Friday, January 5, 2007

The new Congress

Here are three worthwhile pieces on the new Democratic-led Congress.

Joe Conason thinks the Dems have No reason to make nice Salon 01/05/07, at least not immediately:

Naturally, the vanquished bullies are afraid that they will soon suffer the same indignities they inflicted on the Democratic minority with such relish and zeal. They fear that the Democrats will shut them up on the House floor, ignore them in scheduling and administering the business of the House, and manipulate the rules to render them politically impotent. They worry, in short, that they will get what has been coming to them for a long time. ...

If the Republicans play a constructive role as the new Congress opens, then Pelosi ought to reward them by treating them as the partners they claim to be. In principle, she should live up to the ideals of fairness that she articulated as the leader of the minority. But if the Republicans choose to obstruct, then she must be tough - just as tough as the Republicans were when they sought to pass the "Contract With America" in 1995.

In The party's over Salon 01/05/07, Joan Walsh gives a good description of the political opportunities and risks of the Democrats' position toward the Iraq War, strongly urging them to take action behind an alternative plan. She's right. Not that most of the details of alternative plans to Cheney's and Bush's matter, except that whether a politician is insisting on a pullout of American troops by a date certain is a good indicator of how serious they are about fighting Cheney and Bush over the war. There are a couple of odd phrases in the article. She feels impelled to include the needless dove-alibi comment, "Precipitous withdrawal isn't an option". But an orderly withdrawal on a six-month timetable would be entirely reasonable. And "precipitous" withdrawal, as in fighting the Army their way out, definitely is an option if the Shi'a government in Iraq and the Shi'a militias (two overlapping groups) turn on the Americans and cut the supply routes in southern Iraq.

Finally, I've seen a couple of my favorite bloggers fretting over the Cindy Sheehan/Code Pink antiwar protest at the Democratic press conference on Wednesday featuring Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer. Personally, that kind of protest doesn't bother me. I haven't seen news footage, but it sounds like Emanuel and Hoyer handled it poorly. They shut down the press conference instead of taking the cue to say, "Yes, we're definitely going to act on the voters' leading mandate from November to get the US out of the Iraq War." Why? Apparently because they didn't intend to mention the Iraq War. Their "prefabricated points ... conspicuously avoid any mention of ending the war." (Alec Dubro, Ambush At Democrat Pass 01/03/07)

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