Monday, September 05, 2005

Where Are Our Democratic Leaders?

We liberals do a lot of lamenting the total takeover of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government by the Republican party and spend endless hours debating what Democrats can do to regain control of the national agenda.

How about this? Show some genuine leadership in a time of crisis. With our citizens dying in New Orleans, as if the Crescent City were some third-world backwater unworthy of humanitarian attention, where the hell are our Democratic leaders?

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has been one of the few who yelled loudly at the beginning of last week. "It was not enough for the president to bank his plane and look at the window and say, 'Oh, what a devastating site,'" said Lautenberg "Instead of looking out the window of an airplane, he should have been on the ground giving the people devastated by this hurricane hope."

But at a time of true American crisis – and one where the answers for relief have been so apparent to those of us watching helplessly – the leaders of the Democratic party have obviously still been sunning themselves in Maui, Martha's Vineyard or Cannes.

Their web sites all have the same empty sympathetic phrases: "My heart goes out to all of the families in our Gulf States who have been hurt or impacted by Hurricane Katrina's devastation."

Impacted? How about killed?

A quick tour of every Democratic Senator's web site finds very little true outrage and mostly a lot of blah-blah-blah that sounds more like it was written by a second-string, public-relations staffer than by an elected official truly indignant at the totally preventable deaths of our own citizens.

Democrats must expect more and we must show more – especially when the chips are so profoundly down -- if we want to once again be the dominant political party.

We have accepted that George W. Bush is a brainless, soulless figurehead, who we cannot look to for either thoughtful analysis or even the basics of human concern. We've even come to expect that the Republican party will not lift a finger to help Americans live a better life – after all, that's what makes them Republicans.

But where in the world are Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and even the normally lion-hearted Barbara Boxer when our own people are being killed with our government's indifference and total lack of moral rectitude.

Where is the Democratic National Committee and why isn't Howard Dean on every television news show ripping President Bush and his crew of incompetents for their role in the unnecessary death toll in Louisiana and Mississippi? My guess is that many of them do not have the courage to step into the political breach and that they are shrinking in the face of Bush's ludicrous claim that this is "not a time for politics."

This is exactly the time for politics.

Webster's defines politics as "the art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs."

Nothing cuts to the heart of controlling our internal affairs more than our poorest citizens being allowed to die of drowning, dehydration and starvation because our government fails to use the resources and authority bestowed upon it to save them.

And, at a time when Americans are watching in stunned disbelief and waiting for someone to take the lead in expressing our collective outrage and resolve, Democratic leaders are sitting on the sidelines like frightened spectators.

In the last week, we have witnessed two catastrophes: One of natural origin and one with its roots in a government with nothing but a corporate rudder and a president and Republican leadership who simply do not care.
Now is not the time for leaders of the party that has traditionally cared so much more about our citizens to disappear.

So I say again to our Democratic political leaders: Where the hell are you hiding?