Tuesday :: Jun 12, 2007

Democrats Need An LBJ Now


by Steve

Trent Lott and several of the same Senate Republicans who believed that impeachment was necessary when Clinton lied about his sex life to a grand jury now think that repeated lying by a cabinet officer to Congress and illegal acts in violation of civil service laws are no cause for even debate inside the Senate. We’ve come to expect this kind of hypocritical double standard from the GOP, and yesterday was no different. All that yesterday proved was that 1) Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer showed a lack for the jugular once again; and 2) thanks to yesterday’s performance by the GOP senators, it will now be acceptable for a Democratic cabinet officer in the next Democratic administration to routinely lie to Congress and break the law without a peep from the GOP.

I do agree with Lott and Mitch McConnell that yesterday’s exercise was a waste of time. A “no confidence” vote against Bush’s consigliore is meaningless when nothing less than impeachment was warranted. It should be clear to the Senate leadership that the White House sees nothing wrong with Gonzales’ management at Justice or his lying to Congress. Reid and Schumer misplayed this one, when they should have signaled that the mounting evidence of deceit, ineptitude, politicization of nonpartisan activities, obstruction of justice, and violation of civil services laws by a statutory officer were grounds for impeachment, using the same example that the GOP used with Clinton. It should have been signaled to Bush about a week ago that there would be no immigration bill passed through Congress until Bush replaced Gonzales, especially with the news that Bush and Gonzales have now politicized the hiring of immigration judges.

Telling Bush that he needed to get the votes himself was not enough, but at least Reid learned what he should have done months ago on the Iraq war funding issue: make the GOP carry the load for their agenda. And I would also have signaled to Bush that the House Judiciary Committee was moving ahead with preparing articles of impeachment, now that the hearings have demonstrated a pattern of mismanagement, misdemeanors in the violation of civil service laws, possible obstruction of justice, and routine lying to Congress under oath. They should have told Bush that yes, he was well within his prerogatives to keep an inept lying fraud like Gonzales as his AG, but that a case was being built against him, and that nothing would be getting through Judiciary on immigration, judges, or anything else that Justice was involved in until he dealt with Gonzales or failing that, until he was removed by impeachment.

But just as Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer enabled Joe Lieberman to wreak havoc with the caucus instead of stripping him of his committee chairmanship and making him truly a man without a party, they are also incapable of demonstrating what is really needed here: an LBJ-like ability to use force and take risks when necessary. The current Senate Democratic leadership has mishandled the Iraq debate by failing to force the GOP caucus to shoulder the public scorn for supporting more of the same and calling them out in the open for it. They have allowed the agenda from the 2006 campaign to stall, and instead are allowing punks like Lieberman to get away with his guerilla “in your face” activities while he dawdles and does little as head of the Senate Homeland Security committee. And they have failed to tell Bush that his free ride is over; that he won’t be getting anything the remainder of his term, even his immigration prize, until he shows the slightest concern for the rule of law and telling the truth to Congress.

The truth is that we don’t have an LBJ amongst the current Senate leadership, when such a figure is desperately needed. Instead, we continue to get the amateur hour from Reid and Schumer, a gutless approach towards the felon in the Oval Office coupled with a alarming lack of political judgment and skill in working with the advantages the Democrats already have, or in this case, had. My personal feeling is that Reid is incapable of this, and Schumer is compromised by his own ego and agenda. Dick Durbin could do this however.

It is sad that in 2007 the Senate Democratic leadership has not come to grips with “sound bite” television. Every day, Durbin should be giving a 10-20 second sound bite for the cable and evening news shows to push back against the White House spin or to maintain an attack message. The media should come to expect that they would get a good, hard-hitting clip from Durbin every day. Durbin could tie in the Gonzales/Bush politicization of immigration judges and question Bush’s true commitment to immigration reform. Durbin could ask the White House why does the GOP condone lying to a grand jury by Scooter Libby on national security matters after it impeached a president for lying to a grand jury about his sex life? Why is an Oil Law more important to the White House than everything else in Iraq? The possibilities are endless, and yet we get nothing but bad decisions, gutless cave-ins, and muddled messages.

What's needed now is some aggression and some message discipline, vested in one man.

Steve :: 8:43 AM :: Comments (24) :: Digg It!