Thursday, December 28, 2006


The President's Poor Choices

Sometimes you just have to sit back and smell the roses. And from where I'm sitting, the roses couldn't smell any sweeter for Democrats - and any more putrid for Republicans - in 2007.

Despite protestations from the war party, a new era of governing from a progressive agenda begins in just one week as the candidates elected in November are officially sworn in on January 4. In the House of Representatives, Democrats will hold a hefty advantage of 233-202 over their Republican counterparts, while the Senate will also swing marginally to the Dems, 51-49, though the accurate count is 49-49-2. Senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernard Sanders of Vermont are technically Independents, though both have said publicly that they will caucus and vote with the Democrats.

When the 110th Congress convenes, on one side of the aisle you will have embattled Republicans, ostensibly tied to their most visible leader, President George W. Bush, and Democrats committed to restoring respectability and responsibility after 12 years of Republican rule.

What Bush decides about the War in Iraq and how he will handle bills that reach his desk - notably a minimum wage increase and a rollback of the tax breaks doled out to major oil companies in 2005 - will weigh heavily on the Republicans.

If, as he has hinted recently, the president decides to send more troops to Iraq, the fallout could be severe and lead to impeachment. Equally certain in that scenario is that some Republican lawmakers will take pains to distance themselves from Mr. Bush as the mood of the people is for a reduction in troop levels leading to eventual disengagement.

If the president does an about-face and actually begins to draw down troop levels (unlikely), this will be seen as a preemptive win for the Democrats and set the Republicans back on their heels.

Bush has shown that he is neither a man of high principles nor deep convictions, but more of a political animal than any president since... well, since Bill Clinton. With his options constrained, the troop level choices for Bush range from bad to worse.

Either way, the Democrats win. Many on the left hope that Bush will suddenly see the light and begin backing out of Iraq while others hope he digs in his heels and fights on, ordering more troops into the fray, because that will accelerate the Democrats' agenda and sink Bush into a precarious position, teetering on forced removal from office by impeachment.

If Bush announces that his new plan calls for a "surge" in troops to secure Baghdad, the opposition will be swift and loud. A recent AP-Ipsos poll found that only 27% approve of Bush's handling of Iraq - a new low. With those kinds of numbers staring him in the face, Bush might as well throw political expediency out the window and do either what he likes or what will actually improve the situation in Iraq.

Sadly, the president doesn't listen to critics, nor does he accept cogent advice, as evidenced by his light handling of the ISG report released earlier this month which called for eventual troop redeployment, engagement with Syria and Iran in seeking a solution and offered the Bush administration somewhat of an easy way out.

As much as I hate to see it, I'm hoping that the president announces his "new way forward" as the "surge" strategy, because committing more troops to Iraq will anger the American people, amplify the debate and hasten his - and VP Dick Cheney's - removal from office.

Critics of the impeachment push will argue that it's wrong for America, that we've been through enough already and that we need to move on, but they fail to see the value of restoring the values and principles of our Constitution and that begins with investigating and trying those who failed to uphold it - the Bush administration.

That Bush, Cheney, et. al. broke the law is not a matter for debate. On which charges they will be tried, is. Bush, Cheney and their lackeys have committed a myriad of unlawful acts, told a boatload of lies and have squandered and/or stolen the nation's treasure. Impeachment is not a means of reprisal; it is the only just resolution to this administration's high crimes and misdemeanors.

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