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8/3/02


 

THE FOOL ON THE HILL

By David Podvin

Dear Senator Daschle,

In an attempt to appease your tantrum-throwing conservative colleagues, you recently agreed to allow the confirmation of fourteen right wing zealots as federal judges. The Senate Republicans have graciously responded by confirming one of your cronies to a seat on the Federal Communications Commission. As a result of this deal, the U.S. Court of Appeals - the layer of the judiciary immediately below the Supreme Court - will lurch in the direction of those who believe that cross burning is artistic expression and the Theory of Evolution is a communist plot.

By trading fourteen lifetime federal judgeships for one seven-year FCC appointee, you have just made the shrewdest move since Stu Sutcliffe quit the Beatles in 1961. It appears as though I owe Bush an apology – apparently, he’s not the dumbest guy in Washington.

What an outrageous abandonment of your stated principles. What an indefensible betrayal of the people whom you claim to represent. What an appalling example of how your compulsion to capitulate dominates every other consideration.

And how typical.

Since you became majority leader in 2001, your party has been in full-scale retreat. You have defaulted on issues ranging from the economy to civil liberties to national defense. Your promise to be a vigilant guardian of personal freedom during the War on Terrorism was broken as soon as the right wing questioned your patriotism, whereupon you crumbled like a handful of Saltines.

You claim to be making the best of a bad situation, and that the highest priority is retaining control of the Senate so the Republicans don’t have a complete stranglehold on the federal government. But in the name of preserving the Senate majority for the Democratic Party, you have discarded the majority of the principles of the Democratic Party.

The Republicans constantly cry that you are an “obstructionist”, which to the casual observer must indicate that you are giving them a hard time. If only it were true. In the conservative lexicon  “obstructionist” means you are only yielding to them almost all of the time.

Twelve of your Pseudocrat colleagues joined with Bush last year to completely defund the Democratic agenda by giving almost two trillion dollars in tax breaks to the rich. As majority leader, you have done nothing to attempt to roll back this confiscation of the American domestic agenda by the right wing. Despite all of the blather about “protecting the interests of the working people”, your allegiance is not to the average citizens who vote for your party - it is to Zell Miller and the eleven other political transvestites who dress up as Democratic senators.

No one in America is more responsible for the high approval ratings of George W. Bush than you. You have figuratively and literally embraced him while he has used 9/11 as a pretext to turn America into that Shining Gulag on a Hill. In doing so, you not only failed in your duty to provide loyal opposition, you also made it untenable for other Democrats to dissent.

You have disingenuously claimed to be severely hamstrung in opposing a popular wartime president, while neglecting to mention that Bush could not possibly have attained such popularity if there were a viable opposition party to challenge his irresponsible behavior. Opinion surveys show that most Americans believe he is wrong on most of the major issues, yet he continues to receive strong support because you have failed to provide an alternative.

And excuse me for committing the social faux pas of obsessively raising this tired old subject again, but I haven’t gotten over it yet: Who cleared the final roadblock to Bush stealing the election? Who instructed his colleagues to refuse to support the Congressional Black Caucus’ challenge of the Bush election fraud?

You claimed pragmatism dictated your surrender to Bush on his theft of the presidency. The G.O.P. would have had the ability to defeat a challenge by ramming him through on a straight party-line vote. They offered you greater parliamentary privileges if you just dropped the little stolen election thing. Therefore, the only possible reasons you could have had to confront Bush on his rape of our democracy would have been a) your strong general commitment to the principle of universal suffrage, and b) your intense feeling of specific moral obligation to Democratic voters who were cheated out of the right to have their ballots counted.

You chose the parliamentary privileges. From that day to this, the most consistent adversaries of Bush have been John McCain, who is a Republican, and Larry Klayman, who is a psychotic. As the supposed leader of the ostensible opposition party, this must make you very proud.

