It can be pretty hard at times to remain personally impartial and fair when writing about politics, and today is going to be just one of those days.
I call the GOP the party of zero accountability because they passed on the opportunity to pass legislation that would reduce the influence of corrupt lobbying and abuse of congressional pages in the 109th Congress. With the scandals raging and a potential Democratic takeover of Congress looming a few months and weeks away, they could have seized the initiative and gotten bi-partisan support for these very important issues while currying favor with the public.
For once, they could have done some real good, and they sat on their asses instead.
Instead of holding oversight hearings of the executive branch of which there were many hundreds during the Clinton administration, the GOP took a hands off approach and pretty much let President Bush do whatever he wanted to do. Republican leaders in the Senate and particularly the House twisted other Republican arms until they were bruised, beaten, and in some cases broken outright to quell any dissent with the President's policies.
Tom DeLay was admonished by the House ethics committee multiple times for threatening people to change their votes, and the result was House Speaker Hastert removing "disloyal" Republicans from those committees in acts of pure retaliation. Those ethics committees later changed the rules specifically to allow DeLay to remain in his power positions within the House even after being indicted by a federal grand jury.
Hearings that were eventually held were structured to make any witnesses that appeared before them unaccountable for their testimony, often refusing to have them sworn in over the objections of committee members. There were no subpoenas issued for administration officials that refused to testify, or for documents that were withheld.
With Democrats back in the majority in both houses, things figured to change, and I had hoped that Republicans that were no longer under the thumb of their dictatorial party leaders would step forward and work with Democrats to pass legislation that we could all agree would benefit the country, and for a while, that began to happen.
Despite the arcane way in which bills were passed in the first 100 hours of the House, most of the legislation was passed with bi-partisan veto-proof majorities. Once Republicans stopped holding up the minimum wage increase in the Senate with unconstitutional and non-germane amendments, it passed with over 95% approval.
To make a point clear, I did not support the House Speaker's decision to ram through the 100-hours agenda without committee or amendment consideration. It was precisely that kind of partisan hackery that the GOP has been crapping all over the Congress for the past 12 years and I was ashamed that we turned around and abused them right back.
Thankfully that abuse was only temporary in the House and wasn't even possible in the Senate at all, which is why the Senate version of the minimum wage bill has amendments attached, those being -- and I'm sure you could have easily guessed -- tax cuts for businesses.
Legislating is a give-and-take game and I firmly believe that it works. I don't like the tax cuts because it's just making the Republican-inherited budget deficit even larger, but they weren't for billion dollar multi-national corporations and we got the wage hike in return, so it's fair -- the kind of fairness we didn't get when we were in the minority, I might add.
During those 12 years, and especially nearer to the last four, Republicans under the direction of Karl Rove thought it would be helpful if they made up tag line insults and sound bytes that they could use against us to quell rational conversation. If Democrats wanted to discuss anything other than the old GOP doctrine of "stay the course", regardless of what our ideas were and regardless if we were simply interested in discussing other ideas, the GOP mantra was "Democrats just want to cut-and-run."
One of my favorites was that the Democratic party was the party of no new ideas, and of obstruction. As we've seen, the minority party's power lay in the power of obstruction, it's all they have. Republicans turned coat on the Senate's version of the minimum wage bill and filibustered it not even one-and-a-half months into the 110th session.
Today I will turn the insults back on them, where today, Republicans are truly the party of zero accountability. The reason why is simple: they are filibustering debate on the Iraq war, the debate that will proceed the non-binding resolutions condemning the McCain doctrine of troop surge.
Forget about the resolution itself, Republicans right now are filibustering the debate on the bill, even though as many as 10-12 of them are on the record as supporting the resolution and fully intend to vote for it. Those 10-12 Republicans are more than enough to break a potential filibuster, but we can't even get that far because they are terrified of even debating it.
Things are different now. Republicans don't run the show in Congress for the first time in a decade, and they are scared. I understand, it sucks not having any power, doesn't it?
This is the part where I drop my attempts at being impartial and fair. Today I am calling every Republican in the Senate a coward, and today I am going to use the same warped logic they have used to rationalize their behavior over the past decade. I can only assume that because Republican Senators refuse to allow the Senate to debate this resolution that they oppose the resolution. This resolution condemns the McCain Doctrine, therefore I assume that all Republicans in the Senate must actually support the McCain doctrine.
The GOP is now on record for unanimously supporting troop surge in Iraq -- nearly 40,000 more of our friends and family will be sent into a civil war that cannot be won from the outside -- and they can't possibly deny it. The unfair thing to say is that a vote against debate for this resolution is in fact a vote against the resolution.
Forget that the resolution has no legal ramifications at all, forget that we're talking about 40,000 human lives that have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons. These are not inanimate objects like tanks that can be replaced at a moments notice. These people are not fodder for ideology.
Today, Republicans in the Senate are playing political games on the single most serious debate to be held on the Senate floor in the past decade. I seriously question whether or not they can be trusted at all at this point to act in the best interest of this country. Perhaps they have become so tied to the war that they are simply no longer capable of making impartial decisions regarding it.
There is no accountability for the failed Iraq war as long as Republicans will have a say, and the only way to change this is to vote Democratic in 2008 to finish removing the party of obstruction, the party of zero accountability, the party of corruption,and the party of no new ideas that was started in '06.
This war is unwinnable; it is time to bring our troops home.