Had microphone, lacked anything to say

We haven’t heard much about the House Democrats recently. All the action has been in the Senate, where the bombastic Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd, Harry Reid, etc. hold sway. Then, too, the House Democrats are largely irrelevant because they are badly outnumbered, and Tom DeLay does such a good job of translating the Republican majority into victories. For a while, House Democrats garnered attention by challenging DeLay’s ethics in connection with his travel. But that subsided because Democrats now must use that energy to try to cover their own tracks on travel.
It’s too bad we don’t see more of the House Dems because, though perhaps less pompous than their Senate counterparts, they are more juvenile, and even more out of step with America. Many of them represent safe districts that are so liberal they don’t ever have to worry about winning moderate votes, or paying even lip-service to the concerns of most Americans, such as terrorism. Their leader, San Fransisco Democrat Nancy Pelosi, is a great example of this.
Yesterday, the House Dems gave us a taste of the infantile leftism we’ve been missing lately. The House Judiciary Committee has been holding hearings on the Patriot Act, which is set to expire at the end of the year. The Democratic minority invoked a rarely used right and invited its own panel of witnesses to testify. That would have been fine if the intent had been to obtain testimony about the Patriot Act. But the Dems tried to use the panel to bash administration anti-terrorism policy generally, and in particular to attack U.S. policy on detaining suspected terrorists outside the U.S., a subject that has nothing to do with the Patriot Act. That Act, controversial in its own right, does not deal with the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The Washington Times’ account of the proceedings is here. And this is how the Washington Post covered the hearing.
One of the panel members was Amnesty International USA chairman Chip Pitts. He reiterated his organization’s view that Guantanamo Bay is “the gulag of our time.” This is an assertion so outrageous that many liberals have denounced it. And it’s an assertion that AI’s Bill Schulz proved incapable of defending when questioned by Chris Wallace, ultimately admitting that he knew little about what happens at Gitmo and that the AI statement was essentially a publicity stunt. But the House Democrats saw fit to bring Pitts in so he could repeat the slander in hearings on a subject unrelated to detention policy. Pitt fared no better than Schulz, defending his comparison to a system that left 20 million dead Soviet civilians by referring to one death under questionable circumstances at Gitmo.
At the end of the hearing, the Democrats tried to hold an impromptu press conference (in the Times’ account) or to prolong the hearing (according to the Post). James Sensenbrenner cut off the committee microphones. This was unfortunate, since the Dems undoubtedly would have further revealed how their hatred of President Bush trumps any interest they might otherwise have had in combatting terrorism.
It’s one thing not to have a plan to fix social security. But the Democrats don’t have a plan for fighting terrorism. They clearly want Arabs to think better of us. But what are they prepared to do in pursuit of that goal? Do they want us to sell out Israel, as their panelist James Zogby would like? Do they want us to release all detainees? If not, where will put them when we close Gitmo, and why will this be better? If so, will we owe the released terrorists an apology? And do the Dems have any interest in actually obtaining information from high-ranking terrorists we capture? If so, how do they propose that we go about getting it? What tactics, if any, should we be permitted to use? Can we ask nicely? Or are we limited to the usual Democratic solution to tough problems — magic?
The Democrats have nothing to say about any of this. Ultimately, then, it doesn’t really matter whether their microphones are on or off.


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