A broken clock is right twice a day. George Bush got something right too in his July 12 news conference. He said that Congress has the right to fund wars (he forgot to add that they also have a right not to fund them) but that Congress has no business trying to manage wars. Lets not quibble over whether requiring troop withdrawals to begin within 120 days counts as managing or defunding or managing by threatening to defund eventually. The relevant point is that if most Democrats and increasingly many Republicans really want to end the war – or, what is not necessarily the same thing, if they truly want to represent their constituents’ desires to end the war (and, in so doing, not just to end the murder and mayhem but also to shut down what has turned into an incubator for future generations of “terrorists”) -- Congress should take the obvious, the honest, the constitutionally mandated step of defunding the war immediately if not sooner. Otherwise, as the Decider pointed out, they’re only playing “political games.”
Were Bush cleverer, he might have added that the prevaricators in Congress, and especially the Democratic leadership, play political games poorly. Recent polls indicate that they’re not positioning themselves well for the coming electoral cycle. What they’re doing instead is bringing contempt upon Congress – not in the technical sense so much recently in the news -- but in a more literal and disabling way [see “Contests in Cowardice,” July 9].
Every move the Democratic leadership makes is a misstep, not just morally, but in the crass strategic terms that motivate Pelosiites [see “Pelosiism: the Highest Stage of Clintonism,” May 28.]. The Pelosiites are against the war, but they won’t end it, not really; and neither will they impeach the perpetrators – that’s still “off the table.” Then what use are they! In the 2000 election, a Clintonized party [on the concept of “clintonism,” see “Combat Clintonism!” April 27] strained the lesser evilism on which Democrats depend for votes. Back then, it was reasonable for those of us who believe in the “like father, like son” principle to wonder which one of Gush v. Bore really was the lesser evil; not out of any fondness for Papa Doc Bush, but because the Clinton administration was so god awful (and because Al Gore hadn’t yet been “reborn,” as Ralph Nader put it on Democracy Now, as a “public citizen”). Most people sided with the Democrats even so, even in Florida. Bush became President anyway. We must not let today’s Democrats make us susceptible again to a similar fate! Yes, it’s fine that they investigate. After six years of George Bush, there is more investigating for them to do than there is time to do it. It is indispensable work. Still, to paraphrase the Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach, the point, in the end, is not to investigate this lawless, clueless and contemptible administration, but to change it.
Note: John Edwards’ positions on some domestic issues have been pretty good [see “After the Poverty of Clintonism,” July 10; “Edwards’ Challenge,” May 22; and “Bravo for Edwards (Sort of),” May 3]; better than Hillary Clinton’s certainly, and Barack Obama’s too. But only Dennis Kucinich has, so far, boldly and unequivocally broken away from the Clintonite fold. He has come out for single-payer national health insurance, for defunding the war now, for renegotiating NAFTA and other harmful “free trade” agreements, and for a host of other domestic and foreign policy positions that the country urgently needs, that the Democratic “base” wants, and that the mainstream Democratic Party stands against. Mike Gravel has taken good positions too especially on the Iraq War and other foreign policy issues. Even if they’re sure losers in a political culture where money matters [see “Money Matters,” July 2], these two candidates, along with Chris Dodd, have added a great deal to the otherwise dismal political “conversation” of our time. Kucinich’s positions alone are worth more than those of all the other candidates put together. That’s why it is distressing that at the most recent joint appearance (I hesitate to call it a “debate”) of the Democratic candidates, at the NAACP convention in Detroit, Edwards and Clinton were heard discussing ways to restrict future debates to “serious” candidates only. We must not let this happen! Without Kucinich and Gravel, Edwards and perhaps Obama too are more likely than they are with them around to drift back into comfortable Clintonite positions. That may be inevitable in any case, especially after it becomes clear who the Democratic candidate will be, but Democratic voters should do everything they can to delay and then impede this process. For now, that means keeping Kucinich and Gravel and the others in, not kicking them out. Shame on Edwards for even contemplating otherwise! Clinton, of course, has no shame, so it would be a futile exercise to try to shame her.