Monday, March 05, 2007

Cowardly Congress

Huffington Post
Steve Rosenbaum
Cowardly Congress

In the past few days - the media has been reporting with some amazement that the public has a high interest in this upcoming presidential election. Why do you think that is?

Well, the last time I checked - 2006 was as clear a mandate as the Democrats could ever hope to receive. The American public has made its voice clear both in the election booth and at the polls. They want us out of Iraq - NOW. They want to change course on foreign affairs - immediately. They do not accept the fact that the Bush administration created what we now know (and frankly knew then) was a fictitious argument to launch an unprovoked war on Iraq.

While Congress may not be able to see the forest for the trees, voters can. We are able to remember Colin Powell standing in front of the UN with 'evidence'. We remember "mission accomplished." We understand that Scooter Libby was doing the administrations bidding when he 'outed' an undercover CIA agent. We remember that the Bush administration created a program of secretly wire-taps on law abiding American's. We remember that his troops conducted atrocities at Abu Ghraib, and then had the good graces to photograph those abominations and shared the pictures with the world. The list goes on - from the rape and torture of the civilians we were supposedly 'liberating' to the extraordinary hubris to force John Bolton on the UN.

We remember.

But it seems that Congress does not. Perhaps they should read the newspaper. Todays paper would be a good place to start. The cover of the New York Times reports that Federal Prosecutors who weren't willing to do the Administration bidding have been finding themselves unemployed. This would be shocking - if the phrase 'Great Job Brownie" weren't already part of the vernacular. Or we didn't remember Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court.

We remember.

Nicolai Ouroussoff's piece on Defensive Architecture reminds us that the impact that the Bush Administration has had won't be erased once they've been evicted from The White House. Already the effect has been indelibly etched in the streets and the structures of our cities. Ouroussoff's reports on nifty ways that architects are hiding bomb barriers and concrete reinforcements - ending by saying; "Our streets may be prettier, but the prettiness is camouflage for the budding reality of a society ruled by fear."

Society ruled by fear. Wow.

So, if the Democratic congress, or the Democratic Senate read todays paper, maybe they'll figure out what we've been trying to tell them.

We remember, and we don't like the direction the Country is going in. And we voted for them so that they would be leaders - and with our clear mandate... act.

Now to be fair, we understand that this is complex. We know that getting our troops out of Iraq won't solve the broader and more complex issues facing us in the world. But it would be a start. And while the House has practically broken it's institutional arm patting itself on the back for the non-binding resolution - the reality is that American's are expecting more than lame proclamations from the Hill. Simply running the clock until the Bush's are evicted doesn't count as leadership - and expecting the next President to be able to do what the House and Senate can't isn't realistic or likely. Political will needs to be exercised, rather than simply pantomimed. Watching Hillary Clinton embroider complex stories in order to avoid being tagged a 'flip flopper' is painful and heartbreaking. She was wrong to vote for the war. She knew it then, but with a Senate race ahead of her she did what many Democrats did - she supported the President. But that was then. But even then, Bush's motives were transparent. With the wind of 9/11 at his back, he took every opportunity to create an imperial Presidency and shift the power of the Military, The Courts, and the Executive Branch into a monolithic power machine. Anyone who challenged him or his neo-con henchmen were dealt with swifty and with the full force of the White House. She had reason to fear reprisals - and acknowledging that her vote was a mistake would hardly be seen as change in position.

We remember.

Which brings me to the endless banging drum that ending funding of Iraq would be equal to not supporting our troops. This perhaps the most disturbing hogwash that has been delivered via the media time and time again. It simply makes no sense. It's hardly like cutting off your kids credit card mid-way into a cross country car trip. If congress ends it's cowardly ways, and acts with the mandate and mission that the electorate provided it - it will set a date by which funding will end for troops in Iraq. That date won't be tomorrow, or the day after. There will be plenty of money for return airfare for each and every service man and woman. We won't leave them stranded in a war zone without a return ticket. But Congress CAN act, can set a date at which funding will end, and military leadership can begin to deploy funds that remain to plan for an orderly transition.

The idea that an endless stream of dollars 'supports' our troops is nonsense.

And if the Democrats in Congress think that American voters will reward them by putting a Democrat in the White House after two years of inaction and empty non-binding resolutions, they're about to face a very angry electorate.

It's time for Congress to earn our trust, and act.

We remember.