February 11, 2003
For Tom Daschle, Is His Lack of Effective Leadership Opposing Miguel Estrada Deja Vu All Over Again? You Bet.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
On Tuesday, Tom Daschle is convening a meeting of Senate Democrats to see if there is "enough interest" to mount a filibuster against the Bush nomination of Ted Olson's soul mate, Miguel Estrada, to the federal bench. If his history of timidity -- and South Dakota red state "moderation" -- is any guide, Daschle will announce that the votes aren't there for a filibuster. Why won't the 40 votes be there? Because Daschle doesn't really want them to be there. He's not interested in putting up too much of a visible fight against the Bush Cartel. He is the Senate minority leader Democratic senators love because he asks almost nothing of them, which makes his designation as a "leader" almost an oxymoron.
Daschle has won some minor technical victories against the Republicans, but he has lost almost every key battle. We don't need leaders who can best the Bush Cartel in a few skirmishes, while losing almost every major showdown.
Daschle retook the Senate, when Jeffords jumped from the GOP ship of fools. Then he did virtually nothing with majority control except enable the Bush administration. (See: http://www.buzzflash.com/editorial/03/02/06.html; http://www.buzzflash.com/contributors/03/02/08_Daschle.html; http://www.buzzflash.com/editorial/2002/12/11.html)
If the Democrats don't mount a filibuster against Miguel Estrada, the Bush Cartel will slice through them like a hot knife through butter for the next two years.
If any BuzzFlash reader wants to know why Daschle's lack of leadership against Miguel Estrada is -- as New York Yankees Great Yogi Bera noted -- deja vu all over again, just recall Daschle's wimpish enabling of the Ashcroft nomination by failing to lead a filibuster against our Cisco oil-annointed Attorney General.
The following BuzzFlash editorial was written and posted in January of 2001, shortly before Daschle presented only token opposition to Ashcroft.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
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Where is the Justice?
The Republicans so dominate the Washington power structure now that they will have their way and confirm an Attorney General who committed perjury during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Because of the deal he apparently struck with Trent Lott and the White House, Tom Daschle will only allow token resistance. Thus, the Democrats will once again be enablers to a travesty of justice.
It is a lamentable and pathetic strategy to argue, as Daschle is doing today, that the Democrats want to muster at least 30 votes to "show" Bush that they are a force to be reckoned with. If Bush is jamming an extreme right wing agenda down the throat of America after losing the popular vote and losing the electoral vote (with the exception of the Supreme Court placing him in office), he's not going to give a damn about a little gesture of defiance on the part of the Democrats. In fact, they will be tittering at the White House about the futility of the whole Democratic approach to Ashcroft. The Republicans know that winning is everything --and idle threats are merely the flailing gestures of an opposition in disarray.
There is not a Democratic Senator, even among those who are opposing him, who will stand up and tell the truth: John Ashcroft, who postures himself as an "honest" man and a man of "integrity," perjured himself in his testimony. If this were a Democratic candidate for attorney general, Dan Burton would be holding hearings by now, Tom DeLay would be calling for an impeachment process, and Trent Lott would be demanding a Special Prosecutor. But the Democrats, for the most part, act as if it never happened.
The Republicans know that the Democrats don't have the spine to just call this tragic farce for what it is: an act of raw brazen hypocrisy. Bush and the Republicans know that they can roll the Democrats anytime they want. The Republicans don't care if 30 or even 40 Democrats vote against Ashcroft. They know that the Democrats don't have the guts to mount a filibuster.
Call Bush what you will, his handlers know that winning is everything. This is a lesson that the Democrats still can't learn.
The problem for the Democrats is that now they are perceived as so weak, they won't be able to draw over moderate Republicans or "centrist" Democrats. Senators, like people as a whole, gravitate toward winners. You want to be with the camp that can protect your interests and your future. That may explain why Tom Daschle himself is cozying up so close to Bush, writing weekly love notes to the President Select on his homepage.
Daschle could have put up a fight, but waffled until the very end when it didn't really matter. Like all Democrats, he's sucker enough to keep his "word" to the Bush camp even after they humiliated him by revealing that he told Bush that the Democrats wouldn't block any of his nominations. He got kicked in the balls and he still thinks the political game is about honor and keeping your word.
As a result of the failure of the Democratic leadership to protect the interests and values of its core constituents, the Bush camp knows that they can have their way anytime they want. Bush has shown, from his first act of reviving the gag rule on family planning and abortion, that you need to protect your own. The Democrats, led by Daschle, don't seem to have any compunction about throwing their voters to the wolves.
