After yesterday’s post suggesting that the Democrats hadn’t caved on the FISA vote, a number of commenters and bloggers pointed out to me that the outrage was that the Democratic leadership allowed the bill to come to a vote at all. They could have blocked it, thereby giving more time to push for the more sensible FISA reform bill proposed by Senators Rockefeller and Levin.
After thinking it over last night, I’ve decided that they’re correct. I hadn’t paid adequate attention to the procedural issues behind the FISA vote, and was too focused instead on the outcome of the vote itself. So I’m changing my mind, at least in part. The leadership was wrong not to block the vote, and it is fair to describe that failure as “caving.”
You see, when I think of “caving” I think of what the Democrats did in voting for the Patriot Act and for the Iraq War authorization. There I think a very large percentage of Democrats actively supported the measures solely out of fear and not conviction. So when eighty percent of them voted the right way on the FISA issue (compared to zero percent of the Republicans, let’s not forget), that seemed like the story to me. Perhaps I’ve become so accustomed to the Democrats being craven that I’m too eager to point to any hopeful signs. So, I think I got this one wrong. Sorry about that.