How To Respond To The GOP's 60-Day Agenda
Bush finally copped to the secret CIA rendition and detention program today when he announced that 14 high-value detainees would be moved from these secret sites to Guantanamo for trials conducted under new rules still to be hammered out by a divided GOP Congress. But at least Harry Reid had the right response today:
“Democrats welcome the Bush Administration’s long-overdue decision to try some of the alleged masterminds of the September 11th attacks and other hideous terrorist acts,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader.
“For five years, Democrats have stood ready to work with the President and the Republican Congress to establish sound procedures to bring terrorists to justice,” Mr. Reid said. “Unfortunately, President Bush ignored the advice of our uniformed military and set up a flawed system that failed to prosecute a single terrorist and was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Of course, Bush could have sent his revised policy over to Congress during the summer in the immediate aftermath of his Supreme Court smack down, but that would have deprived the White House of a chance to dump this on Congress and then blame the out-of-power Democrats for not acting upon it in 30 days in the midst of a crowded agenda. I know that sounds illogical given that the GOP controls Congress and could have run this through by now instead of waiting for the White House, but that is exactly the Rove strategy here: blame the Democrats for something they cannot control.
My advice here for Democrats is to play ball with Bush on both the detention policies and the NSA wiretapping issues by letting McCain and Specter take the lead respectively. There is no political gain for Democrats to pick a fight with Bush on either issue these last 60 days when the whole GOP strategy counts on just such a fight. The Democrats should avoid a fight on these issues, support the Casey 12-18 month Iraq support plan tied to an international security conference and a “no permanent bases/no permanent troops” resolution, and then swing the agenda back to protecting Social Security, improving the economy, investigating the oil companies, eliminating a rubber-stamp Congress, and restoring public confidence in the direction of this country.
Whatever bad policies Bush and the GOP put into place now on detention policies and NSA wiretapping can be revisited with a Democratic Congress next year when Bush's poll numbers will be touching the high twenties.