On Monday Al Gore gave a speech on the NSA spying and other issues filled with accurate accusations about the Bush administration. On Tuesday, this was defused by the White House pointing to the "hypocrisy" of someone from the Clinton-Gore administration, which had a very poor record on civil liberties, being a spokesperson on the issue. There was actually some substance to the charge, though the Bush administration hardly has standing on the issue.
The same pattern has been apparent on Iraq. Whenever the Bush administration has been cornered, for example on its lies about non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, it has pointed to the Clinton administration and present-day Democratic leadership having made similar statements. Therefore the record and prominence of these Democrats is defacto helping the Bush administration continue its policies.
The Democrats are being led by people who voted to authorize the unconstitutional war -- such as Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton; and people who made warrentless claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction such as Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean, who have failed to even indicate repentance about their statements when given the opportunity to do so.
Republicans, when targeting a Democratic president have ditched their leadership to achieve their goal. In December 1998, as Clinton was facing the prospect of impeachment, Republican Bob Livingston was about to replace Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House. It was then revealed that Livingston had had affairs. On December 17, 1998, Livingston admitted to having affairs, but said he would not relinquish becoming House Speaker. Two days later, he resigned and the impeachment of Clinton proceeded. Notable, the Clinton administration appealed to Livingston to stay on.
There are Democrats who stood up to Bush before the war in one manner or another and have continued to so. The most obvious are Jim McDermott, who in 2002 said Bush was lying about Iraq, when it was manifestly unfashionable to do; Barbara Lee, who voted against one of the initial 9-11 presidential powers resolutions; Cynthia McKinney, who lost her seat in 2002 for her questioning of the administration and Dennis Kucinich who, among other things, held a series of hearings during the buildup to the Iraq invasion about the Bush administration's disinformation (I was a panelist at one of the hearings). I'm sure there are others.
If the Democratic Party wants to be a serious entity, the people who have been manifestly complicit with the Bush administration plans for war and unconstitutional actions -- or who claim to be so naive that they believed Bush's rhetoric -- need to step aside; and people who scrutinized Bush and have continued to do so need to become the leadership. If it wants to enable more of the Bush administration's policies, it will continue on its current track.
[originally published at husseini.org on Jan. 19, 2006]