May 10, 2004
Hard Sell Monday
Last week we started a new tradition of trying to give you one solid reason to throw $25 or so our way as an exceptional use of your resources every Monday - thereby alleviating ourselves of doing it the rest of the week. Today we have this from the Houston Chronicle, which puts much of today’s news in a proper context:
...One reason for Congress’ restrained watch over the war is that the legislative branch of government and the White House are controlled by the same party, said Joel D. Aberbach, a political scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles who has studied congressional oversight activities.
“Just look at how the Republicans acted against Clinton, and how the same set of people have acted towards Bush,” he said, referring to the official probes that led to the former president’s impeachment by the House.
Recently, congressional Republicans and Democrats have intensified their questioning of the administration’s calculations of the war’s costs, the number of troops required, the fierce level of Iraqi resistance and the faulty intelligence used as the reason to invade Iraq.
But they had not pressed too forcefully, as public support for winning the war was sustained. Last fall, Congress rejected an attempt by Democrats to attach more accountability requirements to $20 billion of the $87 billion in war and reconstruction funding requests.
“I don’t think the president has been very well served since the statue of Saddam was pulled down in the circle in Baghdad,” said Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., who called Bush’s advice from top civilian leaders, including Vice President Dick Cheney, “uniformly wrong.”
The White House also has hurt itself on Capitol Hill by limiting Bush’s contact with lawmakers, members said.
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a defense hawk who has a close working relationship with Rumsfeld, complained that the prisoner abuse issue was a symptom of a larger problem—that troops are perceived as overworked and lacking in proper training due to poor planning.
He wrote to Bush of his concerns in September, but it was not until last month that he received a reply, not from the White House, but from an assistant secretary of defense.
“That’s the way they treat Congress, with absolute arrogance. Pay no attention to the suggestions that are made by Congress,” he said.
Biden, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said some lawmakers are left in the dark.
“I don’t think Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld think very much of the Congress. Cheney (a former congressman) believes too many presidents have given up too much power,” Biden said. “These guys have gone overboard.”
As House leaders prepared at midweek a resolution supporting the troops, Republicans refused Democrats’ request to include language calling for a congressional investigation of the level of involvement by the military and private contractors.
DeLay called that an attempt by Democrats to inject politics into the resolution. Earlier, he said Democrats were undermining troop morale by questioning the course of the war and with their calls for Rumsfeld to resign.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who led the charge against Rumsfeld, said that “this House of Representatives has demonstrated it’s nothing more than a rubber stamp for the administration.”
The GOP Congress has not done its job, in fact it has hardly even tried. Help us take back the majority and put an end to this nonsense.