December 11, 2002
Tom Daschle, Too Little, Too Late, As Usual
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
If you look at Tom Daschle's statement on Trent Lott last week, it could have been made by George W. Bush.
We hate to say it, but it's true.
At first, Daschle shrugged off Lott's support of the pro-segregation, pro-lynching Dixiecrat Party. "There are a lot of times when he and I go to the mike and would like to say things we meant to say differently, and I'm sure this is one of those cases for him as well," Daschle said.
A few days later, after the Internet press, including BuzzFlash, expressed its outrage at Lott -- and Daschle's enabling comment -- Daschle compounded his lack of condemnation, with a carefully worded, slightly more critical statement, but still inexcusably tepid: "Regardless of how [Lott] intended his statement to be interpreted, it was wrong to say, and I strongly disagree with it."
Come again! "Regardless of how [Lott] intended his statement..." How do you think he intended it, Tom?
In a third statement, after the Black Congressional Caucus expressed its displeasure at Tom's indifference to Lott's racism, Daschle ratcheted up his feelings about Lott's comment to the pro forma level of "concern." "The question Senator Lott needs to answer is, if he did not mean to endorse segregation, what did he mean?" Daschle asked.
Daschle, apparently with a straight face, said he was "troubled that President Bush has remained silent and has not personally renounced these statements. The president should make clear that there is no place for any such sentiments in the Republican Party or anywhere else in America today."
Come again! Tom, weren't you the one that said, in essence, no big deal, we all misspeak sometime? Weren't you the one that initially expressed not an iota of outrage on behalf of Blacks who are still struggling against the like of the Trent Lotts of the world? Weren't you the one whose first instincts were to stand by Trent Lott and temporarily abandon the core constituency and civil rights values of the Democratic Party?
Of course, Daschle, who seems all calculation, even when he has an occasional outburst of "indignation," was doing his usual "catch up." (Although he did seem genuinely angered when Bush accused him of being a threat to the national security.) The Black Congressional delegation was furious that once again the Democratic leadership had let a Republican get away with comments promoting the worst period and sentiments in American history. The Democratic leadership let Ashcroft get away with neo-confederacy comments. They let Sonny Perdue get away with them when he ran successfully for Governor of Georgia. They let George Bush get away with code words of "states rights" and the like -- and the appointment of neo-confederacy judges.
Heck, the list is too long. After all, the Republican Party since Nixon has been built around capturing the neo-confederacy white male vote. The Democrats, led by the insipid DLC, has largely abandoned Black voters in order to mush up its message in the unachievable hope of capturing the elusive "affirmative-action- for-white-males-keep-women-and-minorities-in-their-place-pro-gun vote."
Come again! These guys are the Clinton haters, the Rush Limbaugh listeners, the NRA members, the Christian Coalition, the racists. Message to the Democratic Party: They are never going to vote for you in a national election! The neo-confederacy GOP has the votes of these guys sewn up.
Of course, every time there's an election, Daschle, McAuliffe and the rest of the Democratic poobahs expect the Black voters to turn out and vote against the nasty Republicans. Then the Democratic leaders are surprised when Black voters stay home because they are wondering, rightfully so, "what have the Democrats done for us lately?"
Daschle let the Black Congressional delegation down when they protested the theft of election 2000, and Tom left them hanging out to dry. He traded not challenging a stolen presidency in order to get better committee ratios in the then 50-50 Senate. It was left to Black representatives to courageously -- and futilely -- attempt to stand up for democracy and the man who won the presidency by more than 540,000 votes: Al Gore.
Daschle also, apparently, struck a deal to green light almost all of the Bush cabinet appointees.
If you doubt BuzzFlash's opinion, read Tom Daschle's website homepage just after Bush's inauguration (this is copied word for word from his homepage just after January 20th):
"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. In keeping with that bipartisan spirit I look forward to my first meeting with President Bush at the White House this Wednesday. This will be the first of many meetings between the President and me as we hope to keep our lines of communication open (just as I do with Republican Leader Trent Lott; we even have a direct line to each other's offices).
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."
Come again! "This was easy work as President Bush has done an excellent job with his cabinet selections."
Excuse us, while we take a deep breath and calm ourselves down.
Okay, we are done hyperventilating. (By the way, we can't really cover all our frustrations with Tom Daschle in one editorial, so we plan at least two more in the near future. And, yes, there are some things we do like about him.) For the moment, let's return to Tom and Trent.
Now, let's acknowledge for the moment that Tom Daschle is no doubt a true Democrat in his personal support of civil rights. But let's look at the way Daschle publicly handled the Trent Lott/Strom Thurmond love fest:
Tom initially embraced Trent Lott, who is not only a racist, but has been
a tireless leader in the scum-pond guerrilla assaults on democracy and
the Democrats in particular.
Is Tom just playing the collegial chump -- or did he trade something off for supporting Trent Lott "in his hour of need"?
BuzzFlash used to praise Tom for playing a good Senate insiders' game. Now, we've changed our opinion.
After two years in which he has caved into the Bush Cartel on taxes, the suppression of civil liberties, a virtual free pass to the Bush administration on the energy scandals (including Enron), the failure to filibuster John Ashcroft, the failure to subpoena Bush officials for a wide variety of potential legalities, his assistance in pumping up Bush's "invincible" image, the loss of the Senate through a strategy of "risk averse" politics, the failure to make the principled and pragmatic case against a rush to war with Iraq, his refusal to challenge the theft of the election 2000, his inability to convey any distinguishing vision from the Republicans, his inability to offer a comprehensive alternative economic policy, his unwillingness to engage in a muscular battle with the junk yard dogs of the Grand Hypocrisy Party, the failure to achieve a truly independent 9/11 investigation commission, his failure to make an issue of the Bush appointment of felons to important positions, his unwillingness to make an issue of the Big Brother proposed TIPS Program that would have sent citizens spying into our homes, his unwillingness to denounce all of Bush's nepotism appointments (including -- but not limited to -- the offspring of Scalia, Rehnquist and Cheney), his unwillingness or inability to point out that the Admiral "Felon" Poindexter Orwellian invasion of privacy "data collection" system is unacceptable and must be stopped.... You want more, well we will get to more in our upcoming editorials on Tom Daschle.
(And we don't want to hear from Tom's press secretary that he made a statement about such-and-such on such-and-such a date. This isn't about copying-machine government. This is about passion, vision, leadership, democracy and justice. This is about caring and commitment. This is about being willing to battle for your beliefs -- and not play some little insider's chess game that gives the Democrats a few more chairs in the Senate dining room.)
But, in short, Daschle has squandered the chance for the Democrats to put the Bush Cartel on the defensive. In fact, Daschle fumbled almost every opportunity to launch a proactive offensive party strategy. He, for a short time, had the investigative powers that come with being the Senate majority -- and he did virtually nothing. He let the Bush Cartel off the hook again and again.
About the only issue the Senate Democrats took a serious stand on was voting down a couple of Federalist neo-confederacy Bush bench appointees.
But amongst all his missed opportunities of the last two years, Daschle's failure to promptly and vigorously condemn Trent Lott for expressing nostalgia for a time and a man that promoted segregation and condoned lynching -- well that's the one that really hurts, right in the gut.
Amidst the death from a thousand cuts, that's the knife wound that went right to the heart.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
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BuzzFlash Note: Our next editorial on Tom Daschle will be entitled, "The Daschle Dilemma." Does the fact that South Dakota voted 60% for Bush and only 38% for Al Gore keep Tom Daschle on a "red state" leash? We'll let you be the judge.
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