Ode to Donna Edwards’ Wheaties

I don’t actually know that this sudden outbreak of spine and seemingly coordinated messaging among Democrats is the result of seeing Donna Edwards kick a Democratic incumbent’s behind, but she’s a great person and might as well get the credit. Here’s Silvestre Reyes:

Because I care so deeply about protecting our country, I take strong offense to your suggestion in recent days that the country will be vulnerable to terrorist attack unless Congress immediately enacts legislation giving you broader powers to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans’ communications and provides legal immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the Administration’s warrantless surveillance program.


If our nation is left vulnerable in the coming months, it will not be because we don’t have enough domestic spying powers. It will be because your Administration has not done enough to defeat terrorist organizations– including al Qaeda– that have gained strength since 9/11. We do not have nearly enough linguists to translate the reams of information we currently collect. We do not have enough intelligence officers who can penetrate the hardest targets, such as al Qaeda. We have surged so many intelligence resources into Iraq that we have taken our eye off the ball in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a result, you have allowed al Qaeda to reconstitute itself on your watch.

You have also suggested that Congress must grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies. As someone who has been briefed on our most sensitive intelligence programs, I can see no argument why the future security of our country depends on whether past actions of telecommunications companies are immunized.

The issue of telecom liability should be carefully considered based on a full review of the documents that your Administration withheld from Congress for eight months. However, it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to say that we will be vulnerable unless we grant immunity for actions that happened years ago.


I urge you, Mr. President, to put partisanship aside and allow Republicans in Congress to arrive at a compromise that will protect America and protect our Constitution.

I, for one, do not intend to back down – not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.

We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won. [my emphasis]

And here’s Harry Reid:

I regret your reckless attempt to manufacture a crisis over the reauthorization of foreign surveillance laws. Instead of needlessly frightening the country, you should work with Congress in a calm, constructive way to provide our intelligence professionals with all needed tools while respecting the privacy of law-abiding Americans.

Both the House and the Senate have passed bills to reauthorize and improve the Protect America Act. Democrats stand ready to negotiate with Republicans to resolve the differences between the House and Senate bills. That is how the legislative process works. Your unrealistic demand that the House simply acquiesce in the Senate version is preventing that negotiation from moving forward.

Our bicameral system of government was designed to ensure broad bipartisan consensus for important laws. A FISA bill negotiated between the House and the Senate would have firmer support in Congress and among the American people, which would serve the intelligence community’s interest in creating stronger legal certainty for surveillance activities.

That negotiation should take place immediately. In the meantime, we should extend the current Protect America Act. Earlier this week you threatened to veto an extension, and at your behest Senate Republicans have blocked such a bill. Yesterday every House Republican voted against an extension.

Your opposition to an extension is inexplicable. Just last week, Director of National Intelligence McConnell and Attorney General Mukasey wrote to Congress that “it is critical that the authorities contained in the Protect America Act not be allowed to expire.” Similarly, House Minority Leader Boehner has said “allowing the Protect America Act to expire would undermine our national security and endanger American lives, and that is unacceptable.” And you yourself said at the White House today: "There is really no excuse for letting this critical legislation expire." I agree.

Nonetheless, you have chosen to let the Protect America Act expire. You bear responsibility for any intelligence collection gap that may result.

Fortunately, your decision to allow the Protect America Act to expire does not, in reality, threaten the safety of Americans. As you are well aware, existing surveillance orders under that law remain in effect for an additional year, and the 1978 FISA law itself remains available for new surveillance orders. Your suggestion that the law’s expiration would prevent intelligence agents from listening to the conversations of terrorists is utterly false.

Imagine that? A leader from both the House and Senate repeating roughly the same message–Bush should stop fear-mongering and do what it takes to really protect the country. Democrats reasonably successfully countering a predictable Bush attack!

Before you know it, we’ll be adequately represented on the Sunday shows, and we’ll actually discover that if we simply try to win the messaging battle, it might well help us win some political battles.

It must be the Wheaties…

26 replies
  1. wkwf says:

    if we simply try to win the messaging battle, it might well help us win some political battles.

