On C-SPAN yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations committee had a hearing with Secretary Rice. Today it is the Senate Armed Services committee with Secretary Gates and Chairman of Joint Chiefs Pace. Quite the excercise in contrast.
Some Senators are members of both committees. Secretary Rice was afforded very little respect yesterday. The Senators used their allotted time to make speeches and personal attacks instead of asking questions. It seemed to be a lost opportunity for some answers. Senator Boxer went so far as to again call Secretary Rice a liar and to tell her she had no way of understanding the human cost of the war in Iraq as she had no 'immediate family' reference. Wow. I thought that particular form of nasty feminism was long gone. I thought the movement was all about respect for personal choices. I guess it doesn't apply if you are a conservative, black woman.
Both parties were voicing displeasure with the new strategy in Iraq.
Today shows a more thoughtful and calm group of Senators willing to listen and learn what the thoughts are of the new Secretary of Defense. An interesting contrast involves the new Senator from Virginia, Senator Webb when compared to Senator McCain. Webb, boasting of his time in the Pentagon during the Reagan years though not of the fact he only lasted 7 short months before being fired for incompetence as Secretary of the Navy, is now a Democrat for the sake of seeking office. He wore his Marine son's combat boots with his suits while campaigning to prove his street cred. Webb's a conservative and will soon disappoint the liberals who gleefully voted for him in November.
Senator McCain also has a Marine son in Iraq. He believes the new strategy and still believes in victory. He asked if those opposed to the new strategy think leaving is the best choice? I tend to agree with Senator McCain that now is the time for full participation by the Iraqis in the mission and if progress is not shown in the very near future then it will be clear the people of Iraq will not be able to meet the challenges of a free society.
Senator Lieberman said now is the time for all those opposing the new strategy to produce their plan for victory. He lamented the point that most of the opposition seems to be raw politics and not in the best interests of our country. He said we should remember that when the first President Bush went into Kuwait he only had the support of about 17% of the U.S. public. When the mission was successful, he enjoyed approval ratings of 90%, the highest of any sitting American president. He said we must think of the long run. Decisions must sometimes be made in light of long term vision, not popularity or a future legacy.
President Bush is an ideologue. He is not of the school of realism. He truly believes every human being is entitled to a life of freedom. This is a noble trait. It is a very liberal trait. It is a good trait.
This is tough stuff. If the answers were simple, the problem would have been attended to in the previous administration. The previous administration was responsible for the 1998 resolution making regime change in Iraq as our national policy. But, Clinton was more concerned with legacy and personal ambitions of him and his wife to do brave moves in the world. He authorized, in 2002 after he was long out of office, Sandy Berger, former NSA to Maddie Allbright, to go into the National Archives and research documents on brewing events that lead to Sept 11, 2001. Berger morphed into Burglar and stole classified, archived documents by stuffing them into his sock, trousers and on his person while being filmed by security cameras. He left the building with them and even went so far as to hide them under a trailer at a construction site. Why was the full extent of his criminal activity not known until December 2006, after the November elections? Why was he only given a fine and community service? Hillary Rodham began her Washington career as a staffer on Watergate committees and their hearings during the Nixon days. You'd think she and Bill would not resort to those type of tactics to coverup his administrations actions.
I go back to the absence of common sense in politics. The enemy is watching. Yes, there is a real enemy. Troubled nations look to the U.S. for help. Whether you are proud of our place in the world and the responsibilities that our place brings, or think if we just not bother anyone then we will not be bothered, the fact is that the words of our politicians are broadcast around the world. binLaden bloviates that Americans are too soft to respond to bully tactics, just as Saddam did. Neither thought Americans would be up to the task of war in Afghanistan or Iraq.
I continue to pray we prove them wrong.