For that reason, the token Democratic protest that Daschle is forecasting doesn't presage some larger grand strategy to oppose right wing Supreme Court nominees. What it shows Bush is that he can nominate David Duke for the Supreme Court, if that's what he wants, and the Democrats will wring their hands and -- in the end -- lose once again.
David Duke sitting between Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, now that would make for quite a photograph. Get your cameras ready!
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
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Buzzflash Note: While we are at it, we are re-posting another editorial we wrote and posted on the Ashcroft nomination, back at the beginning of 2001.
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Bush May Not be a Bookish Guy, But He Sure Knows Orwell
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
It’s 16 years after the predicted date, but 1984 has finally arrived. And a hard rain’s a gonna fall.
The head of People for the American Way says that only Jesse Helms has a worse record on civil rights than the man who Bush has nominated as attorney general, John Ashcroft. Phyllis Schlafly loves Johnny A. to pieces though, which should tell you more than you want to know right off the bat.
Our next attorney general is anti-choice, pro-Christian conservative, anti-civil rights, and pro-gun just for starters. He is an NRA made man, and no doubt looks forward to receiving legal guidance on the Second Amendment from Charlton Heston. If you wanted to find a guy who is in the Amen chorus for Falwell and Robertson, but who has a senatorial look that goes over well in collegial confirmation hearings, then Ashcroft is your man.
Bush had the gall to assert that Ashcroft "will be faithful to the law, pursuing justice without favor. He will enforce the law and will follow the truth." It's a perverted Orwellian turn of the phrase. Ashcroft outdid his benefactor when he asserted "We will strive to be a guardian of liberty and equal justice. For freedom, as President-elect Bush has noted, can flourish only in a culture defined by the rule of law, a rule of law that knows no class, that sees no color, and bows to no creed."
Of course, every word is dripping with sneering cynicism. Ashcroft was the Senator who viciously fought the appointment of a black judge, rated highly qualified by the Bar Association, to the federal court, using lies to derail his nomination by President Clinton. As Missouri's Attorney General, he opposed even a VOLUNTARY desegregation plan for St. Louis schools. And just last year he proudly accepted an honorary degree from Bob Jones University.
Journalist Joshua Micah Marshall recently revealed an appalling statement by Ashcroft that only reconfirms the worst fears: "Back in 1998 Ashcroft gave an interview to Southern Partisan magazine in which he said that ''traditionalists must do more'' to defend Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee. ''We've all got to stand up and speak in this respect," Ashcroft continued, "or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda.''
Hey, in BuzzFlash's book, as Marshall notes, slavery is a perverted agenda. But obviously not for Mr. Ashcroft. The Southern Partisan is a "Southern Heritage" publication that sugar coats its racism.
BuzzFlash can go on forever about the reprehensible corrosion of language used by Bush to portray Ashcroft as a man of the "highest integrity." We have entered the world of Orwellian doublespeak, where the noblest of terms mean their most sinister antonym. Orwell's 1984 has arrived. It just took 16 years longer than the author expected.
And what are the Democratic Senators doing? As a BuzzFlash reader notes in a commentary posted in Tuesday’s edition, they are mostly playing the role of doormats. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is promising tough pro forma questioning, but not much more. More reflective of the Democratic “roll over and take it” strategy is New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli, who is emerging as the de facto leader of the appeasement wing of the Democratic party. “While I have obvious philosophical differences with John Ashcroft, his ability and integrity can’t be questioned,” Torricelli said.
The Democrats are once again lining up to let Bush get away with his corruption of values and language. Democrats need to understand that if you don’t call a lie a lie, it becomes the truth. We may have four years of Orwellian truth.
In many respects, it already has arrived. Didn't we have five pro-Bush Supreme Court justices stop a recount because it “might undermine the legitimacy” of the man who probably lost the election. Is anything more Orwellian than asserting, as Antonin Scalia did, that there should be no recount because if Gore were found to have received more votes it would undermine the “legitimacy” of a Bush presidency? In short, we can’t let the people know that the man the Supreme Court is installing in the White House actually lost the election. That would hurt his ability to govern, no doubt, by letting people know that he was the “illegitimate” President, a usurper.
At this very moment, the greatest threat to America is the corruption of the very values and legal system that we have held in common, the desecration of the sacred language of democracy, those noble words that are now being used to throw a tarp of respectability over the appalling truth. And the Democratic Congressional leadership is enabling our entrance into this Orwellian world with hardly a whimper.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
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Final BuzzFlash Note: We would love to be proven wrong by Tom Daschle. Show us you have some guts Tom and lead a filibuster against Estrada. Lean on some wavering Democratic senators to join the party and stay the course. Surprise us.
But forgive us if we are like someone who has been jilted over and over again by their lovers. When it comes to Democrats having cojones, we've learned to be prepared for disappointment.
otherwise noted, all original