The Good News and the Bad News

In the spirit of ending on an optimistic note, let’s look at the Bad News first.

James Wolcott, in a discussion of the Kerik Kerfuffle, takes the Dems to task for falling down on the job (again):
Then, in one of the most heartwarming holiday tales in many a year, it all unravelled [sic] and keeps unravelling [sic] even Kerik after withdrew his name from consideration. The juicy stories keep popping out of the NY tabloids and the blogs like clowns from a clown car.


I'm glad the press is having a dance party with this, because God knows the Democrats are frozen at the steering wheel. I just saw a segment on MSNBC (which has been all over the Kerik story today, bless Rick Kaplan's cyborg heart) pitting a Republican strategist against a Democratic one, and the Democratic spokesman--who goes by the name of Michael Brown--seemed to have washed down his weeny pills with warm Ovaltine. Instead of kicking Kerik and Giuliana between the uprights for three points, Brown fretted that vetting process for cabinet candidates was "going to far," and that we were in danger of discouraging people from public service. Oh no, we wouldn't want to discourage philandering, pocket-lining, deadbeat no-show bully-boys like Bernard Kerik from having the opportunity to muck around with our civil liberties in the name of "national security" and hold bigshot press conferences. I mean, if that sort of thing were to continue happening, people might start mistaking the Democrats for an opposition party and thinking that the press has an adversarial role to play, and we don't want that to happen, it might actually lead to signs of life in that mausoleum we call the nation's capital.

This Michael Brown wouldn't even criticize Alberto Gonzalez for botching the background check and vetting of Kerik.
Houston, we have a problem when the Right dishes up an opportunity like this and we don’t seize on it like a pitbull on a steak. Step one is pointing out the gaping intelligence whole we have if we can’t even vet our own guys effectively. Step two is pointing out the hypocrisy of an administration that seeks to criminalize marriage between one segment of the population to protect heterosexual marriage, but finds no problem with a man who actually managed to undermine the sanctity of his own marriage with affairs and possible bigamy.

In Good News, however, there’s this story from the AP, which tells me, if nothing else, that Harry Reid is nothing if not an enigma.
New Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said Monday his party will launch investigative hearings next year in response to what he said was the reluctance of Republicans to look into problems in the Bush administration.

"There are too many unasked and unanswered questions and the American public deserves better," the Nevada senator said at a news conference. He will formally succeed Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., as party leader next month.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who heads the Democratic Policy Committee, said the first hearing will be at the end of January and he suggested it might focus on contract abuse in Iraq. He said the policy committee, which has held occasional investigative hearings in the past, planned to convene at least one such hearing a month.

Dorgan said that with Republicans controlling the White House and both the House and Senate, "the congressional watchdog remains fast asleep in this Congress."


They said issues that "cry out" for closer investigation, in addition to contracting abuses in Iraq, include the administration's use of prewar intelligence and its reported effort to stifle information about the true cost of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. Reid also mentioned global warming and the "No Child Left Behind" education program as topics that needed a closer look.

The Democratic-organized hearings would not have subpoena powers, but Dorgan said there are plenty of whistleblowers "anxious to tell their story."

The two senators said they would step aside whenever Republicans agreed to hold regular committee hearings on a topic, and they would ask Republicans to provide testimony or witnesses at the Democratic hearings. Dorgan said 12 to 15 Senate Democrats would lead the new oversight effort.
Signs of life! I’m feeling a little thrill thinking the Dems might actually do something resembling a coherent opposition.

Now, is it too much to ask that they take the lesson from recent history? If you speak up as things happen, and make a move before things spiral out of control, you don’t need to convene investigative hearings covering four year’s worth of unaddressed scandals. And chances are, you don’t end up with the perpetrator staring down another four years of opportunity for his escalating madness.

Come on, Reid. Prove me wrong about you!

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