Getting Republicans to Jump Ship

After a humiliating retreat on Iraq funding and with abysmal approval ratings, Congressional Democrats go back to work for a war of attrition with the White House this summer. Whatever else they do, Democrats should press Sen. Byrd’s effort to overturn the 2002 resolution that sanctioned the invasion of Iraq–for more reasons than one. Strategically, if they are successful, the struggle will migrate to the Supreme Court for a decision on Congessional war powers vis-à-vis the Executive Branch. Tactically, it will poise them to take control of both branches next year. How can they enlist enough Republican votes for the two-thirds majority to do that? Framing the question is crucial: Knowing what we now do about what it may take … Continue reading

“De-Authorize the War”

Not the most elegant way to put it, but the first statement Bill Richardson made on his hour-long “Meet the Press” interview this morning reiterates what he has been saying for some time now: Stop diddling with the funding for our disaster in Iraq and take steps toward rescinding Congressional authorization of it. Now if the other Democratic Presidential candidates will join him (Clinton and Obama already have), maybe Reid and Pelosi will take time out from their high-wire appropriations acts and get the real show on the road.

Bush’s Tales Out of School

This President leaves no cliché behind. Yesterday he revived the one about the kid who kills his parents and asks for sympathy because he’s an orphan. At one of the few commencement venues that can’t turn him down, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the Commander-in-Chief inspired graduates by declassifying intelligence to show that in 2005 Osama bin Laden was setting up units in Iraq to plan terrorist attacks here. Scary, Mr. President, but do you think that these young people–or anyone else for that matter–won’t be able to figure out that, if we hadn’t invaded Iraq into chaos two years earlier, that Saddam Hussein, who loathed bin Laden, would never have allowed that gang into his territory? Now tell us … Continue reading

All-Thumbs White House

As soon as Democrats took over Congress, it became clear that, as political as this Administration has been, Bush, Cheney and Rove have no aptitude for the process. For six years, with a rubber-stamp Republican Congress, there was no need for the give-and-take, negotiating, compromises and tradeoffs normally involved in governing. Now, every day brings new evidence that these people just don’t know how to do it. Start with the twisting in the wind of Alberto Gonzales. As the Attorney General tightens his own noose in today’s Senate hearings, Bush says he is “pleased” with the performance. When the AG finally goes, the President will be as politically damaged as he was by his lies to the media before Rumsfeld’s … Continue reading

Grimm Brothers: Thompson and Gonzales

If you like fairy tales, just look at the morning papers. Two Republicans, Fred Thompson and Arturo Gonzales, are updating the Grimm Brothers. Uncle Fred is recycling the old one from the master storyteller of your parents’ time, Ronald Reagan, about the magic tax cuts, the trickle-down and the beanstalk that grows to the sky. The tooth fairy is back in Uncle Arturo’s tale of how, while we are all tucked safely in bed, he and his elves who never sleep have been watching over us unselfishly day and night. Now, children, just close your eyes until November 2008, and it will be Morning in America again with porridge for everybody.

Time for Older, Wiser Heads

The schoolyard fight over war funding has gone on long enough. It’s time for the sound-biting between the White House and Congress to stop. In the last two days, older, wiser voices are beginning to be heard. Yesterday Sen. Carl Levin, 72, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said “We are not going to cut off the funding, period,” but added that Democrats will continue to press the President to “pressure Iraqi leaders to negotiate a settlement.” In today’s Washington Post, the dean of political columnists, David Broder, 76, writes “In the continuing battle…logic is on the Democrats’ side, but the crucial political leverage belongs to the president. It behooves the realists in both camps to recognize what the troops … Continue reading

“What, Me Worry?”

On their way to Easter vacation, George Bush and Karl Rove are doing a little evading of the law just to keep their hands in. Unable to get Senate approval, the White House has used a recess appointment to make Sam Fox the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium. Mr. Fox’s qualification as a diplomat is based on his $50,000 contribution to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which produced ads smearing John Kerry’s war record in 2004. Meanwhile, a new poll shows that the Anxiety Indicator of Americans is moving closer to a level signalling “a full-blown crisis of public confidence.” What could possibly be causing so much worry?

Words to Debate Iraq By

This morning evokes thoughts of our 34th President, Dwight David Eisenhower. He died on this day, March 28, 1969, thirty-eight years ago. Not much of an anniversary, but in this time of Bush, Cheney, Rove and Gonzales, the man everybody called Ike is more and more a reminder of a lost American decency. I met the general-turned-politician one night in 1964 when he invited half a dozen editors to dinner in Gettysburg, Pa. He had had a bad day, taking phone calls from friends about whether or not he should speak out against the nomination of Barry Goldwater for President. Besieged with advice, Eisenhower asked wistfully, “Why is the will of God known to so many people but not to … Continue reading