What sort of press coverage might a person expect if they show no sign at all of possessing a backbone? If you are a Senate Democrat, the NY Times will be kind - here we go with the Times coverage of Bush's push to pass legislation to allow warrantless eavesdropping and to create new military tribunals for terrorists.
Panel in Senate Backs Bush Plan for Eavesdropping
WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 — The White House took a critical step on Wednesday in its effort to get Congressional blessing for President Bush’s domestic eavesdropping program, but it ran into increasingly fierce resistance from leading Republicans over its plan to try terror suspects being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The mixed results signaled the tough road the White House faces in trying to sell the two key planks in its national security agenda to sometimes skeptical Congressional Republicans less than two months before the midterm elections.
Democrats have allowed Republicans to fight among themselves over the issues, and appear willing to allow the issues to come to a vote rather than risk charges of political obstructionism in an election season.
So, Democrats finally appear in the third paragraph, with a bold strategy for demonstrating their readiness to lead the nation in war-time - let the Republicans sort it out. We get more after a big skip:
But negotiations between Capitol Hill and the White House [on the military tribunals] broke down as three Republican senators crucial to passage of the legislation hardened their stance against a White House plan that would reinterpret a main provision of the Geneva Conventions.
The White House political strategy in the past week has been twofold: first, putting Mr. Bush in the public spotlight with a string of national security speeches, and now, trying to put Democrats in a box by forcing them to take a stand and vote on Mr. Bush’s authority to run two of his most controversial antiterror programs.
But Senators Warner, McCain and Graham appeared to be providing cover for the Democrats, allowing them to stay on the sidelines while the three senators, respected Republicans with distinguished military records, take on the White House.
“We think that this is a sincere effort, based on principle, by Senators Warner, McCain and Graham, to come up with the best legislation they can,” said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and a member of the Armed Services Committee.
Asked whether Democrats were worried that the Republicans might yield to the White House, Mr. Reed said: “I haven’t seen any evidence of that yet. What I’ve seen is that they’re approaching this looking at the substance, not just over weeks and months, but what’s in the best interests of the United States, what’s in the best interests of American military personnel who might years from now be held.”
That is a strong message from Mr. Reed - Democrats are willing to be led by these Republicans but not those Republicans.
The administration had also faced resistance over the N.S.A. wiretapping program. The Democrats had bottled up the administration’s proposals, saying Congress was being forced to legislate “in the dark” about a secret program that few members had been briefed on. They have repeatedly used procedural maneuvers to block the proposals from coming to a vote in the Judiciary Committee, drawing accusations of obstructionism from Republicans.
But Democrats, who appeared to realize the risk of being accused of thwarting debate on national security matters, did not stand in the way of the committee vote on Wednesday.
There may have been a deal here, although the Times does not state that:
Democrats claimed a partial victory on the wiretapping issue when they won Judiciary Committee approval of another measure that could effectively ban the security agency’s eavesdropping program.
That plan, drafted by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, would affirm that the foreign intelligence law passed by Congress in 1978, requiring court approval for eavesdropping, as the “exclusive” means of authorizing wiretaps in the United States against suspected terrorists and spies.
Democrats succeeded in getting two Republican moderates, Mr. Specter and Mr. Graham, both of whom had voiced concerns over the legal aspects of the wiretapping program, to vote in favor of the proposal and send it to the full Senate.
That set the stage for the unusual spectacle of the Judiciary Committee — and its chairman — supporting two proposals that many lawmakers said would effectively nullify each other if passed.
The fundamental problem faced by the Dems is obvious - their base supports positions that are not electable, or at least, the Dems are afraid to find out.
Evidently, Reps are not concerned that support for warrantless eavesdropping will carry an electoral penalty.