Today from Salon.com
Sunday September 23, 2007 06:21 EST
Dianne Feinstein — Symbol of the Worthless Beltway Democrat
In the wake of the series of profound failures that define the 2007 Democratic Congress, there is much debate over what accounts for this behavior. There are almost 300 “Congressional Democrats” and they are not a monolithic group. Some of them are unrelenting defenders of their core liberal political values and some are committed to providing meaningful opposition to the radicalism and corruption of the Bush administration. But as the sorry record of the 2007 Congress conclusively proves, they are easily outnumbered in the House and Senate — especially the Senate — by Bush-enabling and Bush-supporting Democrats.
The standard excuse offered by many apologists for Bush-enabling Democrats — that they support the Bush agenda and capitulate to the right-wing noise machine due to political fear of being depicted as too liberal or “soft on terror” — is clearly inapplicable to many, if not most, of the enablers. California’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein provides a perfect case study for understanding why the Congress has done virtually nothing to oppose the most extreme Bush policies, while doing much actively to support it.
Feinstein represents a deep blue state and was just easily re-elected to her third term last year. She won’t run for re-election, if she ever does, until 2012, when she will be 80 years old. Her state easily re-elected a Senator, Barbara Boxer, with a much more liberal voting record than Feinstein’s. Political fear cannot possibly explain her loyal support for the Bush agenda on the most critical issues decided by the Senate.
Additionally, Feinstein is a 74-year-old divorced Jewish woman currently on her third husband, and it is thus extremely unlikely that she harbors any hopes of running in the future on a national ticket. She has as secure a political position as any politician in the country. Whatever explains what she does, it has nothing to do with “spinelessness” or fear. What would she possibly fear?
And yet, her votes over the last several years, and especially this year after she was safely re-elected, are infinitely closer to the Bush White House and her right-wing Senate colleagues than they are to the base of her party or to the constituents she allegedly represents. Just look at what she has done this year on the most critical and revealing votes:
* Voted in FAVOR of funding the Iraq War without conditions;Ã‚Â
* Voted in FAVOR of the Bush White House’s FISA bill to drastically expand warrantless eavesdropping powers;
* Voted in FAVOR of condemning MoveOn.org;
In 2006, Feinstein not only voted in favor of extending the Patriot Act without any of the critical safeguards sought by Sen. Feingold, among others, but she was one of the most outspoken Democratic proponents arguing for its extension (“I have never been in favor of allowing any provisions of the Patriot Act to expire.”). Also in 2006, she not only voted in favor of amending the Constitution to outlaw flag burning, but was, as she proudly described herself, “the main Democratic sponsor of this amendment.”
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