Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Yes, The Dems Blinked - But They Haven't Caved - Yet
Sen. Mitch McConnell wears a shit-eating grin after he got the better of Senate Dems again in the shutdown "compromise" yesterday. The Resistance movement is not amused.
The stinging rebuke of Senate Democrats heard from Rebecca Traister on All In last night - along with Linda Sarsour, a major organizer of the Women's March - still rings in my ears. Both said bluntly that while they provided more than ample cover for the Dems to stand strong - via the massive marches over the weekend- they felt betrayed by the "cave in" to the Republicans over the gov't shutdown. But it isn't just the organized women's protest movement. Across most of the Left spectrum, from Indivisible to Credo Action, to ActBlue, progressives are still fuming over what they see as a betrayal.
Readers can decide for themselves. But let's take a deep breath and look more objectively at what's gone down. Yes, the Dems did indeed blink in this standoff. By 'blink" I mean something analogous to a false start in football. Their "offense" appeared set to make the play of their lives but moved too soon against the Reepos before all the pieces - including strategy, narratives, responses - were in place. The giveaway was how they blanched - most of them - in the face of the no holds barred blowback from the GOP rat brigade. That included the Twitter Troll in his deranged tweets, to Mick Mulvaney slamming Schumer for "lying" in his meeting with Trump, to, Bitch McConnell's fake outrage .
The savage attacks included a TV ad released on Saturday, viciously slandering the Dems as enablers of murderous immigrants. Never mind the ad was total unadulterated bullshit, it played to the xenophobic paranoia and fears of a certain mentally deformed segment of the populace. The Democrats, unable to think of an ad comeback or vigorous response, withered and blinked.
A clear gauge of the false start was the failure to use videos of Mitch McConnell -on the floor of the Senate Friday night- making an objection to funding for military families after Sen. Claire McCaskill introduced the vote, see e.g.
A deft use of this travesty in ads ought to have been enough to have slowed down the Puke onslaught and bought more time for the D Senators to stand strong. But they didn't do it.
But this is still not a "cave in". A potential cave in (despite the Twitter Troll's tweets) will be in 17 days when the shutdown looms again, given the only thing agreed to was two week plus reprieve. . Then, with barely a month before the Dreamers stand to be deported, the Dems will once more have a chance to show they really have spines of steel.. But if they cede the landscape to the Repukes - unwilling to use the only leverage available - then yes, we can say they "caved". And they will be pilloried nonstop by the Left base even more than they are now.
Now let's back up and briefly recount history up to now. Three days after Democrats rejected a stop-gap bill because it did not include protections for Dreamers, they yielded, ending the first government shutdown in a half decade. In a 81-18 vote on Monday, Democrats approved a three-week spending measure in exchange for a commitment from Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, who pledged to bring up legislation that would extend protections to Dreamers, whose status was thrown into chaos when Trump cancelled DACA in September. The House passed the bill later on Monday, in a vote largely along party lines, but the House made absolutely no promise to vote on the Dreamers. So basically the Dems got a "half loaf" if that, or maybe the promise of a half loaf.
Is McConnell really to be trusted to keep his word, or are the Dems about to be played again? As Chris Hayes put it on ALL In, "His words about having the intention to take up DACA leave lots of wiggle room". You bet. In the words of Sen. Kamala Harris who opposed the CR:
"I don’t believe he made any commitment whatsoever. And I think it would be foolhardy to believe that he made a commitment.”
Sen. Harris is correct, because McConnell along with Tom Cotton, is among the hard core anti-immigration enclave who want a clean immigration deal about as much as they want an Avian flu epidemic. All Mitch the Bitch has done is: a) Manipulated the Dems into showing their hand, that they have no real stomach or backbone for a prolonged shutdown, and b) Pushed resolution back another 17 days before he can again dare the Dems to find their balls and act - with barely a month before massive deportations begin.
Personally, if I was a Dreamer, I'd be packing my bags right now. I wouldn't put one bit of faith or credence into anything the marshmallow- livered Democrats do or promise. Indeed, one Dem Senator (Peters) appearing on ALL In last night made no bones about the fact he believed that a shutdown was the worst thing and "nobody wins". Then why initiate that action in the first place? If you knew all along you'd get weak knees then why do it? Did you not grasp there'd be harsh blowback from the Reptiles?
Well, the Dems - mainly the centrists - have plenty of excuses.....errr answers. Most weren't prepared for the incredibly aggressive attacks from the Trumpies and the Right including the insane ad I noted earlier. Then as we moved into the 3rd day and the likelihood of extensive government furloughs the Dems got more and more terrified of getting bad PR. Many also believed the Repukes were winning the message battle and blame game and it might cost them votes in the fall. (In fact, polls showed 39 % blaming the Dems for the shutdown, 38% blaming Donnie Dotard, and only 19 % blaming the GOP. Incredible - but as Bill Maher has observed, we have a politically semi-literate populace. Well, at least those who respond to polls!)
But never mind the questionable polls, the real danger for the Dems is on their left flank and not being aggressive enough. "Gosh! We really got no power, none at all! We re just a minority!" Well, if you keep thinking like that you always will be! Also, if you decline to use the one thing (shutdown) that does confer power, come hell or high water, you've no one to blame but yourselves.
