Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hard Left Activists Pressuring Democratic Majority

Radical leftists are putting the heat on the Democratic leadership as they prepare to start their turn in the congressional majority, according to this Washington Post article:

Democratic leaders set to take control of Congress tomorrow are facing mounting pressure from liberal activists to chart a more confrontational course on Iraq and the issues of human rights and civil liberties, with some even calling for the impeachment of President Bush.

The carefully calibrated legislative blitz that Democrats have devised for the first 100 hours of power has left some activists worried the passion that swept the party to power in November is already dissipating. A cluster of protesters will greet the new congressional leaders at the Capitol tomorrow. They will not be disgruntled conservatives wary of Democratic control, but liberals demanding a ban on torture, an end to warrantless domestic spying and a restoration of curbed civil liberties.

The protest will be followed by an evening forum calling for the president's impeachment, led by the Center for Constitutional Rights, antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan and a pro-impeachment group called World Can't Wait.

Those priorities will not be in evidence inside the Capitol, where the newly sworn-in Democratic Congress will immediately begin work on new ethics rules, the reinstitution of federal deficit controls and new policies designed to increase civility in House proceedings. In the coming weeks, Democrats plan to pass bills designed to raise the minimum wage, lower prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients and interest rates for student borrowers, bolster homeland security and boost alternative energy research.

Nowhere in the Democrats' consensus-driven agenda is legislation revisiting last year's establishment of military tribunals and suspending legal rights for suspected terrorists. Nor is there a revision of the civil liberties provisions of the USA Patriot Act, a measure curbing warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency or an aggressive confrontation of the president on his Iraq war policies.

To Democratic activists and some lawmakers, the agenda skirts the larger issues that damaged the president's approval ratings and torpedoed Republican control of Congress.

"We've been told for many years, 12 years now, 'Wait until we get in power. Then you'll see things change,' " said Debra Sweet, national director of World Can't Wait, a pro-impeachment group helping to organize the protest. "We'll give them a couple of months or a few weeks to see what they come up with, but if they don't do something very decisive around the war and these other issues, I think there will be trouble."
While it is expected that long-suppressed party constituencies would speak out for their interests upon coming to power, the current hard left agenda is not just about policy change. Vindictiveness is also part of the left's agenda -- the radicals want to punish the Bush administration with impeachment for taking the country to war in Iraq in 2003. Never mind that the push to war had bipartisan support in the Congress, and that top Democrats like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry voted for the deployment. Never mind that numerous intelligence agencies in countries across the globe concurred in their threat assessments of the Iraqi WMD danger. No, the activist left sees President Bush as a war criminal and they want their pound of flesh. The Democratic majority can demonstrate true leadership by resisting demands for activist recriminations, and can thus avoid validating some of the most dire predictions on the consequences of a Democratic electoral victory.

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