While my Athena was sparing in her criticism of the president today, she saved her toughest words for the behavior of Congress’s new majority party. Fearing a “power vacuum” in Washington “if the administration is, indeed, collapsing,” Peggy observes:
The Democrats of Capitol Hill will fill that one. And they seem–and seemed in their statements after the president’s speech–wholly unprepared to fill it, wholly unserious in their thoughts and approach. They seem locked into habits that no longer pertain, and absorbed by the small picture of partisan advancement at the expense of the big picture, which is that the nation is in trouble and needs their help. They are sunk in the superficial.
Just look at the Democrats’ reaction the president’s proposal for a troop “surge” in Iraq. Before he had even presented his plan to the nation, Teddy Kennedy was speaking out against it. If he had any respect for the office his brother once held, he would have at least waited until the president spoke and addressed the points he raised to show why he believed the Commander-in-Chief was wrong.
But, instead of offering serious criticism of the president’s policies, Democratic Senators have been assuming things about Administration officials and describing the plan not as it is, but as they need it to be so they can continue to make the same criticisms of the president that served them so well in the 2006 election — criticisms which, at the time, were more valid that they are today.
To show just how, in Peggy’s words, the Democrats are sunk in the superficial, let’s turn to the most celebrated unserious remarks about the new policy, those of the junior Senator from the Golden State, Barbara Boxer who doesn’t think Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice can make decisions about military given that she lacks an “immediate family” As the New York Post put it, “It’s hard to imagine the firestorm that similar comments would have ignited, coming from a Republican to a Democrat, or from a man to a woman, in the United States Senate.” Exactly.
But, Mrs. Boxer has not been the only one to level absurd accusations against the Administration. New York’s Senators claim the president hasn’t offered a new plan. Senator Clinton claims, “The president simply has not gotten the message sent loudly and clearly by the American people, that we desperately need a new course” while her senior colleague Charles Schumer calls the president’s proposal “a new surge without a new strategy.”
So, instead of addressing the points the president raised, they say he’s not offering anything new so they more easily dismiss his proposal without doing the hard work of actually judging it on its merits.
Mrs. Boxer even presumes to know those from whom the Secretary of State is not seeking input: “So from where I sit, Madam Secretary, you are not listening to the American people, you are not listening to the military, you are not listening to the bipartisan voices from the Senate, you are not listening to the Iraq Study Group.”
The President and his advisors made a number of mistakes in Iraq in 2006. They underestimated the resilience of the militias and terrorist groups in the wake of the elections in 2005. He should have shifted his strategy sometime last year. But, now he has proposed a new strategy, one which merits serious consideration.
Democrats have contended that one reason we weren’t winning in Iraq was that with a Republican Congress, the Administration did not have adequate oversight. Now that we have a Democratic Congress, with Democrats in a position to offer that oversight, they would rather make juvenile assumptions and engage in partisan sniping than take seriously their constitutional responsibilities. This is not the stuff of which a serious governing party is made.