Thursday, October 20, 2005

October 19, 2005

The Time Out Clock is Running

Over the next six months fate will hand Democrats a once-in-a-political lifetime opportunity – a time out. While Republicans are busy fighting over who the real conservatives are -- and if Harriet Miers is one -- and defending themselves against mounting evidence of sleaze and criminality at the highest levels of their party, Democrats will receive the gift of time. Time to stop trying to figure out if they should triangulate towards "the center," or the "left," in a cynical search for some elusive demographic sweet spot, and instead time to just do the right thing, for a change. Things everyone out here in the real world knows needs doing and fixing the things we already know need fixin'.

The Time Out Clock has already begun ticking. Republicans are up to their hips in trouble. Key players are on the injured list. Both their Congressional leaders are hamstrung with mounting legal problems and, by next week the White House first string players will be too.

Tick, tick, tick... time out. Time for the beaten, dispirited, clueless, valueless and now nearly irrelevant Democrat Party, to regroup and recover. They are getting the unbelievable luxury to do what can't be done in the heat of battle.

In case they don't know what I mean, here's a crib sheet they can work off:

Self-discovery and Reconnection

* Time to rediscover who they are, and why they're here.
* Time to catch up with middle class Americans who were snookered by the GOP's phony "values" campaign
* Time to become reacquainted with the growing number of working poor in America who have seen their wages stagnate and whither, even as prices for life's basic necessities soar.
* Time to remind themselves that New Orleans is not the only American city in which masses of poor and minorities live in obscure and precarious proximity to utter despair.

Reflection and Penance

* Time to apologize for their part in authorizing this administration to take our nation to war on false pretenses.
* Time to reflect on why so many of them actually voted for the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that gutted the federal Treasury and led to cuts in domestic programs benefiting the poorest Americans.
* Time to apologize to working Americans for allowing trade pacts that encourage the export of good-paying blue, gray and white collar jobs to cheap labor venues outside the US.
* Time to explain how they allowed – and even helped -- the banking and credit card industries gut bankruptcy protections for Americans burdened by crushing, unconscionably high-interest credit card debt and bills from catastrophic medical emergencies.

Redemption and Rebirth

* Time to set forth a coherent and responsible plan for extricating us from the Iraq brier patch.
* Time to study and propose a single-payer national health plan blending the strengths of the private sector with the buying power of the federal government to, not just control health care costs, but make quality health care affordable and available to all Americans, regardless of age, condition, income or class.
* Time to set forth a plan that balances the federal budget, beginning by rolling back the tax breaks given by this administration to the wealthiest Americans.
* Time to propose a detailed, 20-year program to repair and modernize America's crumbling infrastructure and, in the process, creating tens of thousands of construction jobs.
* Time to formulate principals to be applied to all future trade deals that creates both fair and free trade, including insisting that those nations that wish access for their goods to the American markets provide worker and environmental protections equal to those required of American-based manufactures.
* Time to formulate and propose how they plan to revive America's failing education system by assuring adequate funding for schools, raising the salaries and the professionalism of teachers, while holding teachers and administrators to the highest level of accountability.
* Time to formulate an immigration policy that is not designed to cater only to the growing Hispanic demographic, but the nation. Such an immigration policy must include both a manageable documented guest worker program and strong employer sanctions – civil and criminal -- for companies caught hiring undocumented workers. Anything less would be a knife in the back of American workers.
* Time to stop pretending that Social Security and Medicare are not heading for a demographic cliff and develop and propose a responsible plan that secures both to the end of the century.

Sure there's a lot more that needs fixing but, I think you would agree, that would be one hell of start. We know they can do it when they want to, because they did some of these things during the Clinton years. Hillary's health care plan might actually have worked, had she not become a bigger issue than health care itself. (Which is why I still plead, "Just say no to Hillary in 08. Because, fairly or unfairly, Hillary will always be "the issue.")

Anyway, I just wanted to let the Democrats know that the Time Out Clock has been started. They have about six months to huddle in the locker room and come up with plan for the last quarter of the game. Otherwise there will be no "Super Bowl" for them in 06 -- or 08.

Time Out For Tom
Later this week former House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, will be arraigned in Texas on charges of conspiracy and money laundering. His lawyers tried to convince Texas authorities to let DeLay phone it in, but they said, "no way."

So on Friday Tom DeLay will have to surrender himself to Texas Rangers, be finger-printed and mug shots will be taken.

Now, if we can only convince Texas authorities to let photographers in while they check his hair for lice.