Dear Congressional Democrats,
Let's do the math together.
Bill Foster just won the special election in IL-14 -- former GOP Speaker of the House Denny Hastert's seat, and birthplace of Ronald Reagan. Running as he did in what was until Saturday, a deeply red and thoroughly Republican district, what's Foster's view on the new FISA bill and telecom immunity?
"The President and his allies in Congress are playing politics with national security, and that's wrong. Nobody is above the law and telecom companies who engaged in illegal surveillance should be held accountable, not given retroactive immunity. I flatly oppose giving these companies an out for cooperating with Alberto Gonzalez on short-circuiting the FISA courts and the rule of law."
And what was the tack taken by Jim Oberweis, whom Foster defeated in this solidly Republican district?
"So today I ask my opponent -- if you had been a Member of Congress this week, and you had sat in that Democratic Caucus meeting on Wednesday, how would you have voted to instruct your leaders? Would you have sided with the trial lawyers, or with America's intelligence community? Would you have voted to protect trial lawyers' wallets, or to protect America? Would you have defended the extreme, or the mainstream?"
That's as direct a contest between the competing lines on the issue as you could imagine. And the fearmongering and trial lawyer baiting lost, on its home turf, to the rule of law.
Who'll hear the message from IL-14?
Will the Democratic leadership allow the Bush Dogs to make a fool of Foster in his first weeks on the job, and facing reelection so soon?
Or will they read the tea leaves and hold firm, maybe even sending a message back to Illinois that Foster's true to his word?
Why not make a show of it? Send the Senate back immunity-free FISA legislation and let it be called the "Foster bill."
What a shame it would be to waste a win like this by letting the Bush Dogs' worry -- that is, that no marginal seat can be won or defended with the very position with which Foster just did it -- hold the rest of the Caucus, and the country, hostage to their fear.