Thursday, December 20, 2007

Perhaps we need more education on how Congress works

The Democratic leadership is now facing complaints from their base for having folded to the White House and Republicans on the budget and funding for the war in Iraq.
"The leaders of the House are chosen every two years, they will have to live with those results when they are up for re-election," said Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, an outspoken war critic making a long-shot run for the 2008 Democratic nomination for president.

"Quit saying that you don't have the votes," he said of the leaders' excuses for always losing the war debate. "It's clear that they don't have any intention of ending the war."

Despite the blistering critiques, Congress' rank-and-file Democrats remain committed to their chosen leaders.

They blame Republicans in the narrowly divided Senate for blocking the majority's agenda, especially on the war issue.

"It's not the leadership," said Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat and co-founder of the Out of Iraq Caucus. "It's the Republicans. It's the right-wingers who like war."

Mrs. Pelosi, who also faulted Senate Republicans for frustrating her plans, bristled at the charge that she folded in showdowns with Mr. Bush.

"We didn't fold," she said, adding that Congress is about negotiating and they set high goals to start from a strong bargaining position.
I hope that Dennis Kucinich and Maxine Waters know better. They've both been around long enough to know how Congress works and that the majority can't push through whatever they want especially when there is divided government. It was always extremely doubtful that policy was going to be directed out of the House of Representatives. The Senate allows for the minority to stall and block legislation as long as they can stick together. Given that the Democrats had been adept at utilizing those rules when the Republicans were in the majority was there any real reason to think that Republicans wouldn't return the favor?

Too many people have bought into the fantasy of "I'm just a bill on Capitol Hill" and don't understand all the procedural blocks that can stall out legislation. When I teach the legislative process in my AP Government we have a day when we list all the "Kill Bill" moments in the process. If more students were taught about how the process really works, perhaps these activists wouldn't be so disappointed when the majority party can't get their desired legislation through.

And let's just pause a moment for contempt for the new liberal meme that Maxine Waters expresses - that right-wingers "like war." Nancy Pelosi has been floating the same attack.
"The grassroots are justifiably disappointed and I am too that we could not do something to end this war," Pelosi said at a press conference today. "The assumption that I made that the Republicans would soon see the light and listen to their constituents was not an accurate one."

She continued: "They like this war. They want this war to continue. We thought that they shared the view of so many people in our country that we need a new direction in Iraq. To affect that we need redeployment of our troops with a goal of a year to do that. But the Republicans have made it very clear that this is just not George Bush's war, this is the war of the Republicans in Congress."

Asked to clarify her use of the word "like," Pelosi backed off her statement of moments before.

"When I say 'like,' I shouldn't say they 'like' the war. They support the war, the course of action that the president is on and they are not questioning in terms of his implementation of the war, the execution of the war."
Perhaps the extremists out on the left wing believe that Republicans "like war" but that's demagoguery of the worst sort. If she truly believes that then she has betrayed why she herself is unfit to lead dure to her blindness as to her opponents' motivation. She may mouth platitutdes about trying to get along with Republicans, but we haven't seen any evidence so far. We don't need to rehearse all the arguments here about why withdrawl and defeat in Iraq would be disastrous for America for years to come. Support for David Petraeus's plan had nothing to do with "liking" war, but from hating defeat.