Take One, They're Free

The Democratic Party probably thinks that this year's November elections will herald their return to Prime Time. Faced with a Republican Party beset by deep divisions over immigration reform, their all—too—well publicized difficulties on Valerie Plame, Hurricane Katrina, the NSA wire—tapping situation, Tom DeLay's fund—raising and redistricting adventures, and others too numerous to list here, you'd think, reading the press, that for Republicans, this is an off—year election Little Big Horn just waiting to happen.

Then the Supreme Court issued its Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision, which seemingly gave the Bush administration a defeat over the use of military tribunals for the terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay. And make no mistake, as reported in the Wall Street Journal's Opinionjournal.com, the pro—Democrat antique media flexed its considerable arbitrary muscle in describing the Supreme's decision in the most anti—Bush Administration terms possible: "repudiated; a sweeping and categorical defeat; sharp rebuke; emphatically rejecting; sharply rejected; blunt dismissal; eliminating a central pillar.'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wasted no time to jump on the opportunity to—predictably—criticize the President:

"The Supreme Court's decisions in the Hamdi case and the case involving the Guantanamo detainees are triumphs for the rule of law. The notion that the President has the unchallengeable authority to define the circumstances of a person's detention, especially that of a United States citizen, is contrary to our nation's history and experience."

After the ruling, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called on Congress to act quickly on legislation to give President Bush the authority needed to conduct military tribunals for terrorist detainees. Democratic Senator Jack Reed (appearing with Graham on the July 2nd Fox News Sunday program) issued a vaguely—worded general agreement with Graham's call for quick legislative action, but left open the distinct possibility of Democratic opposition to the idea of granting Presidential authority to conduct military tribunals.

If the Democrats oppose the Republicans on giving President Bush Congressional approval for the tribunals, they'll be making a political mistake of incalculable proportions. The idea that Al Qaeda suspects and detainees are entitled to the same Constitutional legal privileges as U.S. citizens, or the same Geneva Convention rights as legitimate uniformed soldiers, is an idea that any normal American—of any political party—would dismiss as ludicrous.

The American public wants their government to be tough on the terrorists. There is no division on this among the 'people on the street,' so to speak. Here is a perfect opportunity for the Democrats to show solidarity with the President, without paying any political price with the general public. The public is on the side of toughness. The Republicans want to grant Congressional authority. This is a golden chance for the Democrats to demonstrate their anti—terror bona fides without any political downside whatsoever. It's a free shot.

Yet there remains the undeniable sense that the Democrats' hatred of President Bush surpasses their ability to act in their own larger political interests. Particularly among the hard core left wing base.

There is a truism in business that has particular relevance to the Democrats' situation: During a sales presentation, if the salesperson knows that his product or service has an obvious shortcoming that will elicit an objection from his customer, the salesperson has a choice on how to deal with it. The average salesperson will try to extol their product's other virtues, hoping to essentially bury the objection with so many positive counter arguments that by time the objection is raised, it will seem insignificant in comparison. Sometimes this works; most often, it doesn't.

The exceptional salesperson will instead lead with the objection, right off the bat. Get it out there, expose it, explain it, and put it away for good. 'I know your store already carries two lines of small appliances and you probably aren't looking to add another. Well, I'm going to show you the world's highest—priced line of small appliances—and I'm going to show you why it makes perfect business sense for you to consider adding my line.'

See? The major objections—'high—priced' and 'already has two other lines'—are dealt with right up front in a way that acknowledges them, removes them, and makes the customer want to hear more.

The Democrats have a major built—in objection with the general electorate—they're perceived as 'soft on terror.' Congressional action in the aftermath of Hamdan is the opportunity for the Democrats to lead with that objection and remove it: 'We stand solidly with President Bush on this issue. We are not soft on terror. We want to pursue and punish the Al Qaeda terrorists quickly and decisively. Establishing a process for military tribunals through Congressional legislation is the proper way to do it. We will work with President Bush to get this accomplished right away.'

It's a free shot. The public wants this. There is no political penalty for the Democrats to pay. Other than the wrath of the Cindy Sheehan/MoveOn crowd.  But if they can't get over their base's myopic hatred of all things Bush, then this November might instead turn out to be what the Battle of Midway was for the Japanese in 1942—so promising at the beginning, such a disaster at the end.

