Over the partisan buzz in Congress these days, the American people if they’re still listening at all, just want to hear real solutions for three major issues; the war, the economy and immigration – – can the rhetoric. While both parties play to voter angst, Republicans, by encouraging divisiveness and focusing on wedge issues, have skewed the debate…
As Tom DeLay left Congress his remarks in The House and at a press conference defined his ethos as he encouraged Republicans to take the partisan low road or the right road as he might say. He continued to create his own version of the truth, spinning away the obvious. To him, “Duke Cunningham is a hero…an honorable man of high integrity.” Oh dear, poor Duke must have been railroaded into prison, his tearful apology just the rant of an aging pol.
And in praise of partisanship DeLay said “you show me a nation without partisanship, and I’ll show you a tyranny.” Funny he should mention it since Republican control of Congress and the K-Street machine coupled with presidential “signing statements” that gut the intent of legislation have pretty much delivered tyrannical control into the hands of one party and a power-hungry administration. Consider that, in a recent signing statement, the president stymied congressional investigations into the billions of dollars missing in Iraq by directing that the Pentagon is off limits to investigators, raising suspicions that the administration has something to hide.
So what are Republicans up to these days? Well there was the anti-gay-marriage amendment proposal, soon to be followed by anti-flag-burning legislation. And this week, House Majority Leader Boehner plans to introduce a resolution supporting the war effort in Iraq. There’s that partisanship – – a proposal to put Democrats on the spot in more time-wasting showboating.
You know, if you have a meaningful agenda you don’t have to spin the daylights out of it. If you have good reasons for going to war you don’t need to manipulate intelligence; you only do that when the reasons for action are other than those enunciated. If you have worthy candidates you don’t have to steal elections by not counting all the votes, by suppressing voter turnout in areas that favor your opponent, or by establishing arcane measures for voter registration or limiting access, as was done in Ohio by Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell now running for Governor. And you shouldn’t have needed to send members of your staff pretending to be just regular folk to disrupt the Florida recount in 2000.
Now, as we take stock of our national condition, the real reasons for being in Iraq remain unclear – – whether or not WMD existed, it has been fairly well established there was no immediate threat to the U.S. Something else seems to have been at work, leaving unanswered the question: does a desire to bring down a murderous dictator we once called friend carry with it the inherent right to invade a sovereign nation, restructure its economy and undertake a prolonged occupation?
It was disappointing that former lobbyist Brian Bilbray-R recently won a special election for Duke Cunningham’s seat – – his opponent having overlooked, perhaps, the importance of illegal immigration to Californians, an issue upon which Bilbray focused. However there remain an abundance of Republican vulnerabilities. Zarqawi’s death is no guarantee of stability in Iraq and the Taliban threat is growing in Afghanistan. Then too there’s the administration’s habit of spending without increasing revenue streams, disturbingly mirrored in the general population: “The freezing of the minimum wage, the tightening of unemployment insurance … the shifting of the tax burden from the rich to the rest…have starved public services while leaving ordinary Americans more dependent than ever on debt.” Jackson Lewis, NY Times Magazine, 6/11/06.
The administration’s promise of a rose garden hasn’t materialized. Tax cuts aren’t really enough of an agenda for most people are they? And national security isn’t the slam-dunk Republican issue it once was either. Still Democrats will need to work overtime to capitalize on the majority’s intransigence and failed policies.

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