The Soft Underbelly of the Democratic Party

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Common Dreams

The Soft Underbelly of the Democratic Party

Here we go again. I was going to write a nice, fun piece about Matt Damon on a lovely Sunday afternoon when the Democrats went and ruined everything, as usual. From time to time, I am told that I am too hard on the Democrats. It is not possible to be too hard on these vacillating, spineless, rudderless, clueless clowns.

Alright, there has to be an important distinction here. Most of the Democrats in the House voted the right way on the latest capitulation to the most unpopular president in history. And 28 Democratic Senators voted the right way. The rest are the biggest bunch of weaklings and half-wits I have ever seen. They are the soft underbelly of the Democratic Party.

How many times do I have to write this article? How many times will these same Democrats give in to the worst president in history? So, this time, they caved on FISA. And they caved big time.

The president has been running an illegal warrantless wiretapping program since 2001. He has been continually and brazenly breaking the FISA law. He finally submitted the program to the FISA court recently. And a FISA judge said earlier this year that the program was not legal. Now how do the Democrats hold the president accountable for breaking this federal law?

Did they impeach him for high crimes and misdemeanors? Did they censure him? Did they cut off funding? No, not only did they not do any of these patently obvious things, but instead, they turned around and changed the law to give him the authority to ignore the courts. How do you not call them weaklings? How am I supposed to take it easy on them? How can this possibly be justified?

They made his illegal actions legal in retrospect. Instead of holding him accountable, they gave him a blank check. If all of this wasn't bad enough, they even removed the provision that the warrantless wiretapping be about an Al Qaeda operative or in some way linked to terrorism. So, the president now has BROADER authority to wiretap anyone who makes or receives a foreign call about ANYTHING.

You have got be asking yourself, why did they do this?! Do they know something we don't? And the answer is unequivocally - no! They know a lot less than you do. They are under the ridiculous assumption that voting against this president on any national security matter would hurt them politically.

You ass clowns, he is the least popular president in history! Nixon spent nowhere near this much time at a 25% approval rating. In fact, when Nixon got to be this unpopular, he was forced to resign. Can you imagine Democrats capitulating to Nixon on critical legislation days before his resignation?

But wait a minute, doesn't our intelligence have to listen into real threats from abroad? Of course!!!! But they can get the easiest warrant on the planet to do that. No court in America would turn down their request to listen on any communication that was even remotely suspicious. But don't they need to act quick on many occasions? Wouldn't a warrant unacceptably slow them down? No, they can act as quick as they want and then get a warrant 72 hours later to make it retroactively legal.

We've been through all this before. All of Bush's excuses for this illegal spying program are pathetic. He can - and he should - do all the spying in the world to keep us safe. All he has to do is run it by a court after the fact to make sure they aren't abusing the civil liberties and the privacy of innocent Americans.

There is absolutely no justification for these Democratic votes that helped Bush make his illegal program legal. On top of abdicating their constitutional responsibility to check an out of control president, they have also done something politically retarded. In one fell swoop, they have capitulated to a grossly unpopular president, justified his talking point that national security is on the line and given Republicans leverage over themselves.

There is no upside. The Republicans will use this to paint Democrats as weak on national security. They will say Bush protected us and most Democrats fought against it, but a few, sensible, moderate Democrats understood what was at stake. Then they will use this perceived weakness on national security to run against the very Democrats who voted with him.

And they fell for the same old trick that Bush has used a hundred times. Hurry up and give me this authority right before you go to recess otherwise the country will blow up. There is no time, you have to give it to me now otherwise I will blame you for all the increased terrorism I have caused. Plus, if you don't give me what I want, I'll take away your summer recess. Heaven forbid!

It's time to make an important distinction again. The people who are at fault here are not all of the Democrats, or even most of the Democrats. And yes, obviously the Republicans in Congress who give away our rights without a second thought are even more guilty. But it's a given that I wouldn't vote for a Republican if you put a gun to my head at this point.

The people who are guilty are the Democrats who pretend to be centrists and vote with this administration over and over again to enable their worst abuses. They not only give away our rights without any concern, but they also give up the political middle. By pretending that compromise with this administration is reasonable, they move the center to the extreme right of the political spectrum. This not only does damage to the country, but does untold damage to their own party.

Is there anything these middle of the road, mamby, pamby Democrats won't give the president? I literally cannot conceive of any power they wouldn't cede, any principle they wouldn't compromise, any issue they wouldn't capitulate on.

How low does the president have to go before they would fight back? Does he have to get into the teens in popularity before these Democrats realize it doesn't help them politically to vote with him? Does he have to be at a 9% approval rating before they start voting against him?

What if he took away all of the rights of a US citizen? Would they fight then? If you answered, well, surely in that case they would fight back, you were wrong.

The administration already took away all of the rights of two US citizens, Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi - and the Democrats did nothing, zip, zilcho, nada. The courts ruled to protect American citizens' rights in those cases, but don't worry, there's still time for Congress to reverse them. Just wait till right before the next summer recess or next election and the Democrats will give this administration anything they want on a silver platter.

It's time to start wholesale primary fights against all of the capitulating Democrats. It's obvious all they care about is protecting their own power. They think the only challenge to that power will come from the right side of the spectrum. It's time to make them reconsider their assumptions.

UPDATE -- I just remembered that John Ashcroft fought this illegal FISA program from his hospital bed in 2004. In fact, the entire top echelon of the Justice Department and the head of the FBI all threatened to resign because of how illegal this progam was. The law they just passed appears to be broader than the one Ashcroft's Justice Department fought against.

So, these Blue Dog Democrats (the fake centrists I talk about above) won't fight nearly as hard as John Ashcroft and some of the most conservative lawyers in the country against George W. Bush. How centrists could they possibly be when they are to the right of John Ashcroft? This is really sickening. It is a callous disregard of their voters and their constitutional responsibility.

Cenk Uygur

Cenk Uygur is host of The Young Turks on Current TV as well as the host and co-founder of The Young Turks online which is the largest news show on the Internet. Uygur is the former host of MSNBC Live and has appeared numerous times on CNN, CNN Headline News, E! Entertainment Channel, Al Jazeera, ABC News, Voice of America and NPR.

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