From 2000 to 2006, Democrats enjoyed unprecedented party unity. Their combined outrage over the Florida recount, Ralph Nader’s spoiler role and the Iraq war, along with their omnibus Bush hatred, forced left-wing activists to rally around the Democratic banner. They believed that they constituted a broad “movement,” that they embodied the authentic voice of the people, that they would “take back” America and, once in power, transform it. If only Democrats ran things, there’d be no war, our allies would love us, global warming would be brought to heel, and we would have universal health care, happily married gay neighbors and embryonic stem cells for everybody.
Now the climate has changed. Twice since the Democrats took over Congress with a much-trumpeted “mandate” to end the war, they’ve ended up voting to fund it, and it looks like it will happen again. The Bush and Maliki administrations have announced a long-term partnership that will permit military bases in Iraq for years, if not generations, to come. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s antiwar point man, Rep. Jack Murtha, accidentally admitted last week that the surge was working. And we’ve now learned that Pelosi and other leading Democrats have known about CIA waterboarding since 2002 and were apparently fine with it then.
If I were a Nader-ite, I would be mad enough to drive my Prius over the family cat.
Meanwhile, on the domestic front, the myth that the Democrats’ 2006 victory represented some sort of tidal wave of good-government reform is laying on the ground in a battered heap of implausibility. Senate Democrats recently abandoned the canard of “paygo” — a budgeting gimmick that requires paying for tax cuts or spending increases with spending cuts or tax increases elsewhere. Pork-barrel spending — the GOP’s Achilles’ heel in ’06 — is now the Democrats’ problem.
Three stories from Monday of this week tell the tale. The headline of a front-page Washington Post article on House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: “Hoyer Is Proof of Earmarks’ Endurance.” And there’s the Los Angeles Times’ front-pager on Hillary: “Clinton rolls a sizable pork barrel.” And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it best himself in Monday’s Roll Call: “Have we stopped the war in Iraq? No. Have we gotten health care? No. Have we improved education? No. But we have been able to do what we’ve done. We’ve done a lot of things.”
If I were a netrooter, I’d be so frustrated that I might post a really, really angry comment on a blog in ALL CAPS.