There have been two shining moments for the Democrats you so feebly lead. The first was the defeat of the Bush proposal to allow Exxon Mobil to turn the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge into Death Valley North. The second was the defeat of segregationist judge Charles Pickering to the appellate court. In each case, your team of gerbils did the right thing only after being threatened with electoral death by key constituency groups – environmentalists and blacks. They told you that, if you followed your natural instincts and caved into the G.O.P, then you would have to get your future political support from the American Petroleum Institute and the Ku Klux Klan. So, on these two occasions, you capitulated to the good guys. Even when you do something right, you do so by knuckling under.

Rather than constantly appeasing Trent Lott, have you ever considered going on national TV and talking about how his membership in a group that advocates slavery casts doubt on his judgment and character? This might put him on the defensive, and would have the additional benefit of standing up for your party’s most loyal constituency: those of us who oppose involuntary servitude. Then again, such an action would place a strain on the “constructive working relationship” you have with your Republican counterpart, who has repeatedly accused you of committing treason.

You are reportedly considering a run for the presidency in 2004. Please don’t. Democrats desperately need another President Harry Truman, who was willing to fight for the little guy at the expense of his own popularity. The last thing that is now needed is Democratic presidential nominee Barney Fife. Bush can only be defeated by someone aggressive who is willing to throw aside the Marquis of Queensbury rules and respond to each malicious low blow by administering an even more malicious and lower blow.

“2004 Democratic presidential nominee Lorena Bobbit” has a nice ring to it.

Last year, I wrote a parody about how the Senate Democrats would react to a bill that proposed putting all of them to sleep. In that fantasy, you refused to filibuster the legislation because you didn’t want to destroy the spirit of bipartisanship. Ultimately, ol’ Zell cast the deciding vote in favor of the proposal, and all of you Democratic senators were condemned to death. I was accused by some readers of going “over the top” in trying to drive home the point that bipartisanship had become a convenient excuse for you to collapse on issue after issue.

Unfortunately, your cowardice makes satire impossible. This year, you and your Democratic colleagues have been the targets of anthrax mailings. The Bush administration has done nothing to apprehend the perpetrators, or to stop them from trying to kill you again. And yet, even in this most extreme of circumstances, you continue to pledge “my full support for my president”.

Okay. If it doesn’t bother you that Bush is willing to allow people to get away with trying to murder you, then it doesn’t bother me, either. I must object, however, when you fail to oppose his continuing efforts to kill the Bill Of Rights.

I would like to conclude by calling for your resignation as Majority Leader. Unfortunately, I can’t think of a single Democratic senator who is capable of experiencing the moral indignation required to lead your colleagues into battle against a conservative movement that is intent on enacting policies damaging to the average citizen. Joe Biden does hate women’s groups, and John Breaux expresses outrage toward anyone who votes against Republicans, but I was thinking more in terms of the Bobby Kennedy type: someone who actually cares about Democrats and is so “ruthless” in defending them that he provides right wingers with a legitimate rationale for their paranoia.

Then again, we all know what happens to the Bobby Kennedy type. Every action of yours indicates that you have decided it’s much safer to reject his outdated philosophy of passionately fighting on behalf of the powerless American majority. Instead, you have chosen the somewhat less swashbuckling approach of going along to get along.

Yet, even with you passively coiled in the fetal position, someone still tried to kill you. Maybe it’s time to take a stand, before it’s too late. You can start by defending yourself. There have been published reports - from England, of course, where the media is not yet entirely owned by conservative conglomerates - that Bush is dragging his feet on the anthrax investigation because it would lead in an embarrassing direction.

You should demand that he provide you with all of the information about the attempts to murder Democratic senators, and when he refuses you should be punitive. Rank and file Democrats will enthusiastically support you, and Rush Limbaugh will have a heart attack, so it’s a win-win situation. Having finally stood up to Bush in order to protect your own life, you might eventually get around to protecting the people who vote for the Democratic Party.

Now there’s a fantasy that really is over the top.

Sincerely,
David Podvin

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