Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Scenes From a Democratic Congress

The House might actually stand-up to president Bush.

The early signs from the House leadership have been that they will strongly oppose the Senate version. The chairmen of the two relevant committees, House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI) and House intel committee Chair Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), both say they oppose the Senate bill. Conyers has said outright that he opposes such immunity, while Reyes says he needs more time to review the documents from the program "to make a determination." The House leadership has been making similar noises.

But it will indeed be a battle. The administration has put the pressure on any way it can. It's threatened to veto any bill that does not grant retroactive immunity to the telecoms. It is refusing to agree to any further extension of the Protect America Act -- which, after last month's 15-day extension is set to lapse this Friday -- and is revving up for another round of excoriating Democrats for attempting to extend that deadline while simultaneously warning what a calamity it will be if the bill does lapse.

We will see how this plays out. The Democrats have over and over been afraid to challenge the president. If anything is politically damaging, I'd say it was that. This alienates both the general public and people otherwise sympathetic to the party (myself, for example).

Seriously, how unpopular does this president have to be before we cans start scoring points off of him? More confrontation would help change the narrative from "the Dems can't do anything" to "the Dems can't do anything because of Republican obstructionism."

An unremarked on feature of all this is that the Republicans have been loyal to Bush throughout. Though it may come as a surprise to some who are my own age, there is no law of the universe that a president's party must fight for him to the death. Once, there were matters of principle that transcended party loyalty. Alas, no longer.

No comments: