Preemptive Surrender

by on October 10, 2007 · 2 comments

This is just appalling. You cannot win a PR battle from a defensive crouch.

A top Democratic leader opened the door Tuesday to granting U.S. telecommunications companies retroactive legal immunity for helping the government conduct electronic surveillance without court orders, but said the Bush administration must first detail what those companies did.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said providing the immunity will likely be the price of getting President Bush to sign into law new legislation extending the government’s surveillance authority. About 40 pending lawsuits name telecommunications companies for alleged violations of wiretapping laws. Democrats introduced a draft version of the new law Tuesday without the immunity language.

If Congress passes legislation giving the president expanded wiretapping authority, and he vetoes it because it doesn’t include a get out of jail card for AT&T, that should be a PR disaster for the Republicans. The Democrats should be thrilled to go on the campaign trail saying “Mr. President, we passed legislation giving you the authority you requested. It’s not our fault you chose to put the interests of your friends in the telecom industry ahead of protecting American lives.”

Yet for some reason, the Democratic leadership seems to have chosen a strategy of preemptive surrender, where they announce in advance that they’re so terrified of a veto that they’ll give the president basically whatever he wants as long as he promises to sign it. Under those circumstances, the president obviously isn’t going to budge an inch.

Previous post:

Next post: