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September 29, 2006

As Predicted: Presidential Hopefuls Vote Against Detainee Bill; Democrats In Tough Reelection Fights Back It

Caution: NYT link.

The NYT spins this as Democrats asserting themselves against a weakened Bush. Apparently the fact that Democrats facing close reelection campaigns supported the bill doesn't indicate anything.

The Democratic vote in the Senate on Thursday against legislation governing the treatment of terrorism suspects showed that party leaders believe that President Bush’s power to wield national security as a political issue is seriously diminished.

The most vivid example of the Democratic assessment came from the party’s many presidential hopefuls in the Senate. All of them voted against the bill, apparently calculating that Mr. Bush’s handling of Iraq has undercut the traditional Republican strength on national security and will insulate them from what are certain to be strong attacks from Republicans not only this year but also in 2008.

Democratic opponents of the legislation said their political position was driven by a substantive determination that the bill, which creates rules for interrogating and trying terrorism suspects, is fundamentally flawed and a dangerous departure from founding American principles.

“The only reason to worry about the politics of it is if you don’t understand it and don’t have the guts to stand up and defend your vote,” said Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, who is considering a presidential race.

Over all, 32 Democrats voted against the measure while 12, including some of those in the most difficult re-election fights, backed it. Among the latter was Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, whose perceived support for Mr. Bush has brought him political trouble at home.

It was a stark change from four years ago, when Mr. Bush cornered Democrats into another defining pre-election vote on security issues — that one to give the president the authority to launch an attack against Iraq. At the time, many Democrats felt they had little choice politically but to side with Mr. Bush, and a majority of Senate Democrats backed him.

So what is the Democratic position on detainee treatment? Once again, no one knows. There is no position; there is only political positioning. If you want tough treatment of terrorists to save lives, Democrats are in favor of that. If you want kid-gloves treatment in order to preserve our moral superiority, well, Democrats are in favor of that, too.

They're in favor of whatever's required to get your vote, and also in favor of whatever would cause you to vote against them, but they prefer to emphasize the positive.



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posted by Ace at 03:05 PM

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