    Hasn’t that always been the problem? Too much of “let’s get some work done, ANY work done, even if it’s work we don’t particularly like” attitude, and too little of “expose the Repugs’ BS for what it is”. It’s as if all they care about is to not be called a “they didn’t pass any more bills than we did!” Congress, so quantity is taking priority over quality.

  2. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Let’s hope Putin doesn’t hear about about Congressional Wheaties. Or AQ. They’ve gotten might used to sweeping Booshie and Condi around like dust bunnies in a closet, without much more than a blow of air.

    They might get worried if they think someone might actually start looking out for US security.

    And I can’t believe I wrote that — after being let down by the Dems who voted for Iraq, and then let Booshies intimidate them for years.

    Back to the fainting couch for me before I pass out from shock today!

  3. bmaz says:

    Glad you wrote this, because I was about to ask what placed the bee in the Dem bonnet (mostly House) the last two days. It sure doesn’t seem like this was any set plan coordinated with the Senate. If it was, or even if the Senate knew this was coming, I sure think they would have gone about things differently, even if the final result was the same. Now they look pitiful. I guess it is nice that Reid drafted his missive; but a little hollow coming from him. As to Reyes, a very good letter, I wonder who wrote it?

    My best current guess is the rollicking, energized and beyond huge turnouts in the primaries and caucuses, and the loud voice the young and progressive were voicing was noticed by our favorite critters. Then donna Edwards was the coup de gras. I am pleasantly shocked so far. I dunno; I guess we will see if our tenuous joy maintains……

    • emptywheel says:


      You’re not the only one wondering who wrote Reyes’ letter. Hopefully, all the attention it has garnered will get that person a raise and the ability to write more, similar letters.

    • sojourner says:

      Not to put too fine a point on it, but it is not just the left that they need to fear… There are many of us who no longer recognize the Republican Party that has been hijacked by all the neocons under the guise of “protecting America.” It has to be the greatest flim-flam of all time!

      Where I am going is that the Left, the Right, and many people in between are getting ready to come down hard on the neocons and those who support them. I am anxious to see what happens in this year’s elections…

      Do I smell a revolt coming?????

      • Loo Hoo. says:

        Keith said it right out loud. Fascism. Americans of all stripes are getting it. Something is fundamentally wrong.

      • Minnesotachuck says:

        Dead on! When I was inducted into the Army for my two years, going on 45 years ago now, I had to sign an affidavit to the effect that I did not then nor had ever been a member of any of the supposedly subversive organizations on the McCarthy era’s Attorney General’s List. If that list were in existence today (fortunately it was sh*t-canned in the early 70s), the GOP would deserve a place at its top! It has become more dangerous to the future of our democracy than the Comintern ever was.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        I think the revolt is going to knock out some of the BlueDogs as well as the Rethugs. I also suspect the revolt is more deeply social, economic, environmental, and justice-related than simple ‘partisan politics’ narratives convey.

        If the Dems think it is simply about becoming a majority party again, rather than fundamentally altering the institutions, priorities, and inequalities, they’ll drown in the same tsunami that seems headed for the GOP.

        My 2 cents.

  4. prostratedragon says:

    Oh, they should really be embarrassed.

    So, what’s next to keep them from settling back into complacency?

  5. prostratedragon says:

    I’m just a bit concerned about their attention span. It has proven short as recently as late 2006.

  6. bonkers says:

    No matter how much our current “leaders” start pandering to us, we must never forget what they have enabled. And they must never be forgiven.

    I’m not normally so harsh, but things have gotten so extreme that it is inexcusable. Go Donna and other future Blue Americans!

  7. AZ Matt says:

    I was travelling to Costa Rica on the day of the Maryland primary, what was the percent of Donna´s win over her opponent? I dropped her $´s the last couple of years so it is nice to know that has paid off.

  8. masaccio says:

    We win two in one day? Maybe we’re all eating our Wheaties. I sent a couple of fire-breathing name-calling faxes, I feel rewarded, kind of like the pecking pigeon. Now I’ll probably send some more.

  9. Dismayed says:

    Roll heads in the primaries, that is the key. To hell with worrying about gathering seniority for your reps, what good is seniority if they don’t do what the constituents tell them to do?

