Editor: Douglas Drenkow

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DEMOCRACY: Government & Politics | October 4, 2005




By Douglas Drenkow, Editor of "Progressive Thinking"

As Posted in "GordonTalk""Comments From Left Field", & "OpEdNews"

I am proud to be a fourth-generation Democrat. A modern Democrat. A progressive Democrat.

I believe that the Democratic Party stands for something -- a lot of things -- that the Republican Party just does not. For equal opportunity and civil rights. For environmental protection and international law. For all that is best about and best for America.

But sometimes I have to wonder, to say the very least, about certain members of the leadership of our party.

Having lost control of the Presidency and both Houses of Congress as well as a reliable majority on the Supreme Court, the Democratic Party had but one lever of federal power left to exercise -- the filibuster in the Senate -- which a "gang" of "centrists" chose to trade away, in the name of "comity".

But it takes two to make comity; it takes only one to give the farm away.

At least we can still go over the heads of the political structure, by appealing directly to the public, with a united front speaking with one, powerful voice against all we hold objectionable and for all we hold dear.

Unfortunately, it seems, certain of our leaders hold nothing so dear as their power, which ironically but unsurprisingly, is slowly slipping out of their grasp, compromised by their compromising, in truth giving more than they get.

The failure of fatalism.

Just consider the current nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers to be the next justice of the Supreme Court, replacing the retiring, swing-voting Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Who advised the President to nominate this candidate with no judicial experience or judicial paper trail? This candidate who has been in favor of helping victims of AIDS but opposed to repealing the laws against sodomy? This candidate who has worked as a lawyer pro bono for the poor but stepped down from the Dallas city council in disgust over power-sharing agreements with minorities (or not)? This candidate who has been a major corporate lawyer and a fierce advocate for "tort reform", to protect corporations from lawsuits, as by consumers who have been harmed? This candidate who has been implicated in a cover-up of young George W.'s allegedly going AWOL from the National Guard? This candidate who led the fight within the American Bar Association to withdraw its support for the supposedly settled question of a woman's right to an abortion; who was a "bronze patron" of an anti-abortion group affiliated with Rep. Henry Hyde; and who has been a longtime member of an evangelical church, her pastor attesting to her "conservative", "biblical" views on such issues as marriage and abortion -- abortion in particular an issue that Bush claims to have never discussed with his close friend, legal advisor, and political confidante Miers (in their many long years together)? This candidate who the President has told the nation is one of the "strict constructionists" he would necessarily nominate to the bench and who has a truly "conservative judicial philosophy", according to the Vice President, assuring some of his conservative supporters (as in the dark and as skittish as activists on the Left)?

Who advised the President to nominate this stealthiest of candidates, whose greatest "qualification" appears to be her unflagging loyalty to George W. Bush, whom she -- in her judgment allegedly appropriate for the highest court in the land -- terms "the most brilliant man I have ever met"?!

It was none other than the Minority Leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, of Nevada, who told Bush at a breakfast with other senators present that Harriet Miers would make a good nominee!

No wonder Senator Reid praised the new nominee so lavishly -- she's as much his pick as Bush's.

This is the same Senator Reid who is opposed to a woman's right to choose, opposed to gun control, and opposed to gay marriage.

The same Senator Reid who took money from credit card companies and voted for the bankruptcy bill, who voted for restricting class-action lawsuits, who voted for both Gulf Wars [Los Angeles Times, 11/7/2004], and who said he would vote for Antonin Scalia for Chief Justice!

The same Senator Reid who often opposes environmental groups on mining issues in the West and whose family has made millions from lobbying or legal work on behalf of nearly every major industry in his home state [Los Angeles Times, 11/7/2004].

When Reid became leader of our party in the Senate -- behind closed doors, without public debate, immediately after Senator Daschle's defeat -- nearly a year ago today, I wrote party activists nationwide about my serious reservations, warning of what might happen when push came to shove.

Well, fellow Democrats, Reid did fight the good fight when it came to defending Social Security and certain other, mostly popular causes; and as a human being, I am sorry that he had a mild stroke just this summer. But when Bush came to shove, we got knocked to the ground yet again!

The "No Nuclear" agreement, blessed by Harry Reid, put the filibuster -- our last real lever of federal power -- effectively out of our grasp, except under the most "extraordinary" of circumstances. I defy anyone to show me anything even remotely resembling that phrase in the "advice and consent" clause of the U.S. Constitution.

And nominated by Bush following the suggestion by Reid, Ms. Miers will by most accounts be confirmed as a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court unless rank-and-file Democrats stand up and shout "No!" -- no, to putting this "unknown quantity", a constitutionally inexperienced political crony of Bush at best (think Michael Brown on the Supreme Court), an ideologue of the economic and religious Right at worst, into a lifetime position of almost unsurpassed power.

As much as it pains me to say so -- as dangerous as divisiveness at this critical juncture may be (perhaps less so than saying nothing before irreparable harm is actually done) -- certain members of our leadership are apparently more part of the problem than part of the solution, more appeasers of the Right than champions of Left.

But at least they kept our powder dry.

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