Friday, September 14, 2007

Heroism in Government

Somewhere there must be a more craven, spineless, and detestable job than member of the United States House of Representatives. If so, it occupies a rung so low illegal immigrants won’t do it. Only lawyers and MBAs need apply.

General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker made the rounds of the House and Senate this week to deliver their much anticipated “report” on the status of Iraq. There were few surprises, as they painted a picture optimistic enough to allow hawks to roll out the predictable “stay the course” rhetoric, while staying on the safe side of what can be said under oath.

My day job prevented me from listening during the day, so I caught as much as I could stand in the car after work. Fortunately, the drive took only about an hour. Fully half of the “questioners” I heard – regardless of which side of the aisle they occupied – failed to ask a question. Ass coverings in the form of speeches abounded. Democrats, sensitive to charges they do not sufficiently support the troops, praised Petraeus as though he was Eisenhower, Grant, and MacArthur reincarnated in one package. Republicans – who really don’t support the troops except with verbiage, but are impervious to criticism – lobbed him softballs all day. Petraeus’s contention that he had not vetted or coordinated his testimony would have been more convincing had he not answered several Republican questions before they were asked.

The Senate was better: less overt partisanship, more probing questions. It doesn’t matter; nothing will change, except the level of vitriol directed at Democrats by those who don’t think they’re moving fast enough. They’re not moving fast enough, but it’s not because they think the war is accomplishing anything. It’s because they’re Democrats, who live their lives afraid that anything they say, do, or think will offend someone, somewhere, even if that person was no more likely to vote Democratic than George Bush is to win the Nobel Peace prize.

Republicans, good for so long at framing any political discussion, have missed the boat one hundred eighty degrees. It’s not that the Democrats lack the courage to stay in Iraq. The Democrats lack the courage to leave.

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