Thursday, January 25, 2007

Fun's over

When the nation was new, presidents met their Constitutional obligation by preparing a written report on the state of the Union, which was read to Congress by a clerk. These were busy men: Washington had rebellions to quell, Adams was looking for ways to circumvent the Bill of Rights, and Jefferson, we now know, was studying the Koran. Besides, having the Executive climb the hill and address the Legislature, with the Judiciary looking on, was too much like a royal ritual they had fought a long war to shake off, the State Opening of Parliament.

As the Republic slouches toward empire, all our political rituals have become Vegased-up parodies of British originals: the bloated quadrennial coronations, the protracted state funerals, the showering of medals and decorations on the deserving and meretricious alike. All we lack, and it's in our favor, is a centuries-old tradition of deference. Nobody expects the British monarch to be charismatic, or even interesting -- the trappings of office take care of that. (As they teach in the military, you salute the rank, not the person.) We still expect our heads of state to deliver.

It seems beside the point to complain that Bush's song-and-dance lacked surprise or entertainment value. We have had six interminable years to learn exactly what he believes -- I nearly wrote "thinks" -- about everything from taxes to warrantless wiretaps to the warm, fuzzy soul of "Put-Put" Putin. There are no depths, hidden or otherwise. Even the jokey commentators lost interest: The Colbert Report and David Letterman had identical schtick about the number of times Cheney and Pelosi blinked, and neither one was funny. Condoleezza Rice provided some welcome comedy, and will probably be a popular Halloween mask this year, but so help me, I think the woman was just stifling a yawn. Next year, why not slap a coat of paint on the podium and we can all watch it dry?

The ceremony is over. Congress can now return to debating the precise language of its non-binding resolution in opposition to the deployment of more troops to Iraq. If George W. Bush is a more bumptious version of Elizabeth II outlining the legislative agenda of "My Government" (he wouldn't be so perky if he had to perform with a six-pound crown on his head), Congress has placed itself in the great tradition of Pontius Pilate. The blood of these Americans is not on our hands. See, we passed a resolution. Not our responsibility.

But it is. We didn't put the Democrats in charge for non-binding resolutions, nor for proclamations of John Greenleaf Whittier Day, nor for shout-outs to the Licking County Consolidated Middle School Championship Soccer Team. We put them there to get our troops out of this insane war, which we cannot win and where we can only make things worse. Maybe they can still accomplish something in Afghanistan, but setting them up as targets for Sadr's militias is lunacy. If the Democrats don't figure this out, and soon, they won't be in charge for long. By any means necessary.

It's nearly February, and all we've heard so far is that impeachment is "off the table." Fine. What's on the table? Chairman Rangel, when will we have hearings on your bill to reinstate the draft? It doesn't have a hope in hell, everyone knows that. That was never the point, was it? Chairman Waxman, if ever a government needed close oversight, it's this one. You used to be known as the Fastest Subpoena in the West. Has twelve years' inactivity slowed you on the draw? Chairman Conyers, how does this chancre Gonzalez get away with firing the US attorney who prosecuted Duke Cunningham, and half a dozen other US attorneys who were closing in on the Axis of Abramoff? I know you're old enough to remember the night Nixon fired Archibald Cox. What are they afraid of?

More important, what are you afraid of? You control both houses of Congress (hang in there, Senator Johnson). That means you don't have to worry about Murdoch's mendacious meat-sacks. You aren't going to make them like you. Screw them. You work for us, and we want the war over. Look at Bush's approval rating -- it they were taking polls in 1868, Andrew Johnson would have had better numbers. We aren't going to question your patriotism when you stop throwing our money away in Iraq and start spending it to rebuild New Orleans (for just one example). We no longer believe these weasels. We want to see them running to the Capitol with their lawyers as fast as their fat little legs can carry them. We want to watch them squirm on C-SPAN and sweat on C-SPAN2. We want them looking crappy because they were up all night shredding evidence. We want them ken-starred until they can't see straight, much less think of new ways to spy on us and wreck the world.

All right, don't impeach them. Tar and feather them, for all I care, but get to work.



Blogger little green said...

"Congress has placed itself in the great tradition of Pontius Pilate. The blood of these Americans is not on our hands. See, we passed a resolution. Not our responsibility."

I'm thinking a song needs to be adjusted. Call it, "Cowards of the Country."

Impeach them and turn them over to the World Court and charge anyone who gets in the way with obstruction of justice.

It appears that the House will do just that: obstruct justice. The Senate will obstruct social justice by refusing to raise the minimum wage without adding more handouts for the already well-off.

Cowardly, no-good slugs. Tar and feathers is far too good for them.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Tom Watson said...

Nice piece - very well said.

5:05 PM  

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