as the Democrats were engaging in political civil war, Nixon won the election. He lied about
a secret plan to end the Vietnam war, secretly bombed Cambodia, opened the door to China,
started the Environmental Protection Agency, covered up criminal activity, proposed a national
health care plan, and started nuclear disarmament talks with the then Soviet Union. I reacted
by voting against Nixon and for McGovern. Later, I voted against Jimmy Carter and watched
Ronald Reagan push his agenda through a Democratically controlled Congress.
In 1982, I was working in Congress when Reagan rolled up the Speaker of the House,
Tip O'Neill, like an old carpet and got everything he wanted. O'Neill was replaced by a
succession of not-ready-for-prime-time players including Jim Wright (sunk by a scandal
involving a book he wrote), Tom Foley (defeated in his home district), and Richard Gephardt
(who undercut the Dems by making a secret deal about supporting the use of force in Iraq).
The same held for the Senate, where the Democrats were led for awhile by George Mitchell
(who proved to be fairly ineffective) and then by Tom Daschle (who also couldn't get re-elected)
and now by Harry Reid who faces an uphill battle just to retain his seat and can't even control
There's a pattern here. While Republicans had Reagan, Bush 41 and 43, Gingrich, DeLay,
and Lott, the Democrats were led by such a weak and flawed cast of characters that they
resembled the Mets trying to compete with the Yankees. After a disastrous eight years of
Bush, two wars, lies, and financial disasters, and with the weak leadership from Harry Reid,
the Democrats are left with no leaders to rally around. Why?
The election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts has Democrats scurrying out of harms way.
You would think Brown's election gave the Republicans 58 votes in the Senate, rather than
the 41 they have. Democrats act as if they lost their majorities and then some. President
Obama is still making nosies about bi-partisanship, while Republicans vow to continue their
practice of non-cooperation. Republicans vow to oppose the new jobs bill. They plan to fight
any new regulations or oversight of their friends on Wall Street. Right now they are sending
out fundraising letters to top Wall Street firms promising to protect them from the Dems.
They have sided with the health insurance industry to derail healthcare reform and will fight
Obama's plan to cut taxes for small businesses, increase exports, and reduce corporate taxes
(issues they supported in previous Congresses).
Brown's election appears to be the equivalent of a grenade being thrown into the middle
of the Democratic caucus. The Democrats seem to be scared of their own shadows. News
reports claim Obama is so spooked that he isn't even going to nominate a progressive to fill
the Supreme Court vacancy at the end of the current term, when Justice John Paul Stevens
is expected to retire. Everybody expects the bills on climate change and Wall Street re-
regulation to run into trouble.
And how about student loans? The New York Times reports Obama's proposal to end
the practice of private banks lending money to students who want to go to college is in trouble.
On the surface it sounds like a good thing, that banks are willing to make loans to college kids;
but there is no logical reason for private companies to be in the student loan business unless
you are a banker. It's a scam and has always been a scam against the taxpayer. Unbelievably,
the government guarantees to protect the profits these loans generate, so there is no risk and
the companies make hundreds of millions in profit. All losses are subsidized by you and me,
the taxpayers! How sweet can a deal get? Obama would have the government lending directly
to students. The hundreds of millions in profits the banks receive could be used for more
loans enabling more families to be able to send their children to college. This makes sense.
However, intense lobbying by the private companies appears to have stalled the bill as
Democrats continue to weaken at the knees when faced with opposition of any kind.
The one Democrat to buck this trend of spineless, ineffective, easily intimidated, and
skittish leadership is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She pushed Obama's entire legislative
agenda through the House; only to sit and watch it all die due to a case of White House and
Senate vapors. Even she couldn't stand all the heat from Republicans. She was steamrolled
by Bush 43 as Democrats in the House voted to continue to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan
wars, give immunity to telecom companies who illegally spied on their own customers at
the government's request, and passed a bank bailout for Wall Street without provisions to
assure accountability for where the money went or how it was spent while leaving Main Street
to fend for itself. I'm not Pelosi's biggest fan; but the Democrat's performance is getting
Democrats have huge majorities in both houses of Congress. According to the pundits,
Scott Brown's victory was a statement from Independents that they don't like gridlock in
Washington. Yet, in sending Brown to Washington, the Independents have guaranteed more
gridlock. Brown's victory showed how unpopular Obama is and how dispirited his supporters
are especially when they see him courting regressives while ignoring progressives. Yet,
Obama's personal popularity is still high as the people blame Republican obstructionism.
It's time to play for keeps. In the House, pass a jobs bill which will employ hundreds of
thousands of Americans now! WPA-style projects to rebuild roads and bridges and clean up
cities and national parks. Jobs to replace an aging power grid and jobs to rebuild schools in
low-income neighborhoods. Employ carpenters and plumbers, laborers and engineers; and
give Americans between the ages of 21-35 first crack at the jobs because they have the highest
unemployment figures. Pass a real regulatory bill to control Wall Street. Lower taxes for
small businesses and fund community banks who can lend to small businesses in their
community. Let the Republicans vote against all of that and dare Democrats to do so as well.
In the Senate, it is time to actually force someone to really filibuster...no more can a Senator
just threaten to filibuster. They actually have to take control of the Senate floor and hold it.
If they can't, the filibuster ends. Propose a jobs bill, Wall Street reform, more money for
student loans, money for small businesses and healthcare reform; and make the Republicans
filibuster every one of them. Republicans will have to sleep in the Capitol and the American
people can see that their real agenda is to oppose Obama and not to lead the nation out of
perilous economic times. It's time to call their bluff. Stand up for something. We've had
eight years of Clinton and now one year of Obama and Democrats still run like scared children
at the first sound of danger or disquiet. So Scott Brown won. Shove it down the Republicans
throats. Make them oppose real solutions and let's stand up for what is right and needed.
I have no idea how the party of Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Stennis, Russell,
Rayburn, Albright, Pell, Humphrey, and Teddy Kennedy is today run by Obama, Reid, Hoyer,
Stupak, Lincoln, Nelson, and Landrieu. Something has got to change. Someone has to stand
up and fight for progress. I don't have any nominees who leap to mind. Do you? What do you
think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org