Democrats win: Here come the constituency payoffs

The Democrats are just doing what any party does when they win power: Payback the folks that brung you. And no one should mistake voters with the folks that brung ’em. The Democrats certainly aren’t.

First payoff: Unions.

Even as their confrontation with President Bush over Iraq escalates, emboldened congressional Democrats are challenging the White House on a range of issues — such as unionization of airport security workers and the loosening of presidential secrecy orders — with even more dramatic showdowns coming soon.

Would unionizing airport security workers make us safer or make the system work better? That seems unlikely, to say the least. It would make airport security workers practically unfirable. But it would pay off the unions that strongarm members–in ways other political movement leaders can’t–into donating to the Democrat cause.

Second payoff: Terrorists.

Democratic lawmakers expect to open new fronts against the president when they return from their spring recess, including politically risky efforts to quickly close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; reinstate legal rights for terrorism suspects; and rein in what Democrats see as unwarranted encroachments on privacy and civil liberties allowed by the USA Patriot Act.

And —

They also want to reopen last year’s law creating military commissions to restore the right of habeas corpus to terrorism suspects and to revise rules that allow convictions to be based in part on evidence yielded by interrogation methods that critics call torture.

The Gitmo detainees are captured illegal enemy combatants. They were captured battling against US troops during the war in Afghanistan, or in places like Pakistan, where they plotted attacks against Americans. They are not US citizens, and they are not common criminals. Granting them access to the rights afforded US citizens accused of common crime may be the most idiotic idea currently under discussion. And the Democrats are hell-bent to see it happen. Clearly they’re putting the rights of captured enemy combatants, who have never in our history been granted class access to civilian courts, above the rights and safety of the American people. Clearly, the Democrats believe they’re going to benefit from this somehow. The Democrats might be naive enough to believe that granting capture enemy combatants access to civilian courts would win the US favor with the so-called international community. And it might, a little. But will it help us win the war? Is this something average Americans even support?

There’s more in the story, about repealing the Bush tax cuts and tinkering with the Patriot Act. President Bush has promised to veto about 16 things the Democrats say they want to do. Veto or not, the Democrats will have put themselves on the record siding against the safety of Americans on several high-profile issues. They will have put themselves on the record as fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of the enemy we’re fighting. If the Republicans don’t beat them back and then remind the voters of these efforts in 2008, they don’t deserve to regain power.

More: I forgot to highlight this quote.

“We have a very consequential and just system of justice. To create a system that is a dual system but not just is not acceptable, and that’s Guantanamo,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Feinstein makes it explicit: Terrorists captured on battlefields engaged in combat against US troops, or captured in faraway places plotting attacks against Americans, should have the exact same rights as US citizens. Khalid Sheik Mohammed should have the exact same rights in the US judicial system as his intended American victims. That’s where the Democrats stand.