Thursday, November 13, 2008

Beltway Mentality and Taking a Stand

More Greenwald.

Joe Lieberman didn't merely campaign against Barack Obama and several other Democrats. That's the least of his sins. He was not only among the most vocal supporters of the Iraq War, but at least as bad, has endorsed and supported every last radical Bush policy to expand executive power and surveillance activities while destroying core constitutional liberties and checks and balances. He used his Chairmanship for only one purpose: to block oversight into Bush scandals and corruption. He has spouted the most defamatory attacks, not only against Barack Obama, but against war opponents generally. More significantly still, Democrats in his own state -- his own constituents -- booted him out of the party, no longer wanting to be represented by him.

That is who Senate Democrats appear well on their way to selecting to serve as their Chairman of Homeland Security, of all committees. That's because nothing that Lieberman has done really bothers them. Endorsing the Iraq War and the full panoply of radical Bush policies isn't disqualifying in the least because so many of them also endorsed that and support it, or, at the very least, it's not a priority for them. They care even less what their "base" thinks, what the so-called "Left" wants. Few things in this world are less likely than them ever taking even a mild stand -- such as stripping Lieberman of his Chair -- in order to defend some sort of political principle, or to punish ineptitude, or to announce that there are certain lines to the Right that can't be crossed. They don't do that. They never have. And it shouldn't surprise anyone that they won't now.

I think what is important about what Greenwald writes here goes beyond the specifics of what his argument, and addresses a larger problem the country faces.

Representatives react to constituencies and public pressure, but too often public pressure comes to a stop after an election. Many people voted for Obama several days ago to bring about a change that meant different things to different people. And while I object to those who are judging Obama's intentions before he even steps into office, it's worth remembering that there is indeed a "beltway think" that is more intent on preserving itself and it's members than in better policy and governance. It's going to take an effort very similar in scope to what activists did to get Obama elected to also make a real change in how the entrenched govern, and how far they will take the message of change.

The simplest way to put it: too many Democrats oppose Bush's policies only in stump speeches and campaign ads. Overall, the past eight years don't keep them awake at night.

We've got an opportunity to change that, but assuming it will all come from the Obama White House would be naive.

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