Sunday, January 07, 2007

The coming clash over Iraq in Washington

The bi-partisan honeymoon in Washington DC appears to be over almost before it's begun.

As President Bush drafts a new strategy and begins moving people around to implement it, the Democratic leadership in Congress has reacted with fury to any notion of a `troop surge' in Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to President Bush that would normally be astonishing in a wartime context, but seems perfectly in character now.

In it, they state frankly that they believe the midterm election results show that the American people want a `phased retreat redeployment', that `surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed' and that, in so many words, they will attempt to stop any increase in our forces in Iraq by whatever means necessary.

Background noise to this is another type of `surging'....the clamor of the netroots and the Angry Left, as evidenced by Cindy Sheehan and her friends literally shouting down the Democrats last week in full view of the media. The chant they used - `de-escalate, investigate, troops out now' - shows exactly what the agenda of a substantial part of the Left is. And it's something the House and Senate Democrats are going to have to take into account, whether they want to or not.

That some of them are already doing it is evident in the flurry of preparations for hearings and investigations into the Bush Administration's handling of the Iraq War and just about any other issue that comes to hand. The Democrats who now control both the House and Senate committees are armed with subpoena power and ready to proceed with a plethora of hearings.

Over the next few weeks, Senate Democrats plan to hold at least 11 hearings just on Iraq. Beginning this week, when Bush is expected to address the nation on his new war strategy, three Senate and at least two House committees plan to call in Cabinet members to testify on Iraq.

"We will use these hearings to ask tough questions, demand real solutions and keep working to bring this war to a close," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Saturday in his party's weekly radio address. And, of course, keep fomenting anti-Bush sentiment in the Dinosaur Media and please the Angry Left part of the Democratic constituency.

The Senate Democrats are also mulling over legislation that would require President Bush to come to Congress for any troop increases, according to none other than Dick Durbin, now the No. 2 Democratic leader in the Senate. "We are not at a point at this moment where I can say we have a specific strategy, but we have several options.. it could be legislation that requires the president to come for congressional approval for troops over a certain level," Durbin said.

I can't help but wonder what the Supreme Court would do in the face of this blatant Contitutional challenge to clearly defined executive powers.

If necessary, the most blatant option the Democrats have for ending the war on their terms is one they have had since Day One and have failed to exercise - the power to cut off funding. Or, to quote none other than Congressman Dennis Kucinich "You cannot say you oppose the war and continue to fund it."

Kucinich, whatever else one might think of him, deserves credit for being honest enough to admit that you can't have it both ways.

Aside from Iraq, Democratic committee chairmen are planning their own policy oversight sessions with the idea of making things hellish for the remaining two years the Bush Administation has left.

"We need to be the watchdog," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Waxman says he has his eyes on "waste, fraud and abuse." And has mentioned investigating federal contracts in Iraq and in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

Sen. Patrick Leahy(D-VT) now chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he will examine in detail the administration's policies on torture and what he calls `other human rights issues'. He's already at war with the Justice Department over his request for two secret documents that describe CIA detention and interrogation policies for suspected terrorists..documents the Justice Department has so far refused to provide.

Leahy has already threatened Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that he "would pursue this matter further" when the committee holds its first oversight hearing.

One also has to wonder what the new head of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers (d-MI), a long term foe of the President, is cooking up. I doubt it's pretty.

For its part, the Bush Administration is seeking a new, nore aggressive White House Council to replace the departing Harriet Miers - and presumably deal with what might end up as open war between the President and the new Democratic majority congress.


Anonymous said...

You can think what you want about the democrats, but I think this midterm election was a referendum on the Iraq War. Now the democrats are doing what people who voted them want them to do...which is something, anything but stay the course.

Freedom Fighter said...

Oh, I totaLly agree Nazar..with this caveat ( which I think you mean anyway).

The American people are interested in ViCTORY, not some silly defensive war. As I've said before, Bush was given a mandate to do this in `04 and failed.

Leadership is the problem.and the President had better figure out a way of convincing us he's learned something and has changed his ways.

They want to see results.


Rosey said...

I agree with Kucinch, but the Dems won't withold funding, because they don't want to appear anti-military and weak on defense. So they will rely on bluster, supoenas and idiotic time-wasting half measures.