Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Democrats Begin to Sell Out

DOUG IRELAND, DIRELAND - On Fox News, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi told Chris Wallace she had proposed to the White House a bipartisan negotiation on Social Security in which "everything would be on the table"--and that includes, of course, a means test, a rise in the retirement age, and steps to privatize old age pensions. If the Dems can't stand up unambiguously in defense of Social Security--one of the most mobilizing issues the party has--and offers to negotiate it away bit by bit, it's not only a sell-out, its rather stupid electoral politics.

On "Meet the Press," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid reaffirmed, under questioning from Tim Russert, that he thinks it's imperative for the Democrats to "go to the middle"--exactly the same counsel Reid proffered after the Gingrich-led "Republican revolution" of '94. And Reid was quick to disavow the "war room" label the press had affixed to his new communications center for Senate Dems, pooh-poohing the notion that he wanted to "go to war" with the Republicans, and affirming that this new operation was designed only to do PR for Senators when they make speeches on the Senate floor. Reid, an abortion foe, also refused to defend the Supremes' decision in "Roe v. Wade," praised the "brilliance" of Antonin Scalia as a potential Chief Justice, and failed to offer any sort of pro-active Democratic agenda.

As if that weren't enough, this week a so-called "progressive" Democratic governor, Michigan's Jennifer Granholm, rushed to throw gay couples overboard in the wake of the state's passage of a broad anti-gay marriage amendment. Granholm unilaterally pulled the plug on Michigan's recently-won domestic partner benefits--without benefit of any legal opinion saying this was made necessary by the amendment. As Detroit News columnist Laura Berman noted today, "Nobody seems to know what that fancy new constitutional amendment the state's voters approved last month actually means," adding that "nobody at the AG's office has researched the issue. But that's because not a single legislator or state official has asked [Attorney General] Mike Cox for a legal opinion on what the amendment means." Berman went on to say that "What's clear, though, is that civil rights language that's standard across the country is now being scrutinized in state government as if it was weird. Now in doubt are benefits - including tuition discounts, medical and life insurance - that have been in place for Wayne State University employees, for example, for a decade...By icing her new same-sex benefits package -- at least for now -- Granholm is opening the freezer door and letting a frosty new era begin."

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