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Friday Talking Points [Vol. 9]

[ Posted Friday, November 9th, 2007 – 19:24 PST ]

It's been a week of ups and downs for Democrats. Mostly downs.

While congressional Democrats still have yet to pass a single budget bill, they did find the time this week to confirm Michael Mukasey as our new Attorney General. On the positive side, they also successfully overrode a Bush veto for the first time ever.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was timidly bold for a short time. I wish "timidly bold" were indeed the oxymoron that it appears, but sadly it seems that this is the best we can expect from our Democratically-controlled Congress. Pelosi backed only giving President Bush $50 billion for his war in Iraq, instead of the $200 billion he asked for. She then tried to throw a gauntlet of sorts down, by stating that this would be the only bill Bush would see this year to fund Iraq.

Unfortunately, even though the bill she was backing had all sorts of good ideas in it, Democrats proved once again they truly are the Herding Cats Party -- hardline anti-war members didn't want to support the bill since it didn't have explicit deadlines (just "goals") for getting out of Iraq, and pro-war Democrats didn't like it because they thought it was too strongly worded.

Sigh.

With friends like these....

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

While Senators Biden and Kennedy both were pushing anti-torture bills in the Senate, and Representatives Nadler and Delahunt were doing the same thing in the House, prospects for passage any time soon are murky. So they all get an honorable mention this week, but they'll have to wait until the bills progress a bit further to earn the coveted Golden Backbone MIDOTW award.

For this week, the award goes to that brave Democratic Senator who stood up and filibustered Michael Mukasey's confirmation in the Senate. With the backing of 39 other stalwart Senators, this maneuver has scuttled for now the confirmation vote. The White House and the Republicans in general howled over this tactic, ignoring the fact that they've been doing the same thing on virtually every bill this year. One lone Democrat in the Senate deserves the MIDOTW award this week for successfully killing Mukasey's nomination.

Oh, wait.

That didn't happen.

Until I get a clear answer why this didn't happen, this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week goes to no one. It's a shame, since any one of the Senate's Democrats could have so easily won it, by standing up for what they believe in.

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

Unfortunately, there were quite a few nominees for MDDOTW this week. All on the same issue -- Mukasey's nomination.

All four Democratic presidential candidates didn't even vote. But this wasn't entirely their fault, since Harry Reid inexplicably called the vote for 11:00 at night on Thursday, when Biden, Clinton, Dodd, and Obama were already heading back to the campaign trail. Since they all said they'd vote against Mukasey, though, their absence didn't change the outcome.

However, six Democrats and Joe Lieberman did vote in favor of Mukasey. Senator Lieberman, along with Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, and Tom Carper all get dis-honorable mention this week for casting their vote for the nation's top law enforcement officer who apparently is unclear what "torture" means. For shame!

But the award itself is a tie this week, shared equally by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer. Because it was their votes on the Judiciary Committee last Friday which moved the Mukasey nomination to the floor of the Senate. Neither one is up for election any time soon, so they apparently felt safe to side with President Bush. For this craven display Feinstein and Schumer are both awarded the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

[Contact Feinstein on her Senate contact page, and Schumer on his page to let them know what you think of their actions.]

And now, our weekly list of talking points for Democrats appearing on television talk shows this weekend.

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 9 (11/9/07)

 

1
Veto override

"This week was historic in that Congress strongly voted to override President Bush's veto of a water projects bill. For the first time Congress stood up to the White House and got something done for the good of the country over President Bush's obstructionism."

 

2
Bush vetoed levees

"You would think President Bush, after his disastrous handling of Hurricane Katrina, would be in favor of strengthening our country's flood-control infrastructure. The law we passed over his veto will improve flood protection for the Mississippi delta as well as other places across the country like the Sacramento delta in California. President Bush needs to learn how to plan ahead to avert disasters instead of just wondering what to do after them."

 

3
Since Bush and Mukasey don't know what torture is, we will define it for them

"President Bush keeps dancing around what the word "torture" means, which means absolutely nobody on the planet believes him when he says 'America does not torture.' We will pass a law to define torture so that 'America does not torture' will not be an international joke anymore, it will be a standard of human rights the rest of the world can look up to once again."

 

4
Veteran's health

"President Bush has already said he is going to veto our budget for Veteran's health. This is despicable. We are supporting the troops, and President Bush is not. He needs to sign the budget so that American soldiers and sailors have the best health care possible. We do not need any more Walter Reed nightmares, we need to honor our promise to our fighting men and women to take care of them after their service to this country."

 

5
We keep trying to end the Iraq war

OK, this one would be a lot easier to present if Democrats actually were doing everything in their power to end the war in Iraq, but they need to at least be seen as trying to move in that direction. I know, that's weak, but it is what it is.

"Democrats in Congress want to end the war in Iraq. We have discussed many ways of doing so, and we have tried to work with Republicans who are also interested in doing so. But every single one of our ideas just gets rejected out of hand by the White House. Until Bush leaves office, we will try over and over again to end this fiasco."

 

6
Veto veto veto

"President Bush is the perfect image of the Republican party today. They have no new ideas, they are not interested in getting things done, all they care about now is obstructionism for political reasons. The White House is not interested in working with Democrats on a number of issues -- giving veterans health care, fixing the alternative minimum tax, passing budget bills, fixing our nation's levees -- Bush's answer to it all is veto, veto, veto. He needs to get out of the way, so we can get some things done for the American people.

 

7
Well, at least he's not Gonzales

There's almost nothing good to say about our new Attorney General.

"Well, at least he isn't as bad as Alberto Gonzales" is about as good as it gets on this subject.

Sigh.

 

[Program note: I will be on vacation for the next two Fridays, so this column will be on hiatus until 11/30/07.]

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

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