    I’ve long said when they fear the electorate more than they fear the bully pulpit, we’ll get things done.

    We should roll every capitulatory head we can find in the primaries to show these people that they will do the bidding of the people, or they will have to find a real job.

    It was a good day, way too little, way too late, but finally a peep of promise. The message may be starting to get through, but it needs to be driven home. ROLL HEADS IN THE PRIMARIES! That is and will always be the key. Accoutablilty starts within our own party – this is a lesson Republicans are far, far, far from understanding, and this is why they have such deep malignacy.

    We must hold our own accoutable first.

  10. BlueStateRedHead says:

    I don’t actually know that this sudden outbreak of spine and seemingly coordinated messaging among Democrats is the result

    of their reading Empty Wheeler, but I sure as hell like to think that it did.
    Happy Bluevantine day all and especially EW. St. Valentine lost her (her?) head, but we gained a spine to match the head at the head of this blog.

    What a great blue day. Except in Illinois. prayers to the students and their families.

  11. freepatriot says:

    Donna Edwards, I love you

    don’t get jealous or anything ew, it’s not like she’s my muse or anything like that …

    best 10 bucks I ever spent …

    my donation list is 2 and 0

    I sent 10 bucks to 8 different candidates challenging bluedogs or repuglitards, and 10 bucks each to Digby and Atrios. Might not sound like much, but the election is a long way away, and I got some extra money coming from working the election.

    one thing though;, I might have to send my bluedog congresscritter some money too. I promised to donate if the Democrats could give the repuglitards a hissy fit next week too

  12. freepatriot says:

    in case anybody is wondering, the LANDSLIDE has begun

    hillary is beginning to fade away

    the repuglitards had their bluff called

    Donna Edwards probably should be remembered as the first pebble

    by July, this sucker is really gonna be moving, so we should recognize the roots early, before we start sufing this wave over the grave of the repuglitard party

    I once saw a documentary about a festival, similar to the Palio di Siena and the The festival of San Fermín. The principle feature of this festival was a game, played on a mud “court” (twice the size of a tennis court) surrounded by a 3 foot high fence, with 1 foot high goals at each end, above the fence and stretching the width of the court. There were about 30 men on each team, and a team only had to score ONE goal to win the game. The only rule in the game was that YOU CAN’T KICK AN UNCONSCIOUS MAN (which leads me to believe that HITTING an unconscious man was legal). for the first few hours, it was a free-for-all. it was even BETTER THAN FOOTBALL (if I’m sayin that, you KNOW this was good)

    this political season kinda reminds me of that festival

    with one exception:


    I might be a bleeding-heart-liberal and a proud DFH, but I ain’t no pacifist

  13. katiejacob says:

    Best valentines of the century, Conyer’s letter to Fielding, Reyes’ letter to Bush and the picture of the republicans crying outside of the capital.

  14. ProfessorFoland says:

    It’s really not easy to primary an incumbent–it is a real signal, and there’s no chance it hasn’t been noticed. As Jane pointed out with Lieberman–for all his colleagues’ public bravado about how the netroots didn’t quite manage to dislodge him, internally every one of them was very aware that Lieberman had had to raise $17M to hold onto a very safe seat.

    Nonetheless I’m with bmaz–I suspect that voter turnout in Dem vs GOP primaries has gotten their attention even more than Donna Edwards. But I’m perfectly happy to give as much credit as possible to her.

  15. njr83 says:

    yes, bmaz,
    As to Reyes, a very good letter, I wonder who wrote it?

    my thoughts exactly as I read the letter… and a tiny flame leapt up momentarily
    perhaps the congress is getting some messages, a slow move toward the force…

  16. BlueStateRedHead says:

    Morning after and I am still Blue in the best sense of the term. BTW BSRH junior (the one who made the town send her ballot fedex and the US embassy get it the town in time to vote Democratic) is in the world’s largest democracy, India.

    BSRH jr –who will talk to anybody in all classes with great effect, and has done so from the heights of Tibet to the (the mother shivers) North Korean border, reports that people of all sorts don’t understand primaries but they do understand there is an obama and he represents a chance to change their view of America.

    I am off for the weekend. Keep the constitution in one piece for us, EW and crew.

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