Congress has now been under ‘new’ leadership for about seven months and it’s not a pretty picture to say the least. But then, one should not look for pretty pictures when it comes to politics in this country. Whether it is responding to their constituents or following their true beliefs, the Democrats are focusing on ending the war in Iraq and so, it did not come as a surprise that two weeks ago, the United States Senate was once again concentrating on passing a so called Levin/Reed amendment to commence troop withdrawal from Iraq within 120 days and completing it by April 30, 2008. Levin and Reed are Democrat Senators from Michigan and Rhode Island respectively. This amendment also allowed for some as yet undetermined number of troops to remain there in Iraq, further clouding its true meaning (Political Posturing at its best).
And so, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, scheduled lengthy debates on this amendment and even called for an ‘all-night-long’ debate to show somebody, it was not clear who that somebody was, that they were serious about ending the war in Iraq. Mr. Reid had stated several months ago that “the war in Iraq was lost” and should therefore be officially ended by starting a troop withdrawal. What followed was a gut-wrenching two-day event where it was truly embarrassing to see Senators bring out the most ridiculous arguments in favor of this amendment. When everything was said and done, the amendment failed on a procedural (cloture) vote to end debate that requires 60 votes in the affirmative. The final tally was 52 in favor and 47 votes against ending debate. The Democrats blamed the Republican for the failure of passage of the amendment and the Republicans responded in kind by reminding the Democrats that they should wait until September for the report from the General. The amendment and other Iraq war related issues were taken off the Senate calendar.
Let us review recent events in this matter: The Democrats have criticized the conduct of the war for several years now and called for a new strategy and possible new leadership. President Bush submitted a new strategy and another General for this task. General David Petraeus had served in different assignment prior in Iraq and been successful. He has been praised across party lines for being the right man for this job. The U.S. Senate confirmed him by a vote of 86 to 0 in February of this year and he was sent to Iraq with words of encouragement like ‘God speed, General’ by both, Democrats and Republicans. The accompanying new strategy involved a troop increase of about twenty five thousand soldiers. The Senate debated this issue for several months and approved the extra costs in May of this year. The approval was tied to achieving certain milestones, both, militarily and also politically by the Iraqi government. By June 15, the full implementation of the troop build-up was accomplished. Part of the agreement was that General Petraeus would return to Washington by mid-September by report back to the President and Congress about the progress on the new strategy, this allowed for a four months interval from May until September. For a major task like this, this is a very short period of time.
Instead of waiting for this September report, the Democrat Senators could NOT abide by their own agreements and decided instead to pass amendments to accelerate the timetable. This is where common sense disappears: How can you send (as the U.S. Senate did) a General to fight a war and give him a deadline for a report and then reverse yourself and cut the time period in half? Do the actions and commitments by the members of the Senate mean anything? Apply this change of agreed terms to anything else in life and you would get laughed at. Try signing a contract with a contractor to build a new house in six months and then tell him a month later that you want it done in three months. What do you think the contractor would say to you? He would think you are crazy and either talk you out of it and hold you to your contract or he would walk away from the job. Is this not what the Democrats in the Senate are trying to do?
We really don’t quite know what to call these Senators. Is their action not guaranteeing defeat in the war in Iraq? Is this not undermining the tremendous assignment they, the Senators, unanimously gave General Petraeus? Well, of course it is and one has to really wonder what is behind this turnabout by the Democrats in the Senate. What makes them do this? Issues of this magnitude should not be decided by constituent’s and poll numbers! We can only say thanks that these Senators were NOT in charge during World War II. They would have probably told General Eisenhower to call off the battle of the bulge after two weeks when things were not going well and the number of casualties mounted. It is perfectly conceivable that they would have told the troops landing and fighting on the Normandy beaches in France in June 1944: “Turn around and swim back to England, it is just too hard what you are trying to do!”
But thankfully, the current crop of armchair generals in the Senate was not in charge back then! Who knows what the world would look like today? One really has to wonder why they are in charge now. This blatant reversal by the Senators can only be called political posturing in that they think they can do anything they want at any time, never mind previous agreements and so on! There seems to be no accountability when it comes to the actions of the members of Congress.
We here at ‘Back to Common Sense’ yearn for the days when men would talk straight and would tell it like it is, and then do as they agreed. But our current acceptance of ‘political correctness’ is unfortunately not based on using one’s common sense. Otherwise, we could envision General Petraeus coming back in September and giving the members of Congress an earful, both in the Senate and in the House. Instead of mincing words, Petraeus could tell them that when they confirmed him, he took on the task of winning the war in Iraq and that they should stop micromanaging his job and altering the terms of his assignment. He, Petraeus should remind them that he reports to the Commander-in-Chief, President George W. Bush and will not be swayed by comments or criticism by 535 elected officials in Congress. In other words: Butt out!
We know this will not happen but some of us would yearn for something like this to take place. And since it will not happen, we can only imagine what in other times General George Patton would have told these people in Congress. He could have probably even told them to go to hell! By the way, World War II was the last war the United States was involved in that resulted in the total surrender of the enemy, Germany and Japan. But times have changed and we have just have to live with this incredible ineptitude in Congress.
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