Glen Greenwald laid into Senate Democrats for confirming Michael Mukasey’s nomination as Attorney General:
Every time Congressional Democrats failed this year to stop the Bush administration (i.e., every time they "tried"), the excuse they gave was that they "need 60 votes in the Senate" in order to get anything done.
Beyond that, four Senate Democrats running for President missed the vote, and all four had announced they oppose Mukasey’s confirmation.
Numerous Senate Democrats delivered dramatic speeches from the floor as to why Mukasey’s confirmation would be so devastating to the country. The Washington Post said the "vote came after more than four hours of impassioned floor debate."
"Torture should not be what America stands for . . . I do not vote to allow torture," said Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy. Russ Feingold said: "we need an attorney general who will tell the president that he cannot ignore the laws passed by Congress. And on that fundamental qualification for this office Judge Mukasey falls short." Feingold added: "If Judge Mukasey won’t say the simple truth — that this barbaric practice is torture — how can we count on him to stand up to the White House on other issues?"
Wow — it sounds as though there was really a lot at stake in this vote. So why would 44 Democratic Senators make a flamboyant showing of opposing confirmation without actually doing what they could to prevent it?
The Post said the vote "reflected an effort by Democrats to register their displeasure with Bush administration policies on torture and the boundaries of presidential power." Apparently, they wanted to oh-so-meaningfully "register their displeasure" but not actually stop confirmation.
Yes, I’d say that’s exactly right. The Democrats who in 2006 were going to change the way that the nation does the business of politics have accomplished absolutely nothing toward that goal. Why is anyone surprised? It’s not like these folks haven’t been in charge of Congress before. Nothing’s changed.
Why? Democrats over-promised in ’06 in their fervor to get elected. Did they actually intend to keep the promises they made? Most of them probably did. Funny thing about the weight of responsibility, though. Once they had to be accountable for their actions it became a lot harder to be radical change agents.
In the case of Mukasey, it’s clear that the torture issue was political rather than practical.