May 5, 2003
Tom Daschle Should Resign as Minority Leader of the Senate
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
When the Dixie Chicks show more courage than the senior ranking Democratic leader does, it's time for him to step aside as minority leader of the United States Senate.
We need someone who can challenge Bush's credibility, not bolster it.
Take for instance what the beginning of this article in a South Dakota newspaper, "Daschle Believes Iraq War Justified," does for polishing up Bush's luster (See: http://www.aberdeennews.com/mld/aberdeennews/5768671.htm):
In another recent South Dakota newspaper article, Daschle lauds Bush for his leadership (See: http://www.argusleader.com/washingtonbureau/Fridayfeature.shtml):" Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said Bush deserved 'great credit' for his leadership during the war and praised the work of the military."
That is, as they say, the last straw for BuzzFlash.
We had previously editorialized that if Daschle didn't maintain the filibuster against Estrada, he should resign from his leadership position. (Thus far, he has held the course.) But Daschle's latest pro-Bush comments in South Dakota conclusively indicate that he cannot effectively lead the Democrats of the senate into the 2004 election. If Daschle continues on his present lackluster course, the likelihood is that the Republicans will increase their senate majority in the next election.
In prior editorials about Daschle, we noted how his concern about protecting his "red state" backside caused him to squander a golden opportunity to put the Bush Administration -- and the Republican Party -- on the defensive when the Democrats controlled the senate:
In another BuzzFlash editorial, we took Daschle to task for his failure to use senate investigative powers (while he was majority leader) to expose the unseemly and potentially illegal doings of the Bush administration:
While some Democrats in the House of Representatives, such as John Conyers and Henry Waxman, did everything they could to expose the Bush administration relationship to Enron and the Cheney relationship to energy company corruption, they lacked subpoena power to investigate White House malfeasance. Tom Daschle, as majority leader before the election of 2002 had the subpoena power and sat on his hands, afraid that he might endanger the re-election of Tim Johnson to the senate from South Dakota.
Furthermore, according to a Salon article, Russ Feingold blames Daschle for green lighting Senate Democratic support of the un-American "Patriot Act." Daschle, apparently, didn't want to make waves, and democracy and our Constitution suffered as a result.
If Daschle has failed to create and champion a vigorous Democratic legislative agenda, he is even more negligent in not setting out a Democratic strategy to challenge the Bush administration in the court of public opinion. As a result, he lost control of the senate in the the 2002 elections.
The Bush Cartel rules America through three main public relations techniques: their masterful control of images and slogans (with the cooperation of a compliant media); their ruthlessness; and their ability to define the terms of the debate.
Daschle has not shown the remotest ability or skill set to counter the Karl Rove success in these three key techniques of maintaining power. Whenever Daschle even tentatively criticizes the Bush administration, he backs off immediately after someone from the White House chastises him. Just call him timid Tom.
Tom Daschle may be a nice guy, and he is good senator for South Dakota. But he is an uninspired minority (and former majority) leader of the senate. The Democrats need someone who understands that national politics is now, in large part, a war over images, the willingness to exercise power, and the ability to put the opposition on the defensive. Tom Daschle has failed in all three areas. He spends his time as Senate Democratic leader clueless about how to challenge the subversion of democracy undertaken by the Bush administration. Furthermore, he is always concerned about how anything he says or does will play in South Dakota.
BuzzFlash is not under any illusion that we have sufficient impact to cause Tom Daschle to do the right thing for America's future. All we can do is have the courage to speak out for truth, justice and the American way. If Daschle, however, truly loves this great nation -- and we believe that he does -- we hope that he will seriously consider devoting himself full-time to his 2004 South Dakota re-election campaign, and hand over the senate Democratic leadership to someone who is prepared to put the Bush administration on the defensive.
We can't afford a skittish, tentative Democratic minority leader who spends more time building up Bush's credibility than challenging it. We can't afford a Democratic minority leader who Karl Rove plays with like a cat toying with a mouse.
After all, the future of this great democracy is at stake.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
otherwise noted, all original