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Senate Democrats Stage Political Disappearing Act

Sham Behind Closed Doors

by JOSHUA FRANK

Oh, what a farce it was. On Tuesday November 1, the Senate Democrats pulled a rare maneuver, kicked the press and the public out of their hallowed chambers, slammed the doors, and for 3 1/2 long hours purportedly took the Republicans to task. The Democrats demanded that the Republicans give them what was promised: an investigation into the Bush administration’s misuse of intelligence leading up to the invasion of Iraq.

It sounds noble enough and predictably their act, which was led by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, has been praised by a flurry of antiwar pundits and bloggers who claim the Democratic Party must finally be warming up to their side of the war question.

But just because something sounds noble, doesn’t mean it is.

Writing for The Nation online, John Nichols gushed,

"Remarkable as it may sound, there is reason to believe that Congressional Democrats may finally be waking from their long slumber and stirring into a functional opposition party … [Reid] merits the high praise of being referred to not as a Democrat or a Republican but as the leader of the opposition that this country has so sorely needed."

Opposition to what? Calling for an investigation into how the Bush administration manipulated the public (forget that the Democratic leadership throughout the1990s up until, well, November 1, were propagating the same lies about Saddam’s threat) isn’t called "leadership," let alone the makings of "functional opposition party," as Nichols believes. It was all just a silly ruse. The Democrats certainly know how the Republicans misrepresented and inflated intelligence about Saddam’s WMD.

But there is a much bigger charade going on here that most have missed: despite their newly found tenacity, the Democrats still have not taken a sound position on the war in Iraq.

The grassroots of the Party — if their trendy blog DailyKos is an accurate sample — have missed the boat on this fact entirely. As a popular DK blogger by the name of Hunter, exclaimed jovially, "In a move worthy of a Wild West gunfight, Minority Leader Harry Reid changed the political landscape on a dime, and cleaved the Republican talking point brigades into shards and splinters. This move was political brilliance on more fronts than I can count."

What a crock. Even though the Democrats have allegedly changed their tune on pre-war intelligence, it doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot, even if Hunter et al say so. And if an investigation is ever honestly waged (not likely) you can forget about it meaning anything more than just another blow to Bush’s already plunging popularity. But Bush’s poll figures, up or down, good or bad, isn’t going to bring the troops home. Nope, even if the Dems somehow expose the bipartisan lies that led to the Iraq invasion, the current occupation will still rage on. And even if the Dems take back the House and Senate in 2006, thanks in part to their latest political stunt, there won’t be an exit strategy in place. The Democrats are so pitifully predictable that they’ll simply say that since our troops are there now, we can’t just "cut and run." How is this any different than the Democrat’s weak position before their Senate close out?

It’s not.

What Senator Harry Reid and the other Senate Dems pulled wasn’t an act of gallant proportions as so many liberals and antiwarriors contend. It was just a political trick intended to persuade their base and the antiwar movement into believing they actually are an "oppositional party."

So don’t go getting your hopes up. The Democrats have a long way to go before anyone can consider them an opposition to the Republican agenda. For that to happen they’d have to call for an end to this illegal war. And that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

JOSHUA FRANK is the author of the brand new book, Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, which has just been published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted rate at www.brickburner.org. Joshua can be reached at Joshua@brickburner.org.