Monday, March 13, 2006


Feingold's censure resolution. As Atrios says, if you don't know how, just Google their names. Call today. Now. Urge them to support it. Now.

The text of the resolution is here. It is reasonable, truthful, and necessary. I just called my senators (Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez); it would be wonderful if everyone reading this blog would do the same. Plug in your nine-digit zip code at Project Vote Smart, and the names and phone numbers of your senators will pop up. If you don't know your nine-digit zip code, there's a link for that too.

After you've called your senators and told them you want their yes vote for censuring Pres. Bush, come back and read Anonymous Liberal (cross-posted at Glenn's blog) on the Democratic leadership's terror of appearing "unreasonable" or "extreme" while the Republican leadership skillfully manipulates the discussion to make "reasonable" fit whatever they want it to. Glenn's update at the end of A.L.'s post gives a very good example in Carl Levin's response to a question about the censure resolution put to him on CNN's Late Edition:

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, urged caution among lawmakers until the program had been reviewed further.

"I think what the president did was wrong," Mr. Levin said. "But even though I think he was wrong, I would rather wait until the investigation is completed, which has now been started by the Intelligence Committee, before I go beyond that."

Glenn comments:

In fairness to Levin, it seems that Feingold told nobody about his Censure Resolution until he announced it with George Stephanopolous, and so Levin wasn't prepared to address it yesterday when he was asked about it. Still, Levin's response, which was both frightened and incoherent, illustrates a serious instinct problem which so many Democrats have (and, just incidentally, someone really ought to tell Sen. Levin that waiting "until the investigation [of the Senate Intelligence Committee] is completed" before deciding what to do is going to be a very long wait, since that Committee voted last week not to investigate).

Rather than use the opportunity he had to aggressively condemn the Bush Administration's law-breaking, Sen. Levin did the opposite: he mentioned just in passing -- in the most cursory, reluctant and obligatory manner possible -- that "what the president did was wrong," but then he devoted the bulk of his answer to fearfully warning that we shouldn't do anything about it, that we should wait, that we should think more about it, that we should just impotently and quietly stand by and remain cautious, stagnant, non-committal and unsure.

How is it even possible for a Democratic Senator to conclude that the President broke the law but then -- three full months after the law-breaking is revealed -- counsel that nothing should be done about it? That is the mentality we need to fight against in order to generate as much support as possible for Sen. Feingold's resolution.

In a guest post at Crooks and Liars, Glenn connects the Democrats' fear of appearing "too liberal" to their apparent scorn for liberal and left-wing bloggers:

With very few exceptions, national Democrats in Washington see the blogosphere as composed of uninformed, ranting, dirty masses who need to be kept as far away as possible. While they are willing to take your money, many of the Beltway Democrats see the vibrant activism in the blogosphere as some sort of an embarrassment, while others see it as a threat to their feifdoms. ...

Of course, leave it to the Democrats to be so scared of being labeled "extreme" or "unpatriotic" or "out of the mainstream" or "on the far left fringes of liberalism" that they turn down the best hope they have of getting back the White House and majority status in Congress.
The way in which so many national Democrats run away from the blogosphere and try to pretend that it does not exist -- as though it is some sort of dangerous, poisonous sewer -- is really quite bewildering. Within the last two weeks, I had some extensive communications with a high-ranking staff member in a Democratic Senators' office (whose identity I promised not to reveal before the discussions began) in which I argued that systems should be created to enable Democratic Senators to work cooperatively with the blogosphere in order to prevent the Bush Administration from continuing to suppress investigations into its wrongdoing, including as part of the NSA scandal and other scandals.

I explained that there is a bursting and eager energy among the literally millions of people who write and read blogs to take meaningful action against the Bush Administration. The people in the blogosphere are highly motivated, informed, and politically engaged. Activating that energy and having national Democrats work cooperatively with the blogosphere (rather than ignore it or scorn it) could make an enormous difference in how these stories end up being covered and resolved. It is monumentally dumb not to embrace the one mechanism which has the ability to unleash genuinely impassioned, mass citizen action. And there are obvious and easy -- yet quite potent -- ways for national Democrats to work with bloggers and the blogosphere to maximize the force of these efforts.

This was the response I ultimately received:

I think there is an opportunity for us to figure out a better way to work together. But, you have to understand, my ultimate goal is to help [the] Senator [] achieve his objective of real oversight on national security matters by the Intelligence Committee.

Even with the best of intentions, I'm not convinced that bloggers can help us meet that goal. In fact, I worry about it hurting our efforts given the increasingly partisan environment.

This response is not uncommon. Many -- if not most -- national Democrats really are afraid of working with actual citizens, and are particularly afraid of having any involvement at all with the blogosphere. It's as though they think they need to remain above and separated from the poorly behaved, embarrassing masses. They actually have been scared away from working with the very people who they are supposedly representing and who are on their side.

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