By Dan Post
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 4, 2005
For the last five years, Democrats have taken a beating at the hands of their partisan opponents.
The game goes like this: A prominent Republican commits a crime and covers it up, and then he smears his accuser, changes the subject and lies to the press. Democrats, angry but scared by Republican bully tactics, crawl into hiding.
This week, things were different.
Democrats finally realized that they had to stick up for themselves in this masculinized world of politics. And their first attempt to stick it to Republicans showed promise. After seeing the positive results from this week, Democrats should learn that they can outmaneuver the dirty Republican style with a new brand of intelligent hardball politics.
It all started with President Bush's nomination of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court on Monday. The right was rallying behind their leader for his wisdom in nominating Alito. The base was reunited. The mainstream media joined in the party; immediately following the announcement, 76 percent of the guests on the three major TV News networks - CNN, MSNBC and Fox News - were conservative.
It was like pre-Iraq invasion days, when the news was handed out in speeches and press releases by partisan government officials who were masking nonexistent weapons of mass destruction as truth. Bush was back.
While conservatives gloated, Monday turned into a dark day for progressives. The prospect of Alito's extremism confirmed all of the progressives' fears of helplessness about the future of the country - it will be left to rot with businesses and evangelists, until everything is gone.
On top of that, the media's return to the Bush bandwagon furthered liberal disheartenment. They had to sit back and helplessly watch conservatives sweep all of their problems under the rug on national TV. It was like "Groundhog Day" for the Dems - despite any gains, they always wake up in the same powerless position.
In one day, last week became completely inconsequential. Plamegate? Water under the bridge. Harriet Miers never even existed. Iraq - are we still at war?
How could Republicans get their old glory back so fast? How could liberals be so weak again? This was shaping up to be a major political defeat for Democrats, a failure to keep the pressure on the conniving GOP.
In a burst of political brilliance, the democratic leadership did something astounding.
The next day, Democratic leadership came to a realization to which its constituency had long since arrived. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Libby, Bill Frist and Tom DeLay should not be allowed off the hook for all their misdeeds, just by the act of naming Alito to the Supreme Court.
In an unprecedented move pushing political tensions to the breaking point, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) forced a close session of the Senate insisting that Republicans talk about Iraq. He came out of the locked Senate doors with a victory: An investigation into Bush's misuse of intelligence leading up to the Iraq war would commence by Nov. 14.
The guts and sheer brilliance of the move surprised everyone; especially the cocky and childish Republican leadership. You could tell they were shocked by being bullied around by the minority.
In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Senate Majority Leader Frist (R-Tenn.) said, "This is an affront to me personally. It's an affront to our leadership. It's an affront to the United States of America. And it is wrong." Temper, temper, little Billy.
Frist does have good reason to be mad; his side is eventually going to pay for its transgressions, because Reid and the Democrats will no longer be bullied around by Republican criminals and thieves.
Bush's 2003 State of the Union lies, his Cabinet's false claims about prewar intelligence, his rush to war, will not go unpunished. And Bush must heed a warning that Democrats will not confirm the rightist Alito for no good reason; the filibuster is definitely in play, and if it means the "nuclear option," then so be it.
If the Democrats feel over the course of the hearings that Alito is way out of bounds for the Supreme Court, they will fight to the bitter end. It took the Democrats a long time, but this stance is absolutely necessary to regaining control over the pack of wild beasts that currently runs the country.
The key to success for Democrats will come on Nov. 14. If the investigation hasn't moved by then, Democrats should keep applying their hardline tactics and really put the pressure on Republicans to come clean.
Dan Post is a senior majoring in ecology and anthropology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.