The Democratic Party probably thinks that this year's November elections will herald their return to Prime Time. Faced with a Republican Party beset by deep divisions over immigration reform, their all—too—well publicized difficulties on Valerie Plame, Hurricane Katrina, the NSA wire—tapping situation, Tom DeLay's fund—raising and redistricting adventures, and others too numerous to list here, you'd think, reading the press, that for Republicans, this is an off—year election Little Big Horn just waiting to happen.

Then the Supreme Court issued its Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision, which seemingly gave the Bush administration a defeat over the use of military tribunals for the terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay. And make no mistake, as reported in the Wall Street Journal's Opinionjournal.com, the pro—Democrat antique media flexed its considerable arbitrary muscle in describing the Supreme's decision in the most anti—Bush Administration terms possible: "repudiated; a sweeping and categorical defeat; sharp rebuke; emphatically rejecting; sharply rejected; blunt dismissal; eliminating a central pillar.'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wasted no time to jump on the opportunity to—predictably—criticize the President:

"The Supreme Court's decisions in the Hamdi case and the case involving the Guantanamo detainees are triumphs for the rule of law. The notion that the President has the unchallengeable authority to define the circumstances of a person's detention, especially that of a United States citizen, is contrary to our nation's history and experience."

After the ruling, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called on Congress to act quickly on legislation to give President Bush the authority needed to conduct military tribunals for terrorist detainees. Democratic Senator Jack Reed (appearing with Graham on the July 2nd Fox News Sunday program) issued a vaguely—worded general agreement with Graham's call for quick legislative action, but left open the distinct possibility of Democratic opposition to the idea of granting Presidential authority to conduct military tribunals.

If the Democrats oppose the Republicans on giving President Bush Congressional approval for the tribunals, they'll be making a political mistake of incalculable proportions. The idea that Al Qaeda suspects and detainees are entitled to the same Constitutional legal privileges as U.S. citizens, or the same Geneva Convention rights as legitimate uniformed soldiers, is an idea that any normal American—of any political party—would dismiss as ludicrous.

The American public wants their government to be tough on the terrorists. There is no division on this among the 'people on the street,' so to speak. Here is a perfect opportunity for the Democrats to show solidarity with the President, without paying any political price with the general public. The public is on the side of toughness. The Republicans want to grant Congressional authority. This is a golden chance for the Democrats to demonstrate their anti—terror bona fides without any political downside whatsoever. It's a free shot.

Yet there remains the undeniable sense that the Democrats' hatred of President Bush surpasses their ability to act in their own larger political interests. Particularly among the hard core left wing base.

There is a truism in business that has particular relevance to the Democrats' situation: During a sales presentation, if the salesperson knows that his product or service has an obvious shortcoming that will elicit an objection from his customer, the salesperson has a choice on how to deal with it. The average salesperson will try to extol their product's other virtues, hoping to essentially bury the objection with so many positive counter arguments that by time the objection is raised, it will seem insignificant in comparison. Sometimes this works; most often, it doesn't.

The exceptional salesperson will instead lead with the objection, right off the bat. Get it out there, expose it, explain it, and put it away for good. 'I know your store already carries two lines of small appliances and you probably aren't looking to add another. Well, I'm going to show you the world's highest—priced line of small appliances—and I'm going to show you why it makes perfect business sense for you to consider adding my line.'

See? The major objections—'high—priced' and 'already has two other lines'—are dealt with right up front in a way that acknowledges them, removes them, and makes the customer want to hear more.

The Democrats have a major built—in objection with the general electorate—they're perceived as 'soft on terror.' Congressional action in the aftermath of Hamdan is the opportunity for the Democrats to lead with that objection and remove it: 'We stand solidly with President Bush on this issue. We are not soft on terror. We want to pursue and punish the Al Qaeda terrorists quickly and decisively. Establishing a process for military tribunals through Congressional legislation is the proper way to do it. We will work with President Bush to get this accomplished right away.'

It's a free shot. The public wants this. There is no political penalty for the Democrats to pay. Other than the wrath of the Cindy Sheehan/MoveOn crowd.  But if they can't get over their base's myopic hatred of all things Bush, then this November might instead turn out to be what the Battle of Midway was for the Japanese in 1942—so promising at the beginning, such a disaster at the end.