I have noticed a fair amount of criticism from the Lefty blogs and many kossacks of the Democratic leadership's approach to the political and legislative battles we have faced so far this year.
Pick your issue - Rice, Gonzales, the Class Action Bill, the Bankruptcy Bill, Bolton, Schiavo and now the Frist Jihad, and there are many smart Dems who think the Dem leadership has mishandled, even bungled, these issues.
I disagree. I think we must keep in mind two essential points when evaluating the decisions made by our Dem leadership:
First, we are in the minority. We do not have any control over the agenda. For that reason, Dems are necessarily in a reactive mode. Dems must react to the initiatives of the majority GOP on legislative matters. There simply is no other way. I hear much talk of how Dems must lay out a positive agenda. My reaction is - not yet. Why? Because the election is next year. No agenda proposed by the Democrats has any chance of even being debated (other than "compromises" with the GOP, see Nelson, Ben, Lieberman, Joe), much less voted on. It will be less than meaningless - because you give the GOP a chance to react to what you will propose.
Second, the Democratic Party has for some time lost the image battles with the GOP. Dems fight a negative image in most respects while the GOP has escaped the negative consequences of their extreme Right Wing agenda and constituencies.
But opportunity knocks. With the Schiavo travesty, the DeLay scandals and now with Frist's Nuclear Jihad, the unmasking of the the extreme Right Wing fringe-controlled Republican Party is a real possibility.
I'm a broken record with this, but I will repeat it again here. Lincoln 1860 is the strategy for us. And the tactical situation is primed for its use:
But you say you are conservative - eminently conservative - while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the point in controversy which was adopted by "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live;" while you with one accord reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. . . . Not one of all your various plans can show a precedent or an advocate in the century within which our Government originated. Consider, then, whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and your charge or destructiveness against us, are based on the most clear and stable foundations. ... Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.
Here is the tool for helping us explain this to the American people:
Who are the extremists? The Frist Jihadists.
What should we do?
A few words now to [Democrats]. ... The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning ... but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.
These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call [their actions] wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly - done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated - we must place ourselves avowedly with them. ... I am quite aware they do not state their case precisely in this way. ... But we do let them alone - have never disturbed them - so that, after all, it is what we say, which dissatisfies them. They will continue to accuse us of doing, until we cease saying.
. . . Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.
In other words, now is the time to for Democrats to stand up.