Wednesday, July 04, 2007

On the birthday of the Republic, a brief thought on its health.

A year and a half ago, I had a few complaints about the Democrats' response to the Katrina debacle:

In the immediate wake of the disaster, when the huddled, starving crowds under highway overpasses were still vivid in everyone's memory, the politicians of our supposed opposition party were praising each other for their restraint in not raising the issue. The "appropriate" time had not come. Of course not. As long as the ruling party here sets the agenda all by itself, the appropriate time to discuss its mistakes will never come at all.

From that analysis, one might have hoped that when the Democrats gained a majority in both houses of Congress, then they'd start to kick up a fuss about the way things were going --- at least as much of a fuss, one might have hoped, as Republican Senators had under Clinton, on matters great (bombing Yugoslavia) and small (getting confused about whether a blow job was "sex" for purposes of a trumped-up lawsuit).

Yet this spring, when working on a military funding bill --- the most appropriate possible time to at least put a limit on the amount of blood that Dubya can spill fighting a war which it is obvious to the world that he has already lost --- the Democratic leadership declined to do so. They sent up a bill with mere advisory timetables, which Dubya could have overridden on his own whim via a finding that continued warfare was needed to "pursue extremists" --- and when Dubya vetoed even this toothless measure, they quietly folded and gave him exactly the no-strings funding which he asked for to begin with. Which leaves us where we were a year and a half ago:

Comes now, the domestic scene, and the wiretap scandal. It's not the worst thing Dubya has done. (It doesn't come close to having prisoners tortured into providing phony, false evidence to build the case for his shabby little war). But it's the one that most clearly demonstrates to any politician with eyes to see that this is an administration with no respect for any power other than its own. One that must be opposed if the American Senate, under this imperial president, is to have any more meaningful role in running the country than the Roman Senate under the emperors.

Then, the outrage of the day was the wiretap scandal, on which the most we've seen since is a few Democratic committee chairs sputtering as Dubya stonewalls without consequences. Now, it's the Libby reprieve --- a much more minor abuse of power, and hardly more blatant. The time for impeachment was some time ago, but these guys don't have the guts to insist on a spending cap. And I'm sitting in my living room, listening to my upstairs neighbor's off-key rendition of "All Along the Watchtower", and asking myself, what --- what lie, what scandal, what no-bid contract to cronies, what obstruction of justice, what imprisonment under torture without any pretence of justice, what ruined city, what futile war, what hitherto undreamed-of outrage will finally make them say, "Enough"? What on Earth are they waiting for?