Monday, 5 February 2007

Further killing the debate on Iraq

Surely stinting the debate on issues as serious and urgent as presidential power — in re to Bush thinking he can be "the decision-maker" on every aspect of Iraq he pleases — and Iraq policy is not a proper move by a major party in a democratic republic. Right? Right?

The Republicans in the Senate are stalling the debate on Iraq.

A long-awaited Senate showdown on the war in Iraq was slammed shut before it even started last night when a nearly united Republican front voted to stop the Senate from debating a resolution opposing President Bush's plan to send 21,500 additional combat troops into battle.

A day of posturing, finger pointing and backroom wrangling came to nothing when Democratic and Republican leaders failed to reach agreement on which resolutions would come to a vote and which would be subject to a filibuster. Republicans insisted that the impasse soon would be broken, but after Democrats came up 11 votes short of the 60 needed to break the filibuster, a solution was nowhere in evidence.

"It is clear their actions are not driven by getting votes on Republican proposals. They are driven by a desire to provide political cover for President Bush," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said. "They can't rubber-stamp the president's policies in Iraq any more, so they've decided to stamp out debate and let the president's escalation plan proceed unchecked."

I find it amazing that the GOP is still keeping a strong movement (i.e. not too fractured); protecting Bush even though many of his policies cost tens of Republican seats in Congress.

However I must cut the Republicans some major slack, for one reason: the Democrats did not play fair — at all. Not that the Republicans were high and mighty in their rule, of course they were not, they bullied and exploited, but this kind of behavior from the Democrats does not help anyone, not least the poor state of American politics. The article continues...
For their part, Republicans said they had no intention of avoiding the debate. They simply wanted a fair hearing on their own proposals.

"This vote this afternoon should not be misunderstood. This is a fairness vote," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.
The Democratic leadership gave Republicans a choice: Allow all four resolutions to come to a vote, with a simple majority needed for passage, or debate and vote on just two resolutions, Warner's and McCain's.

Glad to hear the Dems are making the most of their majority; they better cherish these two years...

Even if there was a 'debate', it would make a freshmen polisci 101 class discussion look like what a debate should be. It is no secret I favor a parliamentary system for general governance and the legislature itself. One of the reasons: debate. I have watched my share of CSPAN and CSPAN 2, as well as watching Congress in real life, to know the US is not included as one of the countries that enjoys an ample level of debate and intellectual discourse that allows proper actions to be taken by the legslative body of a government based on the democratic system. Within the hallow chambers of the Senate and House of Representatives, here and there are some good debates, but it is largely political posturing or offering up a nonsensical motion to declare how great it was Florida State won the college football game (I'm not joking on that one). Is this how the government of the world's sole superpower is supposed to act? Is this how any country's government is supposed to act?

Still I do not like the fact that this kind of anti-discussion finger-pointing do-nothingness is occurring, especially on the important Iraqi issue. See the voting statistics here.

The Democrats' childish moves and frustrating motives in this latest incident shows they are not that much of an improvement on the previous Republican majority. I will be compiling a report card for the 110th Congress to check up on their progress — or lack of progress — soon.

Both the people and politicians of America face a choice: have a debate over Iraq or continue the ignorance and denial, lack of integrity and democracy, that is so corrupting the politics of the United States and the lives of Iraqis as we speak. Debate, not Ann Coulter hate-speech style or George W. Bush one-sided rhetoric style, is needed — honest debate over the facts and issues. This isn't playground politics, the decisions Congress makes are important. It should start living up to its role, and the American people to theirs.

Update: BBC News has an easier-to-follow, more concise article than the quotable Washington Post article above.

Song stuck in my head right now: "Starlight" by Muse.

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