State of the Union: Should Democratic Lawmakers Walk Out on Bush?
This is the argument espoused recently by William Rivers Pitt:
I have a wild and crazy idea. George W. Bush's delivery of the State of the Union address will take place on Tuesday, January 31, a little more than a week from now. It is my strong belief that every single Democrat present in the House chamber for the speech should, at a predetermined moment, stand up and walk out. No yelling. No heated words. Every Democrat should simply stand silently and leave.Americans of all political stripes—Democrats, Republican, Greens, independents, and others—should respect the Office of the Presidency, although not necessarily the person holding that office. Moreover, in the Constitution of the Unites States, it does quite unequivocally state that the president shall "from time to time give Congress Information of the State of the Union." So, it is the duty of Democratic lawmakers to participate in a function mandated in the Constitution.
Also, the move would probably backfire as Republican operatives, acting as spinmeisters after the speech, would claim that Democrats have no respect for the presidential office, and make moderate Republicans and independents who have turned on Bush (hence his low popularity ratings) go back into the anyone but a Democrat tent. There is certain amount of decorum that Americans should follow no matter who holds the executive office. Showing up during the address is that certain amount of decorum. In short, the gesture will be seen as a "cheap political stunt."
Besides how can we get "every single Democrat" to walk out. I'm not even sure we can carry out an Alito filibuster in the Senate right now. Democrats, even more than Republicans, tend be "political entrepreneurs" rather than hard-core party loyalists. This is true because in America we have a weak party system unlike, let's say, in Britain where the political Parties help their candidates every step of the way in getting elected. In America, it’s often catch-as-catch-can.
However, having said that, I do think Democratic lawmakers should dramatically curtail and limit much of the standing, cheering, and applause that always follow after certain comments are made by presidents during their address. And, if Bush says something idiotic (one never knows), like defending in his address the clearly illegal wiretappings done by the National Security Agency as legal because Congress gave him the necessary authority force to protect the American people, this Democrat would not mind Democratic lawmakers yelling in unison, much like they do in Britain’s parliament, "Shame, shame, shame."
Where we Democrats will get the law-breaking Bush is in the Courts (the ACLU has filed a law suit over the clearly illegal wiretappings) and in Congressional hearings. In fact, Sen. Arlen Specter (R- Pennsylvania), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has convened for a February 6th hearing; thank God for the Republican moderates who follow their conscience and follow the law and are not beholding to a radical national political party—Sen. Specter is clearly not a "movement conservative."
That's where we'll get Bush and just in time because, as the leader of his party, it will certainly hurt Republican lawmakers running for office in the mid-term elections coming up in November. I bet my lunch money that many Republicans will distance themselves from Bush in the upcoming elections and, as such, it becomes problematic for Bush to advance his political agenda. I say Bush is a lame duck president with three years to go.
Yes, I’m looking forward to tuning in on Tuesday and see how many lies and obfuscations Bush will deliver. The speech will be great fodder for progressive bloggers like the Splinters Team Blog.
Let’s get him, progressives.
For information about the ACLU suit click here.
For information about the additional clients in the NSA SPY-PROGRAM ACLU suit click here.