Monday, November 05, 2007

Useless Democrats explained

I was going to write about something else, but this is just too good to pass up. DailyKos is a funny place. There is a reason it's not linked to the right, though I admit I read it daily. It has a lot of nice content but is also depressing in the naivete so often displayed there by certain members.

Democrats in the House and Senate are doing a lousy job, and in many ways are more compliant than the previous Republican Congress. I won't argue that in this post beyond pointing out that Democrats have supported every one of Bush's Constitution-destroying power grabs. (Though you can read previous posts on the subject)

In a previous post I looked at some explanations for the Democrats' behavior. But now I have it right from the horse's mouth, in the form of a DailyKos diary called In Defense of Nancy Pelosi. It's worth looking at both the post and the subsequent comments, as they nicely illustrate the mindsets of those who support the utter failure of the Democratic leadership.

Nancy Pelosi has the difficult and often competing tasks of not just trying to enact new legislation now but also of trying to create a climate for the election of a Democratic president in 2008. "But the majority of the people want what we want" is the frustrated cry of so many on here "Why can’t Pelosi deliver?" Yes, the majority of people want to end the Iraq war, but it is a skittish opinion and insecure in its willingness to accept the concept of defeat – even self-inflicted defeat through mal-administration.

Translation: The Democratic Congress was elected with a mandate to end the Iraq War, the majority of Americans want to end the Iraq War, but that opinion is "skittish" due to murky psychological reasons and thus not ending the Iraq War somehow makes sense. After all, that's only why the Democrats were elected.

Maybe it was just me, in my country bumpkin way in the hills of Wales three thousand miles away, that was so surprised to find, after the euphoria of taking control of Congress, that a firm minority and a stubborn President could combine to veto those policies that had suddenly seemed attainable.

Refresher: to pass bills over a veto you need two-thirds. To vote down bills you need one-half. The Democrats have one-half. (And we won't even get into filibusters and the like) This is Middle School material.

Democrats chose to affirmatively vote for FISA "fixes." They chose to affirmatively vote for more Iraq War funding time and time again. Democrats will vote to confirm Mukasey and will probably vote for telecom immunity. The President does not have the power to revive a bill that has been voted down; he does not have to power to reverse-veto failed legislation. To defeat these bills and appointments Democrats must merely not vote for them -- yet they do vote for them, and prominent Democrats, including the Democratic leadership, are often the first to cave.

Now we get to the centerpiece argument:

Since then, despite Bush, despite the solidarity of the Republican vote, much has been achieved in Congress by her. I will criticise the level of that achievement freely with many of you, I will question the effectiveness of the tactics, and I will certainly bewail some of the outcomes. That is my job as a writer on Daily Kos, that is our entire job as radicals. I will do so without having to modify those views by obscuring them with the obfuscation that is called political realities. I ask only that we do not do the Republican job for them by disparaging personally our leaders, whether they be leaders of the Senate Majority or Primary candidates struggling to enunciate our views against a GOP back-cloth of deliberate misinterpretation and a superficially influenced electorate. That is not our job on Daily Kos nor anywhere else where we are fighting for our ideas.

What is "our job" on DailyKos exactly? I wasn't aware that DailyKos paid by the hour to shill for Democrats.

Despite the pledge to the opposite, this is the ultimate invocation of "political realities" -- that we must carry water for Bush enablers in the same way Rush Limbaugh and John McCain carried water for them before the 2006 elections. McCain kept his unhappiness with the Iraq War private, jeopardizing American lives and strategic interests in a failed attempt to keep Republicans at the Congressional helm. That is what this Kos diarist is advocating: we must put a happy face on the situation and allow it to deteriorate further, in the hopes that the future will bring better things.

This thinking is wrong on multiple levels. From a strategic standpoint our failed Congress makes the election of a Democrat in 2008 less likely as that candidate will be associated with those weak-willed enablers. Further a Democrat may not be elected in 2008, or a Democrat elected in 2008 may not be a significant change. The Democratic Congress promised much and delivered little; now we are told that we should double-down on a Democratic President as well.

Fool me once, fool me twice.

The diary above includes the note "[Promoted by DHinMI]." Such a tantalizing morsel, if you are familiar with DHinMI, and sure enough he wastes no time infesting the comments section of the diary with his own brand of do-nothing defenses.

DHinMI posts are a primer in total leadership failure. Poll-driven with no imagination or affirmative agenda DHinMI is incapable of conceptualizing a drive to change public opinion rather than be dictated by it. Public opinion is based on media messages and that opinion can be changed through effort and new messaging -- a concept Republicans grasp very well while Democrats often remain oblivious.

This Two Year Period Was About Preventing... damage. We aren't going to end the war with Bush in office, because the only way to do that is to completely cut off all funding, and the public is hostile to that idea, so the Dems won't even consider it.

Textbook do-nothing reasoning: polls show the public is against something, so instantly give up.

When Republicans wanted to oppose the estate tax they renamed it the "death tax." When they wanted to oppose capital gains taxes they claimed they were "double taxation." (Despite the fact that transferred assets are taxed an infinite number of times in our taxation system.) When they wanted to let Scooter Libby off the hook they claimed that Valerie Plame was a non-covert glorified secretary hen-pecking her husband while Libby was a patriotic hero with a lifetime of valuable service who had committed "no underlying crime." They did not just read the polls on those issues -- they drove the polls. They researched in front of focus groups (no joke) to hit on the right formulations and messages that would resonate with the public, then saturated op-eds and the airwaves with them to great success.

To people like DHinMI public opinion is set in stone and simply congeals from the surrounding ether without explanation or reason. If people are against impeachment today, they'll be against it tomorrow, period. If people are against cutting funding for the Iraq War today they'll be against it tomorrow, even if today they don't understand what that defunding means. This is what DHinMI has to say on Pelosi ruling impeachment off-the-table:

The Public Doesn't Want Impeachment
The Senate won't convict.
Period. That simple equation has never changed, and won't this Congress.

And again:

Oh, So Impeachment or Failure
She knows how to read a poll, and she knows how to count non-existent Republican votes in the Senate.

Those poll-reading Democrats -- gotta love 'em! God forbid attempting to change public opinion rather than be enslaved by it. You know, to "politick" for things. These people take inspiration not from The Devil and Daniel Webster but from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

The case for impeachment is strong and remarkably as many support it as oppose it already. Convince some of the rest. The public is tired of the Iraq War; convince it that cutting funding is safe and effective. Make an affirmative case.

Time and time again the Democrats are unable to convince the public that they are right, even when the public already agrees with them in broad scope -- and most of the time they don't even bother trying. At the same time a President with a 24% approval rating can repeatedly convince Democrats to go along with him on his major proposals using nonsensical terrorist hyperbole that was old five years ago.

What happens if a Republican is elected in 2008? We write off the last two years of Democratic control of Congress as squandered for nothing?

This is a bit meaner than my normal stuff but I don't think there is a good way around that while still addressing the topic without relying on abstracts. DHinMI is a prominent DailyKos poster and these comments are not cherry-picked to prove a point, they are representative of a consistent worldview.
The picture is just plain silly.

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