Sunday, March 27, 2005

Iraq War: Will Congress ever do its job?

We've seen in the Terri Schiavo case that the Republican-dominated House and Senate can move quickly and decisively - albeit foolishly in that particular case - when there's an issue afoot that they really care about.

Things aren't working that way when it comes to Bush's grand adventure in Mesopotamia.  Historian James Carter asks in this article: Is Congress AWOL on Iraq? History News Network 03/07/05.

The short answer: yes.

Carter gives a good, brief summary of the Congressional investigations that took place in the 1960s into the conduct of the Vietnam War.  During the Johnson administration, these involved a Democratic Congress holding hearings that often embarrassed the Democratic President, because they considered the issue sufficiently important to override partisan considerations to a significant extent.

He also summarizes how today's Republican Congress is handling things:

The fact is that the committees of jurisdiction have so far refused to conduct proper investigations because they might shed some unfavorable light on the administration’s debacle in Iraq. While several congressional committees have conducted investigations into the much more politically useful oil-for-food program scandal, not a single hearing has been held to examine the mismanagement, corruption and allegations of outright fraud of its successor, the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), an entity the U.S. government has invested with billions of taxpayer dollars and also controls. Those involved charge the DFI has misappropriated many millions and there is little or no oversight or record keeping. The majority-controlled congressional committees have so far refused to conduct legitimate hearings that would give these matters the proper venue and the proper visibility.

These trends seem likely to continue. Bush administration officials are increasingly bold in their refusal to submit to the Congress. A few days following the above ad-hoc hearings, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld refused to give details, refused to answer questions and abruptly collected his papers and left hearings before the House Armed Service Committee.

Maybe if the Christian Right hears that abortions are becoming more frequent in Iraq, their friends in Congress will start to look at the conduct of the Iraq War more closely.


fdtate714 said...

Well, when they finish with Terri Schiavo and steroids in baseball they can deal with these minor matters...

bmiller224 said...

But, Duane, don't forget, there are other pressing matters to be dealt with.  They need to have extensive hearings about putting Ronald Reagan's face on a coin, for instance ... - Bruce

purcellneil said...

The GOP is a machine.  There is no longer any pretense of people voting their conscience, or in the best interests of their constituents, or even of patriotic duty (except when patriotism is defined as allegiance to the person of GW Bush).

Witness the appalling way Arlen Specter was neutered for comments about hard-core pro-life judicial nominees, or the manner in which Tom DeLay and Bill Frist got everyone to come back and vote on Schiavo (I bet a few members of Congress are wishing they had stayed home).

Meanwhile we are running up huge deficits even as the economy is growing.  The President tells us Social Security is in crisis, but he keeps spending the Trust Fund surplus just the same (and spends it to give tax breaks to the wealthy).  We are still engaged in the ruinous occupation of Iraq -- ruinous morally, diplomatically, financially and even strategically (in the war against Al Qaeda).

Bush and the other four morons get away with it, because the Congress is content to sit by and perform its role as cheerleaders for the White House.

Not all cheerleaders are so easy, but this Congress fits the worst cheerleader stereotype one can imagine.


fdtate714 said...

Speaking of Specter, I was more than a little amused to see this US News & World Report tidbit...

Seems their trying to makeover the image of Republican Orc Rick Santorum to make him more Specter-like to get him reelected.

bmiller224 said...

It is pretty appalling the way the GOP Congress so often marches in lockstep with Bush.  On the war, the contrast from the Johnson administration and the Vietnam War is a telling one: it was the President's own party who was heading up the criticism, but by no means exclusively.

The problem Bush is running into now is that the purpose of the Republican Party is to comfort the comfortable.  (It's heart and soul is fighting to ensure that the wealthiest Americans don't have to pay taxes to support their country.)  But phasing out Social Security threatens to cause a lot of discomfort for most people.  Having another war like the Iraq War would require a serious draft, also a notable source of discomfort even for affluent Republican families.  And the Schiavo brohaha has reminded people that the American Taliban, aka the Christian Right, really do intend to dictate to people how to conduct their most private personal and family business.

The authoritarian discipline has started to buckle on Social Security.  I hope that the same starts to happen on the war.  When we get news of subzero temperatures in Hades, that may mean that Congressional Republicans have reached their "tipping point" on the war. - Bruce

sanforized6 said...

The BIG GUY upstairs, and BIG BROTHER down here, have teamed up! Holy %^&$!! BUT, the GOP justs marches on. Aren't a lot of the Iraqi males GAY?? Maybe that will get some action from our "moralistic right"!! rich