Sunday, February 04, 2007

Congressional power -- use it or lose it

By Libby Spencer

James Fallows makes a good case in The Atlantic for Congress to put aside meaningless bickering over non-binding Iraq resolutions and take an immediate hard line approach on Iran. He says:

What the Congress can do is draw the line. It can say that war with Iran is anathema to the interests of the United States and contrary to the will of its elected representatives. And it should do that now.

Well they can do much more than that. I've been meaning to link to this piece I found via Middle Earth Journal, for a while now. This excellent article by Ron Perlstein on how Democrats can end the war lays it out step by step and every Democratic officeholder should read it full, but here's the money quote.

Immediately after the Cambodian invasion Senate doves rolled out three coordinated bills. (Each had bipartisan sponsorship; those were different days.) John Sherman Cooper, R-Ken., and Frank Church, D-Idaho, proposed banning funds for extending the war into Cambodia and Laos. Another bipartisan coalition drafted a repeal of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, the congressional authorization for war that had passed 98 to 2 in 1964. George McGovern, D-S.D., and Mark Hatfield, R-Ore., were in charge of the granddaddy of them all: an amendment requiring the president to either go to Congress for a declaration of war or end the war, by Dec. 31, 1970.

This is exactly the sort of Congressional action I've been calling for since the mid-terms. This is no time for timidity. As Perlstein points out:

You know that whatever the facts, the right will blame "liberals" and "Democrats" for losing Iraq; that's as inevitable as the fact that we've already lost Iraq -- and as inevitable as an arrogant president playing into Democratic hands by expanding the engagement (he already is). What would be inexcusable is if wobbly Democrats managed to maneuver themselves timidly into a corner that made them only the right-wing's scapegoats -- and not the champions that truly made their stand to end the war.

Exactly. The latest polls show a majority of Americans favor a stronger response from this Congress in checking the recklessness of this administration. We want our legislators to stop dicking around with political theater and show some real gravitas. Any incumbent that can't, or won't, rise to the challenge will likely find themselves looking for new employment in 08.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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