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The Democrats’ Alito Debacle



The pathetic failure of Democrats in the Senate to stick together and block the appointment of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court — a man committed to the idea of a president with unchecked, dictatatorial powers, and who favors corporations and the state over the individual — shows that it won’t just do to have Democrats take over Congress in November.

The Democrats who are still in Congress — especially the leadership, but even the rank-and-file members — are so spineless and habituated to caving in to Republican threats that they don’t even know how to stand on principle.

This means it won’t be enough to simply pick up 16 new Democratic seats in the House and six in the Senate in November. Those new seats will have to be filled by people who do stand for something. And the fake Democrats like Max Baucus (D-Montana), Kent Conrad (D-N. Dakota), Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) and Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) — there were 19 Democrats who voted for cloture, ending the chance of a filibuster, and one, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) who abstained — need to be challenged in primaries by real progressives, and punished for their betrayal of the Constitution and the hopes of those who sent them to Washington.

Impeachment of the criminal and power-mad President Bush will not even be possible as long as these frauds continue to dominate the Democratic Party. Only a grass-roots revolt among progressives during the primaries in support of candidates like Cindy Sheehan, who has announced plans to challenge Feinstein, will produce the kind of political shift that could turn around the country’s slide into authoritarianism.

Notice how as soon as Sheehan mentioned running against Feinstein in a primary, Feinstein, who had been dissing the idea of a filibuster, suddenly became a vote against cloture. There’s a lesson here.

And how about Sen. Byrd, who voted with the cowards? Up for election in November, this senator who has written so passionately about the Bush administration’s abuse of power and of the Constitution, and who has admonished his colleagues to stand up for the traditions of the Senate, showed himself to be just a coal-company-financed gasbag, endorsing the appointment of a nominee who lied at his confirmation hearing, and whose rulings and writings show he considers Congress to be, at best, a vestigial inconvenience to an all-powerful Executive.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at

He can be reached at:


Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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