Dick Durbin - who tried last week to get a bipartisan deal done (with Lindsey Graham) tried to put this lipstick on the CR "pig":
“Parts of this were a victory in terms of moving to immigration for the first time in five years, with a deadline, with an understood procedure with the other side acknowledging this is about Daca."
This flapdoodle, however, didn’t satisfy many in the party’s activist base, who accused the blinking Dem lawmakers of betrayal. As noted by Linda Sarsour and Rebecca Traister on All In last night the contrast was particularly glaring in the aftermath of the Women’s March, which saw tens of thousands of activists in cities across the country protest Trump and congressional Republicans. Many of the women carried signs in support of the Dream Act, legislative fix for the young immigrants.
Others carried signs with Trump shown in a toilet bowl, face ready for "dump" ville:
Reacting to the Dems' deplorable pussyfooting, Leah Greenberg, the co-executive director of Indivisible, said:
"Millions of people flooded the streets of every major American city to stand up to Trump this weekend, Your constituents want you to fight. How can you possibly not understand that?”
A sentiment echoed by Mss. Sarsour and Traister. The problem, of course, is that the Dems have never possessed the necessary political DNA to fight, far less have an instinct to go for the jugular of opponents. Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a national immigration advocacy group. put it this way:
“Last week, I was moved to tears of joy when Democrats stood up and fought for progressive values and for Dreamer. Today, I am moved to tears of disappointment and anger that Democrats blinked.”
I myself confess to misjudging the level of testosterone in the Dems, betting for sure the Repukes would blink first. I was wrong. Recall as long ago as August, 2002, Michael Tomasky observed in his article 'Dems Fightin' Words' ( The American Prospect) that by the mid-70s the Dems lost the ability to parry, thrust, fight and RESPOND! The Dems basically agreed to eschew political point-making and "hard nosed", no-holds barred political partisanship. They replaced it with wonkish, vanilla policy points, which appealed to "reason" and "temperance" but did little or nothing for core partisans, the very people Dems need to get out to the polls each mid-term election. As Tomasky concluded:
"Apart from judicial battles, the Democrats don't have much fight in them."
Well, seems like they still don't. They still get too easily terrified of the "optics" and instead of using their brains to craft powerful counter narratives they wimp out and piss their pants. They overthink the optics and lose the will to fight., terrified of falling poll numbers. They fail to appreciate the real poll numbers they need to obsess over are from their Left base.
If I'd been a Jew in Nazi Germany they'd be the last ones I'd want watching my back. They'd probably turn me over to the Gestapo the first time they were pressed hard by the same.
Charles Chamberlain, the executive director of the progressive organization, Democracy for America, said Democrats “stunning display of moral and political cowardice” jeopardizes the party’s chances of reclaiming the House majority in 2018."
This may well be true as it has the potential to dilute the once potent Left base turnout. After all, if our party is mainly full of pussies and Milquetoasts what's the point? They will still get shit- hammered by the Reptile minority.
Again, this is not surprising when we study Democratic history after the Kennedy assassination. (And to put it bluntly, many of us believe the Dems lost their will and nerve in the wake of the 1960s political assassinations, e.g. of JFK, MLK, RFK and Malcolm X. These killings, most likely conspiracies all, rubbed out the entire left flank of the party). So now, as the authors of Banana Republicans put it, Democrats are more likely to see politics as a debate society contest while Republicans regard it as warfare.
Progressives and immigrant advocates are rightly doubtful the House will take up the measure to offer legal status to undocumented immigrants. House speaker Paul Ryan has not agreed to bring an immigration bill up for a vote and if he did the Freedom Caucus would be on his case.. Further, Republicans aren’t sure what Trump wants on immigration. They DO know what proto Nazi aide Steven Miller wants and he seems to be the master of Dotard - telling him what to do - along with the now useless Gen. John Kelly.
But never fear, folks and kiddies. There is still going to be a chance - maybe a slight one - for Dems to show they are made of sterner stuff. This will be once the February 8th deadline is reached. They now have the time to more firmly and intelligently plan a full strategy for a shutdown, including the necessary messaging when the furloughs of government workers begin. If, on the other hand, they do nothing and simply collapse and punt with the deportation of hundreds of thousands at hand, then yeah they caved.
One bad omen: Republicans have insisted they should only consider legislation with the White House’s seal of approval. According to top Dotard enabler Chuck Grassley:
“We should not spend our time on passing a bill that the president wouldn’t sign,”
Of course, this is stunning balderdash. As former GOP congressman Mickey Edwards noted last night on ALL In, there isn't a damned thing stopping Grassley or McConnell from bringing a bill to the floor, voting on it then letting Trump sign it or not. If not, the heat is on Dotard, as he welcomed ten days ago. The failure to even vote on a bill shows the GOP are also marching to the tune of Trump - and his Junior Nazi whisperer, Stephen Miller.
From the looks of it nothing will get done. Here's a little help for the Dems come February 8th: Think of what McConnell and his REEPs would do if they were in YOUR minority position. Now, with that in mind, DO what they would! Easy peasy!