On Monday, Senator Chris Dodd simply and forcefully showed what one principled man can do in America. Just when the rest of the Democratic Party was on the verge of the one billionth collapse to George W. Bush in a row, Dodd stepped in to stop the cave-in.
The issue at hand was giving retroactive immunity to the telecommunication companies for breaking the FISA law. First of all, think about that, why would you need immunity if you haven't broken the law? And if you broke the law, why should Congress let you get away with it? But of course, they were going to.
Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid planned to bring up the version of the new FISA bill that the Republicans supported. He favored the approach supported by Dick Cheney rather than the other version put together by Democratic Senator Pat Leahy. Why he did that is an open question, to say the least.
And, of course, our so-called Democratic leaders who are running for president, with the obvious exception of Sen. Dodd, were missing in action. I thought Fox News might devote their whole coverage to Senator Clinton today since she was a missing blond.
Meanwhile, Senator Obama made his bid for the Profiles in Courage Hall of Fame by issuing a press release saying since he didn't have to be there for the fight (because they would only counting votes against Dodd and he would be voting with Dodd), he wouldn't. In essence, he was saying -- since I don't have to be there, I won't. Inspiring!
But despite the fact that his Majority Leader sided with the Bush administration and none of the Democratic leading candidates for president showed up, Senator Dodd pressed on anyway. Because, maybe just one person could make a difference.
The first vote was 76-10 against Senator Dodd. It didn't look good. Trying to get forty Democrats to stand up to President Bush is a Herculean task. They're using to giving up without a fight. In fact, in his first speech of the morning Senator Dodd mentioned that the Democrats had said over and over that they would fight the next time against the next Bush administration abuse, but never did. And he said the time had come to draw the line. He said why not here, why not now?
Then when he began the fight a curious thing happened. It turned out the Republicans and the Bush folks weren't as mean and tough as advertised. The filibuster could have lasted 108 hours in all to get through all the cloture motions and the Senate would have gotten nothing done the week before Christmas break. They couldn't countenance that, so voila, victory!
Just that simple. Harry Reid came out and said they were going to table immunity for the telecoms and consider it after the break. The bill didn't pass and Bush and the people who helped him break the law were not given retroactive immunity for the crimes they might have committed.
Good guys win, bad guys lose. All it took was one Senator and an afternoon. And we stopped them cold in their tracks. Now, that wasn't so hard, was it?
Now, imagine if the Democrats all united to fight the Bush administration together. Then, they just might be able to beat the most unpopular president of all time every once in awhile.
Will other Democrats learn anything from this? Will they get the message that it doesn't take that much to fight these guys and that just one person can make a difference, let alone all of them fighting together? I hope so. I'd like to ask Senator Clinton if she got the message, but I couldn't find her.