Incensed over President Obama’s tax compromise, House Democratic leaders are showing signs of abandoning the administration and going their own way on critical issues such as national security.
In a striking move, the Appropriations Committee late Wednesday attached a provision to a $1.1 trillion resolution to keep the government funded next year that would prevent Obama from spending any funds to try terrorism suspects in civilian court instead of military commissions.
The language would essentially prevent the closing of the detainee prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba.
Some House Democrats viewed the move as an act of defiance and a direct demonstration of just how furious the caucus is with Obama’s decision to work with Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax cuts.
But many other Democrats, including Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), a member of the defense appropriations subcommittee, said they didn’t even know the provision was included.
Moran’s anger with the president boiled over in a short interview Thursday with The Hill about the provision and the tax debate held shortly after the Democratic Caucus voted to reject Obama’s tax-cut deal.
“This is a lack of leadership on the part of Obama,” fumed Moran (D-Va.) “I don’t know where the f*** Obama is on this or anything else. They’re AWOL.”
Obviously, the White House welcomes some of these fights. They serve, after all, to make the Administration seem centrist, and to position the President for 2012. But still, to have Democrats reject funding that would allow the Administration to have terrorism suspects tried in civilian courts is a remarkable display of anger with a President that was at one time considered a savior of the Democratic party. The Obama Administration may well be triangulating away from the Congressional Democrats. But it would appear that Congressional Democrats are working to distance themselves from the Administration as well.
Or, as Peggy Noonan puts it:
We have not in our lifetimes seen a president in this position. He spent his first year losing the center, which elected him, and his second losing his base, which is supposed to provide his troops. There isn’t much left to lose! . . .