Keeping a check on congressional reality
By Frank Salvato
And so it begins.
Just a few days after making the move from "the party of no" to the majority party, Democratic leaders are backing away from the "undermine Bush at all costs" rhetoric they have been employing since November of 2000. In as much as their constant degradation of the Bush Administration was boorish, their constant debasing of the president's achievements now saddles them with the impossible task of living up to their own criticism.
The softening of the rhetoric started almost immediately as calls for President Bush's impeachment gave way to calls for a more amicable, bi-partisan work atmosphere in Washington. The venomous tirades of everyone from Nancy Pelosi to Harry Reid to Charlie Rangel morphed from "Bush lied and people died," "Bush is inept," "Bush is stupid," and "Bush was behind September 11th" into a poor impression of Rodney King's "Can't we all just get along?"
With the reality that they had captured control of the House and the Senate washing over them, the politically opportunistic headhunters of the Democratic leadership seem to have lost their taste for political flesh. Evidently, for the Progressive-Left, it is quite sobering to realize that when you win the responsibility of leadership you have to produce rather than simply and blindly criticize.
This couldn't have been more evident than with the front-page New York Times story that told of the impending doom that would besiege Iraq should the American military and coalition forces withdraw prematurely from that theater. What a difference a week makes.
A little over seven days previous the Times was quoting Cindy Sheehan on the need for immediate troop withdrawal as if she was an omnipotent being and John Murtha was the wise and seasoned war veteran that knew so much more than the tinhorn generals who had worked their ways up to the highest offices of the Pentagon. But seven days later, the New York Times, the paper of record for all that is anti-war and anti-Bush, was touting the very same position the Bush Administration has maintained from the very beginning; we cannot leave until the Iraqis can defend themselves.
General John Batiste, a frequent critic of the Bush Administration's policies in Iraq, said that before the US could consider troop withdrawals, we should make efforts to lessen unemployment, secure the Iraqi borders, solicit more cooperation from tribal leaders, complete training of Iraq's security forces, and eliminate the militias. He called congressional proposals for early troop withdrawal, "terribly naïve."
Gee, where have I heard that before?
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), interviewed by FOX News's Martha MacCallum, commented that it was necessary to "listen to the generals on the ground" and to heed the opinion of Secretary of Defense nominee Robert Gates. Perhaps Senator Nelson's intellectual revelation was genuine (of course, one would have to question whether the good senator suffered from some sort of intellectual time delay for this to be true), but odds are that it had more to do with having heard President Bush express this policy ad nauseam over the years.
The point is this; the Democrats took control of the House and the Senate on the innocuous platform of "change." This "change" – just as when it was used to bring Bill Clinton to power in 1992 – went undefined, dramatically promoted in every speech delivered by every Democratic candidate. The American people were never offered any plan of action to achieve this "change," nor reasons why "change" was so desperately needed, we simply bought the concept of "change" proving P.T. Barnum correct in his adage that there is a sucker born every minute.
They told us we needed to "change" the strategy in Iraq. They said we needed to "change" the direction of the economy. Border security? "Change!" Immigration reform? "Change!" Shore-up Social Security and tackle tax reform? "Change and change!"
It is going to be necessary to point it out when the newly elected power brokers from the left side of aisle try to pass off the recycled policies of those who were in power before them as "change." We are going to have to overcome our sitcom attentions spans and remember that the economy was in great shape when the Democrats inherited it. We are going to have to remember that Conservatives tried to move forward on border security and Social Security, immigration and tax reforms only to be impinged by an obstructionist minority party that was dragged kicking and screaming to every vote on every issue. We have to remember that the Bush Administration's policy on troop withdrawal from Iraq was to give the Iraqis enough time to train their military so that they could defend themselves against radical Islam's version of the killing fields.
We have to remember where we are and what was achieved prior to the Democrats taking power. If we don't, they will surely take credit for it all as they attempt to move our nation further to the left. Good examples of their employment of this despicable tactic are their continued hijacking of the credit for the balanced budgets of the 1990s (achieved through the vision of Newt Gingrich's Contract with America) and the financial windfall of the "peace dividend" that saw them create a nauseating number of new entitlement programs while slashing the military and intelligence budgets pre-September 11th.
In politics and government, it is always a stupid idea to affect "change" for the sake of change. Sadly, the majority of those who went to the polls on November 7th – and all of those who stayed home in protest – bought the tainted bill of goods the Democrats were selling…again. Let's hope that after their reign of "change" is through we survive with a little bit more than just "change" in our pockets.
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. He recently partnered in producing the first-ever symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at email@example.com. Copyright © 2006 Frank Salvato