury), Ann Veneman (Agriculture), Don Evans (Commerce), Rod Paige (Education), Spence Abraham (Energy), and Don Rumsfeld (Defense). I met with almost all of these nominees in the previous weeks and I am enthusiastic about the chance to work closely with them."
In short, Daschle praised ALL of Bush's cabinet nominees. He promised to accomplish great things with Bush on behalf of South Dakota. And therein lies the rub.
Bush won South Dakota in 2000 by 60% to 38%. Now let's take a look at Trent Lott's Home state of Mississippi: Bush won Mississippi by 58% to 41% in 2000. Are you starting to get the picture? Daschle's home state is more pro-Bush than Trent Lott's home state.
Therein lies Daschle's challenge: How to be leader of the Democrats in the senate while still watching his red state backside.
Herein lies our challenge. It's not our problem; it's Tom Daschle's problem. If he can't lead the Democrats -- if he insists on only limply putting up a fight against the Bush Cartel steamroller -- he should step aside now.
Miguel Estrada -- like Clarence Thomas, John Ashcroft and Ted Olson -- has given disingenuous testimony before Congress as to his beliefs on various issues that he might rule on as a judge. Some would even argue that they all lied, at various points, in their individual testimony. But Daschle never made any big deal out of the American people being misled.
Everyone concedes that Estrada is probably going to be Bush's first Supreme Court nominee. He is a full-fledged member of the Bush right wing extremist "I'll fall on my sword" for the Bush Cartel loyalty squad. Karl Rove figures that if the Democrats put up a fight, the White House will play the "Hispanic card," and Daschle and the Dems will cave in. Rove's probably right. He knows how to play hardball, while Daschle prefers a leisurely game of softball.
Tom Daschle didn't contest Bush's theft of the 2000 election, even though it was a broad daylight heist brazenly led and articulated by Tony "the fixer" Scalia. Over the past decade, the right wing Republican takeover of the judicial and prosecutorial branch of our democracy has had a ruinous effect. From the Jesse Helms engineered firing of Robert Fisk (as a result of a conversation with David Sentelle, a federal judge who oversaw the Independent Council's office) who was about to close up the Whitewater investigation for lack of evidence and the Helms engineered hiring of Ken "hit man" Starr; to the involvement of Judge Silberman in the Clinton impeachment process (while he was a sitting judge); to the recent ruling of Judge Bates (a freshly minted federal judge who came out of Ken Starr's shop) that let Cheney keep his energy papers secret from the public; to Ashcroft's violation of civil rights being upheld by a special federal judicial panel (on which Sentelle and Silberman sit); to the Scalia orchestrated theft of a presidential election....Well, you get the picture. The Democrats and the Constitutional rights of Americans are being dismantled one by one by a right wing Federalist Society cabal appointed, for life, to the federal bench.
The Grand Hypocrisy Party has been very up-front about its determination to pack the courts with ideological zealots who will, like moles, be placed in the federal courts to make rulings favorable to the Republican Party and its right wing agenda.
Tom Daschle hasn't shown the guts or inclination to put a halt to this juggernaut. If the Democrats don't filibuster the Estrada nomination, they will be mince meat for just about anything meaningful that comes through the senate, except some environmental issues that Lott might let some "moderate" Republicans go their own way on.
But the Republicans know what they are doing in trying to ram through stealth right wing operatives as judges. They are in the process of controlling every branch of government. And with control of the federal bench -- and the Supreme Court down the line -- they will be able to overturn legislation even if Democrats retake control of Congress. They will be able to give a green light to endless investigations of a future Democratic president. They are the fifth column of the Republican extremists, who will be on the bench for life to provide a "fail safe" system for the ideological activists.
So here Tom Daschle goes again, with his namby pamby "I really don't know if we have enough votes" routine. Tom may be saving his butt in South Dakota with this sort of milquetoast public display of his political impotence, but it's saving the Constitution and democracy as we know it that BuzzFlash and its readers are worried about.
Miguel Estrada is the line in the sand. Both parties -- and the White House -- know if the Democrats don't stop Estrada, just about all of the Bush Cartel's right wing "Stepford" nominees are going to get through.
Tom Daschle better decide the future of America comes before his electoral future in South Dakota. If he can't lead a herd of cats, he should step down from his position as minority leader and just be a mouse.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
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Contact Your Senator and Tell Him or Her to Filibuster Estrada's nomination, before it's too late for us all. Here are some sites that have tools for contacting your senators. (Please note that a phone call or fax at this time is preferable to an e-mail. E-mail is not always read or tallied by Congressional offices, according to BuzzFlash sources.):
also recommends: "Tom Daschle, Too Little, Too Late,
otherwise noted, all original