Monday, December 17, 2007

Stand Your Ground Award: Chris Dodd

It's not often we give one of these away. I much prefer giving the "Stand Your Ground" away to giving one of this award or this award. Sadly, so few politicians earn this one. Today, though, Chris Dodd stood up and was counted.

As Senator Dodd's campaign site explains:

Majority Leader Harry Reid has just pulled the FISA bill from consideration in this session. It will be brought up at some point next month.

Without Senator Dodd's leadership today, it is safe to assume that retroactive immunity would have passed.


Throughout the day Senator Dodd stood on the Senate floor and spoke out against the Bush administration's abuse of executive powers. He spoke out against granting retroactive immunity for telecom companies who helped the Bush administration spy on Americans without warrant - noting that if we grant immunity now, we may never know the full extent of what happened behind closed doors and what arguments were used to justify warrantless surveillance.

Constitution Protected...For Now

With little outward help from his fellow Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, Dodd stood up to this foolish bill. He has, with the help of many blogs, progressive groups, and previous SYG awardee Russ Feingold, shaken the Democratic "leadership" in Congress up enough that they've tabled the bill, at least for now.

I have no illusions that this is over, but it is a good sign. Hopefully, the pebbles will once again be allowed to vote.

(h/t Taylor Marsh)

UPDATE: Eli explains what would happen if we had a sane Congress:

I would love to see the Democrats now adopt a minimalist, take-it-or-leave-it position now, along the lines of, “Okay, Dubya, we’re going to pass a bill that resolves the foreign-to-foreign-via-the-US problem… and absolutely nothing else. If you don’t want to sign it, we’re perfectly happy to let the Protect America Act lapse in February, and we don’t think anyone will notice the difference. Your move, tough guy.”

FISA Update

That's about what should happen, but this Congress could screw up a sunny day. I think the best we can hope for is that they just forget what they were doing and go home.

UPDATE (Dec. 18): Matt Browner-Hamlin's blog at Sen. Dodd's website has several entries today about the FISA bill. Here he quotes the Senator as he was speaking on the floor of the Senate yesterday:

No more blowing through the laws. Not here. Not tonight. Not this member. Not on this bill. No more blowing through the bills. You don't get granted retroactive immunity - not as long as I can stand here and fight this. And I intend to do just that.

No More Blowing Through The Laws

Dodd spent ten hours on the floor yesterday to stop this thing. Without him, I think there's little doubt it would have passed.

In contrast to Senators Clinton and Obama, who have used their influence as candidates largely to bolster their own campaigns and have avoided taking difficult stands whenever possible, Dodd did something useful with his - he prevented a horrible bill from passing. Clinton and Obama had to be repeatedly goaded into making even tepid statements in support of this stand. That contrast alone makes this a special moment in what's been a very dark year.

As I've mentioned before, talk is often cheap in politics. Actions like Chris Dodd's, which back up those words, are the things that are really noteworthy.

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