by Jules Crittenden, Special to PJM Congress has decided to make itself useful. Congress has started talking. Congress doesn't intend to stop talking for three days. All 435 members. Let's listen in:
February 13, 2007 - 11:55 pm
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “The American people have lost faith in President Bush’s course of action in Iraq and they are demanding a new direction … I’m thinking, ‘Out!’ ”
Rep. John Hall, D-NY: “As a new member of the House I feel it is my responsibility to ask serious questions of the president, who refuses to take this institution seriously. Three days of yada yada and a non-binding resolution will show him we’re not to be trifled with!”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: “This debate is about making sure our country is successful in the war on terror. I suggest … quitting!”
Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash: “The American people are watching our debate. They will judge us by our actions. … Doing nothing seems safe!”
OK, that’s not exactly what they said. I’m sorry, it was necessary to take some liberties to help them say what they wanted to say.
On Friday, Congress will vote on the following non-binding resolution. This is really what it says:
(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and
(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on Jan. 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.
It’s a curious document. Support the troops, protect them, but disapprove of what they are doing … honorably. A sort of Escher resolution, inscribed on embossed Moebius stock. If it represented real, binding action, it would be entirely self-negating. In far Waziristan, where until a few short years ago Congress was a thing unheard of, even al-Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri is disgusted with these dithering do-nothings. They started out with such promise!
“The people chose you due to your opposition to Bush’s policy in Iraq, but it appears that you are marching with him to the same abyss,” al-Zawahiri admonishes in his latest tape. “The bills to cut funding and start immediate withdrawals from Iraq just aren’t moving fast enough. All this blah blah blah! This yada yada yada!”
OK, he didn’t say the second part. But even a cave-dwelling terrorist 10,000 miles away can see that the Democrats are skittish about taking real action. When you take action, things happen, there are consequences.
For example: George Bush announced he was going after the insurgents and the militias in Iraq. Because he has a history of doing what he said he will, just saying that made some of them scurry. Things are happening.
Moqtada al-Sadr cast his own vote on the surge issue. With his feet. He bolted for Teheran with the wife and kids. Meanwhile, the Mahdi Army was stripping out of its uniforms and hiding its weapons. And that was before the deputy health minister, among other Mahdi Army leaders, was thrown in the clink. Sunni insurgents, hightailing it for Diyala.
Now Iran is on notice that it needs to back off, with several its agents locked up, evidence of its weapons smuggling on display, and the Iranian and Syrian borders about to be shut down. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of wipe-Israel-off-the-map fame, is sounding like a flower child:
“We have spring weather in Iran. I hope it will be spring all over the world … We shy away from any kind of conflict and any kind of bloodshed, and we will be sad by such … There is no need for the use of force.”
Yes, that is what he really said, even though he was lying.
Congress wants very much to appear to be doing something. But if they do what they say they want to do, there will be consequences, as a number of other speakers noted in their own speeches:
House Minority Leader John Boehner: “We will embolden terrorists in every corner in the world. We will give Iran free access to the Middle East … And who doesn’t believe the terrorists will just follow our troops home?”
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo: “While there is no silver bullet to make our mission in Iraq easier, it is clear that eliminating or cutting funding for our men and women who wear the uniform of the United States of America is not a plan for ensuring stability in the Middle East. It is, rather, a recipe for empowering our enemies and endangering our troops.”
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga: “Some people from the other side seem to believe that if we pull out of Iraq, that the Iraqi people are going to go back to tending sheep and herding goats. That’s not what’s going to happen … what’s going to happen is you are going to see more bloodshed than we have seen in a long time in this world.”
That is what they really said. Modification wasn’t necessary. Here’s another good one:
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-NC: “Madam Speaker, where’s your plan for victory in Iraq?”
If Congress wants to do something useful, this might be a good time to shut up, watch and learn. George Bush, who isn’t saying much, is doing something. Things are happening that will continue to happen after this week’s blah blah blah is over and a worse than worthless, non-binding resolution has been passed.
Anyway, when Ayman al-Zawahiri is urging you to quit messing around and just do what you really want to do, you probably aren’t doing anything useful at all.
Jules Crittenden is an editor and columnist for the Boston Herald.
Crittenden’s web page is at Forward Movement.