Thursday, February 14, 2008

Throwin' out a little love

By Carol Gee

On today, Valentine's Day, we ought to be thinking about finding common ground with our adversaries. But such a goal has many pitfalls. Today's post explores a few current news stories for what they can teach us about the politics of when to compromise and when to dig in and fight to the finish.

If the Iraqis can do it by Shia and Sunni finally beginning to find ways to stop killing and reconcile, you would think that we in the U.S. could find some way to join in finding a few positive common efforts. (Barack Obama is touching that very chord with his millions of voters). Juan Cole begins his current post with this amazing news about...

...the passage by the Iraqi parliament of three important laws. These included the annual budget, a general amnesty that will free thousands of mostly Sunni Arab prisoners in the teeming Iraqi security prisons, and finally a "law on the provinces." The action came in the wake of threats by powerful politicians to dissolve parliament if it could not do a simple thing like pass a budget.

If Democrats can do it, we will win in November. This business of finding common ground in the best interest of the party is an on-going challenge for everybody concerned. Our two candidates avoid disastrous splits through leadership and character. The party's Super delegates must also follow that same path or John McCain, who is compromising his principles in favor of allowing torture, will be the next president. It seems complicated but it is really simple. Everybody needs to follow the rules, both written and unwritten, to which all Democrats have long agreed. "Everybody" includes the 796 insiders discussed in last Sunday's Washington Post article. To quote:

So far, 213 superdelegates have publicly committed to backing Clinton and 139 have pledged their support to Obama, according to a survey by the Associated Press.

The potential for superdelegates to play a critical role has some party leaders worried that the situation could lend the appearance that the nominee will be selected by insiders rather than by rank-and-file voters.

That appearance is not helped by the fact that so many superdelegates have clear allegiances.

. . . The calculation of whom to endorse can be complicated: Superdelegates must think not only about their personal views but also about how their votes will be viewed by constituents, said [Harold] Ickes, who has chased their support on behalf of candidates since 1988.

Our current president (OCP) was throwin' out a little himself yesterday, though it had nothing to do with love. On the contrary, he was throwing out pure hyperbole, threat, intimidation and fear in order to be able to continue to spy on his fellow Americans. There is no room for compromise in the face of these lies and fear-mongering. Eric Lichtblau, at The New York Times, thinks the FISA law may lapse. There seems to be a good chance that brave leaders in the House will let that happen:

At a morning appearance in the Oval Office, President Bush pressed the House to adopt quickly a plan that the Senate approved on Tuesday to broaden the government’s spying powers and give legal immunity to telephone companies.

. . . Mr. Bush maintained on Wednesday that letting the broadened surveillance powers lapse “would jeopardize the security of our citizens.”

. . . Mr. Bush accused the Democratic-led House of needlessly prolonging the debate at the expense of the country’s safety.

“At this moment,” he said, “somewhere in the world terrorists are planning new attacks on our country. Their goal is to bring destruction to our shores that will make Sept. 11 pale by comparison.”

To stop an attack, he urged, Congress must act immediately to strengthen the eavesdropping.

In quicksand, throwin' out a little love won't make things better. John McCain's "partisanship" take on the FISA legislative battle is a perfect example of how the Senate Republicans hooked Democrats with the "finding common ground" argument that sunk them. A Democratic episode of dumb resulted in a terrible bill. NYT's Lichtblau concluded his story with this:

Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential hopeful, weighed in on the debate. When Mr. McCain learned that the House had voted down a 21-day extension and that the powers were likely to lapse at midnight Friday, he said: “That’s too bad. That’s very unfortunate. It’s symptomatic of the gridlock of partisanship here in the Congress.”

To break the gridlock, Mr. McCain said, “people that are patriotic Americans need to sit down together and work this out.”

“It’s clearly an absolute necessity to protect this nation,” he said. “Unfortunately, we can’t seem to do that.”

You gotta love 'em for trying. Presidential campaigning is some of the toughest work in the world. It is a fascinating subject for all of us who watch and write about it at political blogs. I don't envy the grueling quests of Senators McCain, Clinton and Obama. There is quicksand everywhere for each of the three. What I love about it is that I live in America, where I am free to vote, to gripe, to extol and to criticize; the flawed Senate FISA bill is not yet the law of the land.

Happy Valentine's Day to you and to those you love!

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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