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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

You know what? Republicans are right, sometimes, and one of the things they are most right about is the fact that Democrats have no backbone. At least, Democratic politicians don't. First, they knuckled under and capitulated to George Bush's War of Choice; in a way, that was understandable-although not forgivable-as the majority of the sheep collectively known as the American public was clamoring for blood against what they had been disingenuously led to believe was the brains behind 9/11. Democrats bowed to the pressure of their constituencies although it's clear that most of them knew the foundation that was being laid was on quicksand.

Now? The president's approval rating stands at less than 30%; support for the war is nonexistent except amongst the right wing fringe. The president has vetoed one spending bill with a timeline for withdrawal that the majority of those polled felt he should have signed. The Democratic leadership then allowed that little fiasco to be framed by the White House in terms of "cutting off support for the troops" instead of the demand for accountability the public was now asking for. George Bush was again allowed to look resolute and strong-granted, in the face of a disaster, but the one thing this president is very good at is making it appear that he has some idea of how he wants things to go, the very personification of the old saying, "Do something-even if it's wrong!" The Democrats? Well, what the hell do they really want, anyway?

So today, instead of proving that they can actually stand for something, Democrats announced that Speaker Pelosi "will present a plan to House Democrats for a war funding bill that won't include a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq but will feature benchmarks with consequences." Consequences? That's the biggest joke of all, as the bill apparently grants Bush full authority to waive those consequences as he sees fit. So essentially, the Democratic leadership is giving King George the "blank check" they swore they wouldn't, to do whatever the hell he wants with no accountability whatsoever. Different Congress, same results. And still no end in sight for the utter disaster that is the Iraq war.

This is not about just Iraq, either. The Democrats also have yet to act with any authority or conviction on the issue of Alberto Gonzales and the politization of the Justice Department, despite the almost-daily revelations of the politically driven, ethically challenged and sometimes blatantly criminal activities that have taken place since 2001. Even the trepidous Washington Post declared James Comey's testimony on the recklessness of the Bush administration's conduct towards the NSA "an account of Bush administration lawlessness so shocking it would have been unbelievable coming from a less reputable source." And yet, Congress does-nothing. Bends over and takes it. There's more than ample evidence that this situation needs to be taken out of the president's hands and dealt with, and yet so far no one has made even a meek move towards impeachment, much less a daring one. It raises images of the Bush administration stalling on global warming because it needed "more study" while glaciers were boiling and penguins dropping dead in their tracks.

But my winner of the Gutless of the Week award goes to Jimmy Carter, a man I have long admired if not always agreed with. He wins for his weaselly comments on "Today," in which he said he wasn't calling the Bush administration "the worst in history," just worse than Nixon. For one, that doesn't even pass the straight face test-were you saying that Nixon was the worst in history prior to that, or that the tape was doctored? For another, Jimmy, no one was arguing with you. You were right the first time, but allowed yourself to be cowed because of the criticism that "good" presidents don't snipe at one another. That may have been true a decade ago, but the rules got totally revamped when this bunch came to town. Say what you mean, Jimmy, and mean what you say. Like when you wrote "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." That's all we ask.

Whoops. I forgot. You backed away from that strong stance, too...

But, back to Congress. It's infuriating. I'm not sure what these guys think they were elected to do, but clearly the American public is 'way ahead of them on this issue and on the Iraq War. I'm hoping there is some method to this madness, some grand "master plan" that will feveal itself in the next days or weeks, but as of now, I'm not too optimistic.

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