"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt
There has been one consistently missing piece of this puzzle, a piece whose absence would be unutterably galling had that absence not become so drearily predictable. With all that is assaulting the White House, the Republican majority in Congress, and indeed the entire substructure of conservative political philosophy, the absence of a vocal, united, organized Democratic opposition to crystallize the reality of our wretched estate and offer a compelling alternative is, simply, astonishing.
Call it cowardice. Call it cynical. Call it a conspiracy. Call it a custard pie, for all the good it will do. Adjectives and invective wither before the yawning abyss that stands between the words of Democratic officeholders, and the deeds they have thus far failed so completely to accomplish. One hears that they are "keeping their powder dry." All this protracted, disorganized silence leads one to assume they have the driest powder this side of the Sahara. If it does not get used soon, it will blow away like so much dust.
The leadership caste of the Democratic party - those worthies and also-rans in the Senate and the DNC - should take a walk down to the Rayburn House office building and find Representatives Conyers, Lee, Woolsey, Abercrombie, Sanders, McDermott, Waters and Waxman. This crew has been keeping good company, has been burning the midnight oil, and has been speaking the truth of this administration all day and every day. The leadership caste of the Democratic party would do well to drink deep a draught of the courage and integrity that can be found there.
There has been a fair amount of talk recently about the number of scandals surrounding the Bush administration and the Republican party, inspiring allusions to the historic Congressional reversal in 1994. Back then, it was Democratic scandals and seeming scandals that swept the Republicans into power. More than that, it was the organized, motivated and energetic actions of the GOP, which exploited the gaps and ran to daylight at every opportunity. They've been essentially running things now for eleven years, and are learning a few lessons on the dangers of hubris and the nature of the American justice system.
Yet the outcome of this will not be another historic Congressional reversal in 2006, or in 2008 for that matter, if the Democratic party continues as it has been. Give the people a choice between the devil they know and the fathomless, mindless, tidal wanderings of the deep blue sea, and they will choose the devil every single time. Memo to the Democratic leadership, in the words of departed comic Bill Hicks: "Step on the gas, man."