Stop and Reassess
  by  Miksat

I have made a daily visit to your page for several months now, and I consider myself a loyal Bartcop reader.  Prior to
the Jeffords defection and the subsequent shift of power in the Senate, I shared your outrage and disgust at the
Democrats' passivity in the face of Shrub's right-wing assault of nominees and legislation; why didn't they stand up
to it?  Why didn't they resist?  Your reaction to Jeffords leaving the Repugs was something along the lines of:
Great.  Now we can lose votes 53-47 instead of 54-46.  But I think you have underestimated the impact of the
Senate returning to Democratic control, and their consequent control of that body's agenda.  Now the Dems can
force Bush to either veto legislation which flies in the face of Weak & Stupid's repulsive agenda (for which, we all
agree, he has no mandate), thereby further alienating him from the attitudes and values of the American people.

This will aid (oh please, let it be so) in the continued deterioration of Shrub's approval/disapproval numbers.  By the
end of 2002, we may be looking at the Dems regaining control of the House, as well as a majority of the governors'
mansions and firming up Dem control of the Senate.  Then, two years later, we pound that silver-spooned blue
blood into oblivion (electorally speaking) and put a Democrat back in the Oval Office.
Daschle, who I railed at during the nomination of that despicable religio-nut Ashcroft, seems to have a reasonable
strategy for achieving this.  His rhetoric isn't overheated, he works quietly and effectively behind the scenes
drumming up support for Democratic proposals, encouraging moderates on both sides of the aisle to embrace
progressive legislation that is anathema to the Repugs, who are servants of self-serving corporations and
self-righteous social conservatives.  This means that not only do we score points politically; we also have
meaningful progress that makes a difference in people's lives.  It gives the Dems a real record of accomplishment
to run on and an argument for being given the reins of government.
I can sense you balling up your fists now and preparing for a scathing rebuttal of this argument, but hold your
horses <insert your own Paul Harvey reference here>.  I absolutely and wholeheartedly understand your outrage
and the unbelievable crap Shrub and his smug and extreme administration have pulled: the jaw-dropping
appointments and nominations of far right politicos, the policies and priorities which ignore the wishes of the
American people and the monstrously dubious circumstances of his "election."  It fills me with anger, too.  My fists
are clenched, too.  I am further offended by a man whose life has been filled with "sweetheart deals and soft
landings" (as one columnist put it recently--I think I was steered to this particular column by Buzzflash, but have
been unable to remember who wrote it and for what publication--wish I could provide a link), who has never had to
work too terribly hard for anything, who walks about with a sense of entitlement so unbelievably grandiose that it
leaves your average human being in goggle-eyed incomprehension.  I loathe the man's much-vaunted "charm."

Why the hell are people charmed by a stranger giving them a nickname?  Isn't a nickname an indication of shared
experience, of personal closeness and affection?  Who does this shlub think he is doling out nicknames to people
he doesn't even know?  What unmitigated presumption.  This seems more a characteristic of a smiling huckster who
is all promises and superficiality.  I resent the man's legendary incuriosity. his intellectual laziness.  It is such a
travesty that after eight years with a president and vice president who were actually interested in policy, who
understood its nuances and gritty details, we have a lazy dweeb who would rather let others worry about the
direction of the nation while he plays another round of video golf.  This man disgusts me in a way that no other
living politician has.  Not only do I disagree absolutely with nearly every aspect of his policies; I find his very
biography a slap in the face to every American who has "worked hard and played by the rules" (for an excellent
exposition on the Shrub's life o' the silver platter, check out Michael Kinsley's latest column at the Washington
There, we're on the same page, right?  The thing is, it would be emotionally satisfying to hear the Dem leadership
call Bush a feeb and a thief, to hear them state unabashedly that they will oppose every right-wing nutjob he sends
their way, will oppose every policy and position and shout from the mountaintops that his election is a fraud and
his occupation the result of a shameless judicial coup by an unethical (and possibly criminal) Supreme Court.  It
would be emotionally satisfying, but it would alienate those voters in the middle who are crucial for Democrats to
get elected and progressive legislation to be enacted.  It would be far too easy for the Repugs to paint the Dems
as knee-jerk obstructionists and Bush as the poor, undeserving victim of rabid partisans.  Yes, yes, I know it's
bullshit.  Partisanship is about having a philosophy and fighting for it.  Is it partisan to oppose a tax cut that
disproportionately aids the wealthy, raises the spectre of the return of deficits and threatens Social Security,
Medicare and money for education, environmental protection, etc. etc. etc.?
Of course not.

It reflects a commitment to principles of fairness and the responsibilities of government.  As the Repugs have thoroughly demonstrated over the past nine years, IT DOESN'T MATTER IF IT IS TRUE OR NOT.  Most people aren't going to appreciate this.  Most people are only listening with one ear and too easily succumb to the shorthand rhetoric.
The hard-right propaganda machine of the 80s and 90s have successfully demonized the term "liberal."

It's an epithet now, not a philosophy.  Big Government. Family Values.  Bureaucrats.  All of these words and many
others form the ideological lexicon of a movement that has shifted the center of debate in this country for years to come.
This is an unfortunate reality to which we must respond. The Democratic leadership is aware of this and have taken on
the strategy (as far as I can see) of prinicipled engagement seeking long-term gains rather than short-term moral
satisfaction.  They're in it for the long haul.  It's up to us, the grassroots, to rage at the Repugs, to, in the words of
Frederick Douglas: Agitate!  Agitate!  Agitate!  This is why I appreciate the work that you, Buzzflash, and others are doing.  Keep the troops motivated!  We can't forget!
We can't allow ourselves to grow complacent.
I fully accept the very real possibility that I am completely full of shit about this.  You may be right, and the majority
of Dems are wearing pink tutus.  But at this point I'm willing to cross my fingers and hope that Daschle knows what
he's doing.  I will continue to share my outrage at the Bush Agenda and that mendacious peawit who is illegally
ensconced in the Oval Office.  I will encourage friends and family and coworkers to vote for progressive Democrats
willing to stand up to the right wing juggernaut.  I will continue to read Bartcop and support journalists who are
willing to stray from White House "talking points," the chorus of "conventional wisdom" that sounds remarkably
like the braying of sheep.  At this point I feel I should defer to the party leadership, which seems to have effectively
regained control of the agenda in the Senate and actually given a little backbone to moderates in the House.  I'm
trying to fight my own natural tendency towards cynicism and pray that Daschle proves to be an effective national
spokesman for our party and is successful in returning us to sane representative government.  Koresh help us all if
he isn't.
Keep up the good work.  We still need some sincere and impassioned venom.

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