Ever since 9/11, some Democrats, especially those who have been afraid of being called 'unAmerican' or what is even worse, 'liberal' since the new era of McCarthyism began mid 1980's, have fallen over themselves to get on board for things they know (or should know) are just plain wrong, like the Patriot Act, the war (especially to keep sending money there since the whole WMD thing has been exposed as a farce) and CAFTA.
Now I don't have a problem with a Democrat who has an honest difference of opinion about something from the rest of the party voting their conscience (like for example, Harry Reid has consistenly been against abortion rights. Like 99% of Democrats, I don't agree with him about that-- see my post The success of liberals in stopping abortion for an analysis of why there are better ways to fight it than to ban it, but I can respect him for it-- and obviously his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, nearly all of whom are pro-choice, respected him enough to make him Majority Leader anyway). I can even respect a consistent hawk like Joe Lieberman because he has been consistently a hawk (would never vote for him though in any kind of a primary).
Clearly, however, that is not the case for most of these decisions on the part of most of the Democrats who voted for them not based on conviction, but based on polls and being gun shy about being targetted by the far right. Maybe they did vote for the war because they believed the faulty and slanted intelligence being shoved at them by the Bush administration. Fine. I believed the administration's assertion that there were probably WMD's back then too, although I thought they should have let Blix find out, and also exhaust all diplomatic options, before rushing to war. But once it became clear that it was a lie, it was time to stand up and call it a lie. I believe that if John Kerry had answered a firm, 'NO' to the question about whether he would have voted for the war resolution knowing what he knew then about the intelligence being false, he would be President today. Instead he answered a very tenuous 'yes,' then had to defend his answer, then changed it about three weeks later, confirming the concerns that people had about his firmness and commitment to take a stand, and is still the junior Senator from Massachusetts.
The heck if they are targetted by the far right! It's time to just stand up and yell that the emperor has no clothes. Everything the man touches turns to garbage (name me ONE policy success, foreign or domestic, that the Bush administration has achieved in five years), so if someone can't find the gumption to stand up and point that out, they shouldn't be nominated to run for a position where part of their duties ARE to speak out. Besides, if the far right can target a guy like Charlie Stenholm by calling him a liberal and win, then it is clear that they will apply that label to any Democrat anywhere, no matter what their voting record. So voting with them won't spare a Democrat. But maybe standing up and wearing the label with pride, will.
And if it doesn't, I was once given a bit of advice when facing a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' sort of choice: You are always better off being damned for what you do. I can further attest to the wisdom of that from personal experience.
That advice works in life as well as it does in politics.