Saturday, June 04, 2005

Ben Nelson "Democrat of the Week"

by Kyle Michaelis
The "centrist" Democratic Leadership Council bestowed its occasional "Democrat of the Week" title on Ben Nelson a few days ago for his leadership in creating the filibuster compromise that prevented the Nuclear showdown, as reported on the Nebraska Democratic Party's blog. The DLC wrote of Nelson:
In his success, he revealed both a respect for bipartisanship and a faith in sane politics over partisan orthodoxy. For weeks leading up to the impending confrontation, he worked quietly to cobble together and bolster up a group of leaders who crossed party lines and advocated a reasoned stand down.

On the eve of Republican Leader Bill Frist's (TN) decision to push forward with the nuclear option, Nelson, Republican Senator John McCain (AZ), and a dozen others announced their solution with relief and pride: "Our compromise was crafted within the rules of the Senate, without requiring a rules change or a change in minority rights in the Senate," Nelson said...

With eight years during the '90s as Nebraska's governor under his belt, Nelson has earned a reputation for hammering out real solutions that deliver tangible results. Last week in Washington, Nelson and his colleagues put that reputation to the test in an environment of bitter polarization...

What America saw last week in the work of Nelson and his colleagues, was not a long-term solution to any of the challenges Senate Democrats continue to face today. Rather, it is a promising beginning and one that manages also to honor and respect the party's core principles.

Well, that's quite the honor if you care what the Democratic Leadership Council thinks. Me? I appreciate the DLCs message but think they're way too liberal (ironic, eh?) when it comes to bad-mouthing Democrats with a differnet approach. Their false notion that there is one way with one message upon which Democrats can win is simply preposterous. While claiming to uphold the Democratic Party's history of being "a big tent", I can think of no other group that has gone to such lengths to silence the multitude of voices that make the Democratic Party strong.

Nevertheless, theirs is an essential voice of moderation, and, if they wouldn't be so sanctimonious about it, we'd be far better off for their existence. They were right to pay this respect to Senator Nelson, though it won't do him much good with those who make the same disastrous mistake as the DLC by declaring them traitors to the cause.

Of course, Nelson isn't very popular with those Democrats to begin with, especially after his vote last week to end debate on the nomination of John Bolton for US Ambassador to the United Nations. This broke with the vast majority of Democratic Senators, who have been holding up Bolton's confirmation until a number of documents are provided by the White House assumed to further demonstrate Bolton's suspect demeanor and prior abuses of power.

Nelson was wrong on this vote - at least at this stage, no doubt about it. More debate is called for. He'll be downright idiotic, though, if when all is said and done he follows through with his stated intention to vote for confirming Bolton. Of course, in a state where Bush is as popular as he is in Nebraska, a Senator must be mindful of a President's right to surround himself with the people he chooses, but this choice is such an insult to the global community and the very ideas on which the UN is founded that it defies reason and hurts the entire country. At the very least, I expect Nelson to keep his ears and mind open to further evidence of Bolton's unsuitability for this position. If he's truly an independent voice rather than just a smart politician that knows which way the wind blows, he at least owes us that.

Hero one day, villian the next...I don't have to like it, but I've got to appreciate the genius of it. Interestingly, THEE question of Nelson's reelection may come down to, does he have more begrudging support than he does lukewarm opposition? What a delicate balance that must be, though you've got to think those who don't care much about partisan labels or politics in general (the silent majority?) would find a cat like Nelson right up there alley.


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