Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

February 4, 2009


John Nichols, Nation - No top Democrat did more to undermine opposition to the Republican regime than Daschle, who as the majority leader during the first years of George Bush's presidency put so much emphasis on the "loyal" part of the term "loyal opposition" that he failed his party and his country.

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Daschle schemed with the White House to organize a bailout for the domestic airline industry -- for which Daschle's wife was a lobbyist -- that made last fall's Wall Street bailout look like a model of fiscal accountability.

Then, Daschle worked with the Bush administration to undermine opposition to the Patriot Act in 2001 -- preventing Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold from introducing amendments that would have addressed vital civil liberties concerns.

A year later, Daschle worked in lockstep with the administration to secure congressional authorization in 2002 for an attack on Iraq.

Daschle even blocked Democratic efforts to defend the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty when Bush moved to withdraw the U.S. from the arms control agreement. . .

When he ran unsuccessfully for re-election in 2004, the Daschle campaign appealed to South Dakota voters with television ads that featured a picture of the Democratic leader hugging the Republican president and a headline that read: "Daschle: Time to Unite Behind Troops, Bush."

When Daschle briefly entertained the notion of bidding for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, he found that he had no base of support among grassroots Democrats, who correctly viewed him as an example of just about everything that was wrong with the party's congressional leadership during Bush's first term.

Rejected by voters in his home state and unable to compete nationally, Daschle pulled a Dick Cheney move. The South Dakotan attached himself to the campaign of a viable contender in hopes that he might find a path to power as a member of the next Democratic administration.


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