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Monday, January 10, 2005

Opening of the 109th Congress

"We're looking for candour, old buddy. I love you, but you're not very candid so far." - leading Democrat Joe Biden as he mercilessly hammers Alberto "The Electrode" Gonzales during Senate confirmation hearings. (cartoon: David Low)

From The Guardian UK:

Biden's gentle prodding will no more protect him from rightwing accusations of being unpatriotic than John Kerry's vote for the war prevented Republicans from portraying him as weak on defence. The fact that the left did not make use of the lash does not stop the right from resorting to the backlash.

Indeed, even the relatively mild inquisition Gonzales underwent was enough for Republican senator John Cornyn to brand the hearing as "unnecessarily partisan, even cruel" and claim that "only in Washington would a good man get raked over the coals only for doing his job".

The problem here is not that Gonzales will go on to be confirmed - given their slender numbers in Congress, this is not something the Democrats can do much about. It is that with each failure to promote its principles and values, the liberal left ends up on the defensive, ceding the ideological foundations it needs to build any substantial comeback. As a result the national conversation ends up taking place almost entirely on the right's terms.

Even the English think we're weenies. How pathetic.