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What's Shakin' in the House

Democrats have no Iraq plan? Thank God.

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, November 15, 2006.

The shake out from the election is on-going, and the form of our government in January is becoming somewhat clearer. It’s not all that encouraging, and we have to attach expectations within predictable parameters.

The Republicans are still frosted with both the President - for his incompetence in so many areas but particularly for his handling of the Rumsfeld departure - and with Karl Rove, who assured them that success was only a matter of getting out their base to vote. Ironically, they succeeded, but nobody noticed that a significant portion of the base wasn’t going to vote again for a bunch of henna-haired corrupt globs of unrisen dough with far too many homosexual attributes themselves to be convincing in their puzzlingly chronic anti-gay tirades, and equipped with a seeming joy for slapping their third trophy wife or mistress in off moments. This, when not accepting tee times arranged by Jack Abramoff in prestigious South Pacific golf courses staffed by slave labor from Asia that also gave private massage.

The Republicans, now deprived of their self image as the Values Folks, reverted to form this morning and elected Trent Lott as Minority Whip in the Senate by one vote over Lamar Alexander, every bit as sharp and competent but less racist and who actually works compatibly with the Democrats. From a PR standpoint, this doesn’t bode well for the GOP, because if Lott’s fabled Mississippi home and porch are rebuilt before New Orleans has made significantly more progress, yet another of Bush’s promises will prove to have been a lie. It won’t look good for the GOP if the only promise Bush does keep - of all those he made after Katrina - is to sit on Trent Lott’s rebuilt porch with him and enjoy the expensively reconstructed view of the Mississippi Gulf shore, which includes a Governor who used to be Republican National Party Chairman.

Democratic Speaker of the House to be Nancy Pelosi got off to a puzzling start when she sided with John Murtha for Congressional Majority Leader, although another Congressman, Steny Hoyer, has more open support. Murtha is a decorated war veteran, but as the Abscam videos show - and his apparent legal but iffy trade outs of government contracts for campaign support - Murtha was a lesser but borderline Duke Cunningham. He is given every doubt’s benefit because of those medals and because he wants to bring the troops home.

But Pelosi has said she was going to drain the swamp and run the cleanest House ever. I want to believe her. We all do. And face it, you configure a Congress with the people you have, not the people you might want. But Murtha’s only current prominence is due to his coming out against the war, which at the time was a major blow against Bush and ensorcelled the anti-war, Cindy Sheehan, Daily Kos segment of the voting public. It’s one of the things I dislike about the Left: their refusal to see themselves just as narrow minded as the hated Christian Right. As the Christian Right used abortion as a candidate litmus test to dubious achievement, the left installed the Iraq war as their own. It’s quite stupid and dangerous to stop the war at any cost. As was predicted, we broke it, we own it.

Not only Presidents, but the rah-rah types that support them because they get lauded in speech and rewarded in position, need to admit that wars have consequences of which the majority cannot be predicted - ever. This is why a responsible Congress would retake war making power back from the executive, and absent direct attack, debate the issue before voting on it, so that both they and we understand the dangers and responsibility, and so neither can pretend otherwise if things go bad.

Now, consideration of the Iraq War needs to be cleanly bifurcated. We need to hold this administration responsible for the past and, separately, bring long term vision to decisions that need to be made now, while they are still ours to make, about how to conclude it.

New polls suggest that public doesn’t think the Democrats actually have a plan for Iraq. I hope that’s true. Any plan they have would be based on incomplete knowledge if not actual falsehood. The Bushies have lied constantly, and we probably have small clue as to what our options actually now are and won’t till the Congress commands.

And, for a change, we need to know before committing ourselves to any path. We’ve learned that much, I hope.