The episode was the culmination of a shameful era in which serious issues related to national security and civil liberties were debated in a climate of fear and intimidation, saturated by political calculation and the quest for short-term electoral advantage.Democrats are worried that they will provide Republican challengers and voters reasons to vote for someone else in the next election unless they appear strong on the WOT.
Politically, Republicans won this round in two ways. They got the president the bill he wanted and, as a result, they created absolute fury in the Democratic base. Pelosi has received more than 200,000 e-mails of protest, according to an aide, for letting the bill go forward.
Democrats concede they made an enormous tactical blunder by not dealing with the issue earlier, forcing the question to the fore in the days before the recess. One anxiety hovered over the debate: If a terrorist attack happened and Congress had not given Bush what he wanted, the Democrats would get blamed for a lack of vigilance.
What Democrat congressmen should really be worried about is whether I and other Democrats will vote for them in the next election.