The "San Francisco Democrats" are the handmaidens for President George W. Bush: feckless, short-sighted and cynical. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., both wealthy San Franciscans, are leading voices in the congressional chorus that chooses convenience over principle and perceived political advantage over certain political truth.
Pelosi wants no talk of impeachment for Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other war criminals. She has done nothing to block funding for the war in Iraq, the only way to end the occupation, save Iraqi and American lives and let the Iraqi people determine their own destiny.
Feinstein made sure we now have as our nation's chief law enforcement officer a man who refuses to condemn drowning torture and believes the president has unlimited authority and need not respect the laws of the land.
The late Jeane Kirkpatrick -- once a faux Democrat and belligerent bully who went on to be Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations -- first coined the "San Francisco Democrat" appellation in 1984. That year the Democrats held their convention in San Francisco and nominated former vice president Walter Mondale for president. Kirkpatrick gave the keynote address at the GOP convention in Dallas. The scorching heat outside rivaled the oppressive rhetoric inside the Reunion Arena, a miserable event I had to endure.
That was the year the Republican Party re-coronated Ronald Reagan and plunged deeper into the abyss of intolerance. Rev. Jerry Falwell rode a bull at a barbecue as the party faithful bowed to him and Christian fundamentalism became the Republican state religion.
Young George W. Bush was there for his daddy's renomination for vice president, spending most of his time in Dallas bars sucking up Jack Daniels and acting like a first-class flippant jerk. Billy Graham and Jesus may have helped wean Dubya from the hooch, but otherwise little in him has changed.
Kirkpatrick, the godmother of the neoconservative movement, blasted the San Francisco Democrats for being weak in opposing the Soviet Union and claimed "they always blame America first."
The combative Kirkpatrick was also slurring San Francisco's large gay population, to the delight of Falwell and the frothy-mouthed haters then seizing the Republican Party.
Kirkpatrick went on to support selling arms to Iran and using the proceeds to illegally fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. She embraced the right-wing dictatorship in El Salvador that slaughtered tens of thousands, including Archbishop Oscar Romero.
Kirkpatrick argued it was in America's interests to support "authoritarian" dictatorships in Argentina, Chile and South Africa. She saw the U.S. invasion of Grenada as a great triumph.
In the Middle East, Kirkpatrick endorsed anything the Israelis wanted to do and advocated the disastrous deployment of U.S. Marines to Lebanon. Her crowning glory was providing weapons and support for a band of insurgents in Afghanistan, especially a rich young man named Osama bin Laden and the band of brothers he called al-Qaeda.
That's one hell of a foreign policy resume, but as we'll see, Jujitsu Jeane finally saw the light and learned -- unlike her neocon progeny -- that America the omnipotent can fail and foster violence.
As wrong as Kirkpatrick was, she was forthright and bold -- traits not found in our new San Francisco Democrats. Pelosi and Feinstein see themselves as finesse politicians, tip-toeing through the crunch issues, thinking they are so clever as Bush tramples on their flowerbed of phoniness nourished by the manure of Democratic consultants.
From the time she took over as House speaker, Pelosi has insisted impeachment would not be on the table. Even as evidence of wholesale criminality and assaults on the Constitution grew, Pelosi wouldn't hear any talk about doing what is required to hold the crooks accountable.
But Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, a presidential hopeful, had the guts to buck the Democratic leadership and pressed to get his bill to impeach Cheney to the floor. Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny "The Hack" Hoyer, D-Md., were furious.
Kucinich forced a vote of the full House, as Pelosi and Hoyer thought they could have the resolution quickly tabled and buried. But their gutless move failed when Republicans, intent on embarrassing the shameless Democratic leadership, joined Kucinich and his supporters in opposing the tabling motion.
Caught flat-footed, the hapless Pelosi then got enough support to send the impeachment resolution to the House Judiciary Committee. She hopes her ridiculous "impeachment is off the table" stance will prevail, but numbskull Nancy may get another surprise, and committee chair Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., may yet hold hearings on Cheney's serial crimes and impeachable offenses.
Pelosi demonstrably is out of stride with the American people, and especially Democrats, in protecting the Busheviks from the heat of the impeachments they richly deserve. The latest USA Today/Gallup survey shows Bush's approval rating is 31 percent, with 50 percent saying they "strongly disapprove" of the president, an all-time high.
Bush has finally unseated Richard Nixon as the most unpopular president in the history of the poll. Even though Bush's crimes are far more serious and have done more harm than Nixon's, Pelosi insists on sparing him from the constitutionally prescribed remedy.
Politics be damned! More importantly, it is a matter of justice and principle. Bush and Cheney deserve the stain of impeachment as a message to their successors that such egregious behavior and disregard for the Constitution, treaties and statutes will not be tolerated. To do otherwise -- as Pelosi wants -- sends the opposite message.
Over in the Senate, the other San Francisco Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, feigned noble purpose as she wallowed in depravity, helping to grease the skids for Michael Mukasey to win confirmation as attorney general.
Feinstein joined with her pal on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the loathsome grandstander Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as the only two Democrats on the panel to recommend Mukasey to the full Senate, thus assuring his confirmation.
Schumer helped orchestrate Mukasey's nomination, and even when this "distinguished jurist" refused to condemn water-boarding as the torture it clearly is, Schumer was going to stick with him because he made his deal with the devil -- Bush.
Feinstein then proceeded to give some cover for Schumer so he wouldn't have to stand alone. During the Senate debate last Thursday night, Feinstein made one of the most nauseating, illogical and unprincipled speeches I have ever heard.
"Judge Mukasey is not Alberto Gonzales," Feinstein assured us. Oh, I get it. Mukasey is not a smiling, lying son of a bitch, and so we should embrace him because he is not the most corrupt attorney general we have ever had.
And if you don't buy that crap, try this from Feinstein's book of low expectations: We could do worse.
"I believe Judge Mukasey is the best nominee we are going to get from this administration," Feinstein argued, "and that voting him down would only perpetuate acting and recess appointments, allowing the White House to avoid the transparency that confirmation hearings provide and to diminish effective oversight by Congress."
Mukasey refuses to condemn water-boarding, because he knows that would leave Bush, Cheney and their henchmen wide open to civil suits and criminal prosecutions. He chose to protect the torturers and patrons, and Feinstein and Schumer made that possible.
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., a man who understands principle and decency, voted against Mukasey on the Judiciary Committee and with the full Senate. He sees Mukasey as an enabler of those who threaten the rule of law.
"Democrats can no longer be part of the savaging of the U.S. Constitution." Feingold told a crowd in Madison before the vote on the nominee. The Senate's most ardent defender of basic liberties would not compromise and demanded an attorney general who "must be able to stand up to a chief executive who thinks he is above the law."
Feingold wanted an attorney general "who will tell the president that he cannot ignore laws passed by Congress. Unfortunately, Judge Mukasey was unwilling to reject the extreme and dangerous theories of executive power that this administration has put forward."
Don't expect such admirable standards from the San Francisco Democrats. They're too busy dancing, dodging, waffling and triangulating to get bogged down with principled positions.
The party leaders are lagging far behind the people, especially on the war in Iraq. According to a CNN/Opinion Research poll, a record 68 percent of Americans now oppose the war. Already 2007 is the deadliest year for U.S. troops since the war began, with at least 852 American military personnel killed. But, stubbornly trying to avoid the slur of "not supporting the troops," the San Francisco Democrats keep funding the futile war. Even Jeane Kirkpatrick, who initially supported the war, came to her senses in her dying days.
In her last book -- "Making War to Keep Peace," published after her death -- Kirkpatrick recognized what was happening: "Unfortunately, what we face in Iraq today is a vacuum of power, a lack of stable institutions needed to govern and the problem that the promise of democracy for which our nation stands may be lost in the essential scramble for safety and stability in the streets."
Kirkpatrick slammed the Bush war-planners who "did not seem to have methodically completed the due diligence required for reasoned policy-making because they failed to address the aftermath of the invasion."
This new generation of San Francisco Democrats could learn from Kirkpatrick's crisp candor. Wake up, shrug off careful calculations and stand for something.
© 2007 Niagara Falls Reporter