05/11/2006 02:46 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

If Not Now, "We Ought to Fold Up Our Tents"

Democrats were wrong and not strong in not immediately challenging General Hayden's nomination to head the C.I.A. on the grounds that he was one of the main architects of the illegal wiretapping of American citizens. Democrats were wrong and not strong to swallow whole the GOP talking point that most Americans supported illegal wiretapping when poll after poll showed the nation equally divided.

Today Senator Leahy bravely said, "Shame on us for being so far behind and being so willing to rubber stamp anything this administration does. We ought to fold our tents.'' He also said, "Where does it stop?"

It stops when the opposition opposes. It stops when Democrats defend American citizens against an administration so dangerously incompetent that it can find no other way to go after the terrorists who are trying to destroy our liberties than by destroying those same liberties themselves.

I am heartened by Senator Leahy joining Senator Feingold in urging his fellow Democrats to leap out of their foxholes and fight. Unfortunately, another hero of mine, Senator Obama, recently echoed the more prevailing Democratic conventional wisdom when he said that a rule of thumb in Washington is that when your opponent is failing you should do nothing, just simply get out of their way.

Senator Obama, this time, is wrong. If Democrats were coming from a position even approaching parity with the Republicans than yes, I would agree with him. And if the President were even moderately popular, than again yes it might be more prudent (though less noble) to watch the administration freefall without saying a word.

However this case is more important than politics. We are ruled by a dangerously incompetent regime willing to trample every right that hundreds of thousands of Americans have bled defending. A regime dangerously incompetent enough to concoct one war for their own ends when they were deliriously popular, and now dangerously incompetent and desperate enough to start another when their popularity has drained.

In describing the Bush administration "Orwellian" is a euphemism.