The problem, which I'm sure Clarke and Simon fully understand, is that there isn't going to be a congressional resolution this time – in fact I'd be very surprised if the administration gives the leadership of either party more than 24 hours notice before the bombing begins. No marketing campaigns, no debates, no arms twisted in the Oval Office. Just a fait accompli. (That's French for: "Choke on it, suckers.")
It's already obvious: This one's going to be a unitary executive special – right down the line. The administration's vanished political capital leaves it no other way. When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose.
So what, exactly, is there for Congress to ask the "hard questions" about? And what answers would it get, other than: "That's classified," or "That's a privileged executive branch communication"? And how is a rubber stamp Congress supposed to stop a war that officially isn't on the drawing boards? Particularly when the Republican majority hopes – or at least understands – it could be the magic bullet, so to speak, that saves their sorry asses this November?
To ask these questions is to answer them.
This is certainly sobering enough. While I hope that something will intervene in this nightmare, I have come to the conclusion that it will happen. For me, that day will mark the death of liberal democracy in the United States. It's on life support right now, though occasionally it does rally enough to be pushed around in a wheelchair (the immigration rallies of the last few weeks, for example).
Liberal democracy is not some veil of illusion that "Power" deploys to bamboozle "The People." It is a set of very concrete principles and institutions designed from the ground up for a population to use to organize their own power into competing self-interested factions, who then compromise in order to persist. No one gets all they want, and some factions get more than they really deserve, but it works to curb the worst abuses.
In order to function properly, the competing blocks of power must be large enough to counterbalance each other, which in turn means competition and compromise within factions. It's a damn ingenious system, but it has an achilles heel. It assumes that there will be compromise when desires are in conflict. Not in every case, but over the long haul the contest will balance out.
The extreme right refuses to compromise and it has attracted a large enough support base that it can overwhelm alternative voices in its general constituency. It appeals not to principles or even to personal gain (except to the sliver of economic elites - the principle being greed and the gain being their own), but instead substitutes emotion politics - kicking Arab ass and saving the little feotuses for Jesus. It is a cynical, brilliant and ruthlessly effective operation.
What is happening on the left, however, is simply pathetic. Daily, I get to watch the "left's" favorite political activity: forming a circular firing squad. I was on Firedoglake the other day, and ended up removing it from my bookmark list. I read people griping about the fact that the Democratic Party backed candidate, Tammy Duckworth, beat the "real" "grassroots" candidate in the primary, accompanied by threats to not vote for Duckworth *because* she was promoted by the party. Uh, folks? The voters of that area preferred Duckworth. Are you now really going to throw the election to the Republican (a la the Naderites in 2000) because you have a chip on your shoulder over your gal losing the primary? Sounds like it. Or the caterwauling about how Pelosi is poseur scum when she posts to Kos (led by Hamsher herself) because Pelosi doesn't have 24/7/365 to read and respond to each whining, petulant, personally insulting post.
What I see on FDL is repeated daily on other sites where people pride themselves on rejecting the Democratic Party, making "no compromise" into a fetish. Beating up on the people who are facing one of the most savagely effective political machines in history ain't going to get you very far. Saying that unless the party caters to your idiosyncratic view, you can't be bothered to support it is a luxury you don't have anymore. Blaming "liberals" for not being you is simply adding more validity to the anti-liberal rhetoric of the right. Basically, the people at Little Green Footballs and at Daily Kos or FDL agree on one thing: it's the Democrats' fault, and they need to be driven out. They agree that there can be no compromise with these trecherous, un-American Democrats.
There is a very, very small window of opportunity for liberal democracy in the US. It's called the 2006 mid-terms. No, it won't stop Bush. As Billmon notes, he has nothing to lose no matter what he does, so there is no preventing the assault on Iran. It's not about trying to ameliorate a bad situation.It's not about planks in a party platform. It's about trying to wrest control of the government from people who really, truly, honest-to-God want to bring about Armegeddon.
THAT is the only issue up for a vote. I don't give a damn whether Tammy Duckworth is sufficiently whatever for your tastes - she's not a Republican. I don't care if she is the darling of the party dinosaurs - she is another body towards the majority. I don't care if the party votes to censure Bush - I want the party to gain a legislative majority because only that will give even a fighting chance to root out the fascists who are occupying the government right now.
Is it really going to take Bush nuking Iran to get the so-called "left" to act in their own self-interest - that interest being keeping the country from going fascist for a few generations? And, no, I am not impressed with the mouth-foaming hysteria that Reid & Pelosi are *just like* Frist and DeLay, so we're better off without them or they don't get rewards unless they vote the way you want. That's the thinking that got us George Bush instead of Al Gore.
Yeah, I know. It's a lost Kos.