Thursday, April 03, 2008

Hey, maybe you haven't been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal!

One of my favorite lines the last couple of months as the issue of gender has entered the presidential primary is to say we'd have a woman as president right now if congress did their damn jobs. I firmly believe this to be true. If congress was following their own constitutionally mandated role of oversight of the Executive Branch then I have no doubt that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would currently be working in the Oval Office.

The immediate reaction of realists when they consider that statement is to dismiss it outright. Simple math makes the idea that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney could be impeached and removed from office absurd. In the first place- the numbers aren't there for a conviction in the Senate. The whole thing would be an exercise in futility from the start.

It seems to me that this unfortunate reaction to my oft-repeated quip that if congress was doing their job Pelosi would be the president is based on the idea that I am attacking our Democratic leadership in congress in making that statement. In fact - I'm only partly attacking our Democratic leadership. I'm also attacking every other warm body in a suit on capitol hill, Democrats and Republicans, who refuse to accept their constitutionally mandated role in our federal government. Those that put the needs of their party or, more often, their own political careers ahead of the need of their country.

It also seems to me that the assertion of powerlessness of congressional Democrats in the face of a slim majority in the Senate as an excuse (and let's be honest an excuse is exactly what it is) towards inaction is also a tacit admission of the of the real problem facing us. Think about the above calculation on conviction and see if you can determine anything other than our leaders will not push for impeachment because, regardless of evidence, facts or public sentiment, Senate Republicans (and Lieberman) will vote in a block against conviction. Recognition of this reality may be rational, but acceptance of it is as a simple fact of life is beyond absurd.

This collective acquiescence to the true partisans in our government is what drives progressives like myself absolutely nuts. For over thirty years now we've watched as Democrats have continued to meet vicious attacks from Republicans by effectively rolling over and tucking their tail between their legs. We've watched as our constitution was subverted through Iran Contra or abused as it was through the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton. Probably the worst thing we've had to endure is to watch that constitution be simply ignored as this President used a horrible tragedy as an excuse to consolidate power in the Executive not granted to it under our constitutional framework. Again and again our elected representatives in congress refused to acknowledge what they're we're up against.

I would ask the realists to consider this mathematical formulation: 61-39. That is the absolute minimum margin the next Democratic president will have to have in the Senate in order to get anything done. It doesn't matter if it's president Clinton II or Obama. NOTHING of any consequence will make it through the Senate without a Democratic majority of at least 61 Senators. Not health care reform. Not tax reform. Certainly not any progressive Supreme Court Judges. Republican Senators will block it all. They'll do it because they can.

God forbid the Democrats don't lose the House and/ or Senate while a Democratic president is in office, because that day in January that they swear that new congress in will be the day impeachment proceedings begin against that man or woman. They'll do it because they can.

Because they can. Because Democrats don't fight. Because Democrats continue to try and get along with these people or meet them half-way when all they'd rather do to the Democrats in return is put 'em in a bus and drive 'em off a cliff.

I understand the question of what impeachment would accomplish (and it it's really a moot question this late in Bush's term.) My honest answer is that I just don't know.

But I also know what NOT impeaching Bush has gotten us. Not to mention NOT forcing Senators to filibuster or NOT using the congressional powers of Inherent Contempt to really bring the hammer down on John Bolton and Harriet Meiers and a whole list of powers inherent to, but unused by, congressional Democrats which are too numerous to list here. It hasn't led to victory, legislative success or even compromise. It's led to one big GOP middle-finger in our direction.

If we're truly serious about the kind of country we want this to be then we need to bend that finger back until in breaks.

15 comments:

Spirula said...

from the same character in the same movie:

"Well why don't you just put her in charge?!"

Dean Wormer said...

That would've been a better quote. Darn.

Spirula said...

Your quote is more discriptive of the situation though, so I like it better.

Don Snabulus said...

Silence is complicity. The Democrats are tacitly agreeing to Bush/Cheney doctrine by not doing these things you mention.

When historians look back, the conclusion they will draw is that a large number of Democrats agreed to capitulate and therefore were, in a sense, conspirators in destroying Iraq, torture, ignoring the Constitution, economic failure, and all the other albatrosses we have hanging around our necks.

Meanwhile, I don't mean this in a knee-jerk way, but the Republicans are just batshit crazy right now. Trying to paint lipstick on Iraq and our failing middle class is no way to go through life.

Until at least a third of them start looking at the world more like Chuck Hagel, I don't know that any majority of Democrats is going to be enough.

A country can't last long with half of its citizens refusing to address our actual problems head on.

Don Snabulus said...

With that said, I would be thrilled to see your approach taken with the GOP until they either change into something more useful or wither from lack of support.

Randal Graves said...

And to add to the bleak, that 61-39 will only work if those 61 actually vote as a bloc and aren't wishy-washy Dems, but I repeat myself.

I do like the bending the finger back until it breaks approach.

Dean Wormer said...

don-

I agree 100% The democrats ARE complicit in this stuff. Morally by extension those that vote for Democrats who vote for this stuff are also complicit.

Meanwhile, I don't mean this in a knee-jerk way, but the Republicans are just batshit crazy right now. Trying to paint lipstick on Iraq and our failing middle class is no way to go through life.

Nice Wormer quote. :)

This is really at the heart of what drove my post. So many democrats are looking at the batshit crazy Republicans and telling their consituents "sorry, they're crazy that's why we can't get anything done." Somehow we're suppossed to accept that and move on.

I've said this many times but the leaders of the democratic make a huge mistake anytime they assume that the people that loosely make up the base of the party are just as stupid and cravenly political as the people that make up the base of the other side.

With that said, I would be thrilled to see your approach taken with the GOP until they either change into something more useful or wither from lack of support.

It would be great but I honestly have no idea if fighting would work. It's just that non-fighting clearly doesn't.

And to add to the bleak, that 61-39 will only work if those 61 actually vote as a bloc and aren't wishy-washy Dems, but I repeat myself.

Yeah, I think the actual numbers are even worse and probably next to impossible to meet because of blue-dog dems and senators like Nelson, Schumer or Feinstein who often vote against the party when it gets down and dirty.

Dean Wormer said...

Sorry - that last response was to randal.

Swinebread said...

I just don't understand what the dems are afraid of. Why do they keep going along with this shit? Are they so worried that they'll lose power if don't fight the good fight?

News to dems: by being a bunch of wimps you have no power now anyway!

Dean Wormer said...

Swine,

I think that's part of it. Also- they forgot why they got involved in politics in the first place.

But wimpiness seems to be the biggest deciding factor.

FranIAm said...

Things are horribly pathetic. All the more so when I listened to this earlier today and found myself agreeing with a Republican.

I mean the title of the book that he was promoting is ""Against the Tide: How a Compliant Congress Empowered a Reckless President"

Dean Wormer said...

fran-

I like Chafee but he's also part of the problem because in my opinion he rolled more than he should have. Still- I'd like to read his book.

Wyldth1ng said...

It is possible that Nancy has her eyes on it along. If the pres dies and the VP dies then the speacker of the house becomes pres.

Dr. Zaius said...

Forgive me for saying so, but I disagree. Given the bad math, I feel that the 110th congress has actually done quite well.

Dean Wormer said...

wyld-

Yep. Are you saying she won't start impeachment because it would be unseemly?

Zaius-

Some day I or somebody else will be able to hit you with the "Shrill Ray." Then you'll change your tune.