Dems' Big Middle Finger to the American Voter

UPDATE: Since posting this diary early this morning, Democrats have come forward with a plan on Iraq that appears - for the first time - to be binding. This is a solid (though certainly not perfect) step, indeed. Let me add two things: First, in the last week, we've seen how these proposals can get floated and then undercut. Second, when such plans do get undercut, they often get undercut by the same anti-democratic factions outlined in this diary - factions that we as progressives will have to continue to work to pressure if this plan, or any other, is going to pass. Oh, and one final note: To those automatons who are so blinded by partisan rage that they can't see the need to pressure Democrats, I say that this new announcement by Democrats is a vindication for all of us who have tried - like studious movement participants - to hold both parties' feet to the fire.

One of my idiosyncratic little hobbies of late is to keep a tally on statements by Washington politicians and pundits that are express an open hatred for democracy. This hobby is a subset of a bigger collection of quotes I collect that show how Washington politicians are entirely divorced from the political reality they purport to be experts on - a classic example is Sen. Chuck Schumer's hilariously moronic declaration that strengthening the Patriot Act is politically good for red state Democrats (thanks for your helping make the Montana Senate race that much harder, Chuck!). I'm not exactly sure why I focus on this, other than because it is important to always remind ourselves just how different - and hateful - the Beltway is towards the country it purports to represent. Today, we get a beauty from South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D).

In the Washington Post's solid writeup of the debate over Iraq in the House, a faction of Democrats continues to attack the very Election 2006 mandate they were vaulted into office on: opposition to the war. Justifying her opposition to bills that would stop President Bush's military escalation, we get this from South Dakota's lone House member:

"I don't think we should be overreacting to public opinion polls."

I give Herseth credit - her use of "overreacting" deviously implies that there are just a few very recent polls here and there showing negligible opposition to the war, and that Serious People in Congress should never "overreact" to the supposed fleeting whims of the American people. But, of course, the American public has been strongly critical of the Iraq War for almost 4 years now.

Go all the way back to August of 2003 - just a few months after the invasion - and polls started consistently showing that Americans felt the Bush administration misled us into war, and that Congress should put the brakes on war spending bills. By the eve of the 2006 election, opposition to the Iraq War was at an all-time high. And just a few weeks ago, a CNN poll found that a strong majority wants Congress to cut off funding for President Bush's escalation, while the Washington Post poll found that a majority of Americans want a timeline for withdrawal, want Congress to do what it takes to stop Bush's escalation, and strongly support a plan to force the White House to adhere to strict troop training standards - all positions Herseth and her small faction of "conservative" colleagues oppose in the name of faux "centrism" and "not overreacting."

Herseth, of course, is following the tried and true path of fellow politicians and pundits insulated comfortably in the Washington bubble. It was Cheney who said in November that the war "may not be popular with the public - it doesn't matter." It was David Brooks who said a few months ago that "voters shouldn't be allowed to define the choices in American politics." There was the Bush administration in August of 2006 telling the New York Times "that they are considering alternatives other than democracy" in Iraq - after repackaging the war as an exercise in pro-democracy nation building. The Times itself just recently said that Democrats pushing antiwar legislation strongly supported by the public are "fringe." And let's not forget The New Republic's Peter Beinart who trumpeted groups that - in an oxymoronic backflip - believe "the less beholden politicians are to grassroots activists, the better they will represent voters."

The message from Washington, D.C. to all of us out here in the heartland is very clear: Our government is the exclusive gated community of Big Money interests, their appointed pawns in Congress, and a select group of self-declared "experts" in the media and at think tanks (which are, of course, funded by many of those same Big Money interests). Inside this gated community,  actually listening to or shaping policy on behalf of the vast majority of Americans is considered either laughably outdated or disgustingly unsavory.

This is why we have a House lawmaker running to reporters attacking efforts to end the war as "overreacting" to public opinion. This is why we have a Vice President who goes on national television declaring that what the public wants "doesn't matter." This is why the largest newspaper in America continues to publish a columnist who says voters shouldn't decide elections. This is why, months after being elected to the majority on an antiwar mandate, we have a congressional Democratic Party that still refuses to do anything to end - or even slow down - the war. Because underneath all the platitudes and rhetoric, Washington, D.C. is a place that hates democracy.

Tags: Chuck Schumer, David Brooks, Iraq, New York Times, Peter Beinart, poll, public opinion, South Dakota, Stephanie Herseth (all tags)



David Sirota Bores America

Damn.  How many times can he write the same dribble.

Maybe David Sirota should run for office and show us how easy it is to stop a war.

But he won't.  Because it is so much easier just to be the big blowhole in the room.

Dems have done things, oh dense one. And as of yet, they haven't got enough votes.

See David, this is not Hitler's Germany, where they all Seig Heil and do Herr Sirota's bidding.

And BTW, David.  I worked for two candidates, neither supported leaving right away.  And they both won.  So you are wrong again.

See all Senators are not elected by a poll of the NY Times.  Really, bet you never thought of that.

They are elected by their state, or districts for Congress.  So your national poll is as useless as your sleep inducing rant.

We elected Dems, who are all different.  Mine have actually proposed bills to withdraw troops.  So your entire premise is bullshit.

So David, run for Congess and you show us how it's done, k.

by rapallos 2007-03-08 10:49AM | 0 recs
Re: David Sirota Bores America

Sirota was addressing the party collectively. When we let leaders like the current ones set such an impotent agenda against Iraq war, then yes, everyone is collectively responsible. He did not mean that most leaders of the party are ineffective. It is clear only a minority of the leadership has wrongheaded thinking on iraq, but the majority of the party is letting them get away with it. This is where our voices factor in.

And let me turn your views back at you. Just like you are sick of Sirota's opinions being repeated all the time, why aren't you sick of our leaders repeating the same mistakes over and over?

by Pravin 2007-03-09 03:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Dems' Big Middle Finger to the American Voter

This is Sirota's Big Middle Finger to Democrats.

Democrats, like all human beings, deserve to be treated fairly.  Criticism should be based on facts and reason applied not just against the object of criticism but the critique itself.

This pseudo-omniscient crap about the deviousness of Herseth's comment (see the diary) somehow translating into a big collective F-You is a Coulterism.  The only thing distinguishing this approach from the very people we oppose is that Sirota began as a progressive and has become more like "them" in his methods.

by chicago jeff 2007-03-08 11:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Dems' Big Middle Finger to the American Voter

Mice to see some replies to Dem-bashing on a liberal web site that isn't "you're right, yuo're right, you're right."

by spirowasright 2007-03-08 05:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Dems' Big Middle Finger to the American Voter

I tend to think the Demcorats have kind-of been softies the past month or two on a number of the issues they ran on.

It is good to see the '08 pullout thing making its way in the House.

But when the public speaks on an issue, that is not the time to "manage expectations" or whatever other bit of sloganeering is applied to not doing what the voters wanted.

Iraq was a mistake.  Everyone knows it.  Now get us out.

by Hoofin 2007-03-08 08:00PM | 0 recs


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