Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tough week

July is always a tough month in the newspaper business, and this one is tougher than most. It would be nice to have the luxury of losing a million bucks now and then, the way some companies do, but here a couple of subpar weeks pushes us into panic mode. So I'm feeling panicky.

Finding somebody with bigger problems sometimes helps, so I listened to the president's news conference while delivering papers on Thursday. He actually sounded better than usual -- it was one of the few times I wasn't wishing that Tony Blair was around to explain our Iraq policy to us. But as Mara Liasson pointed out, it did seem that Bush was involved in a different debate than the rest of us. Most of the country is arguing about how best to leave Iraq; Bush seems to be ready to stay there forever.

Bush also bothered me when he said it was the job of commanders of the ground to decide when troops should come home. Dead wrong. The job of commanders is to conduct the war under the general direction of the commander in chief. Congress is supposed to decide when wars begin and end. The opinion of commanders about when the situation is stable enough to send troops home safely obviously should be considered carefully, but it isn't their call.

Then there was the other story of the day: Harriet Miers refused to appear at a congressional hearing. This seemed to get less attention than it deserved, and I was glad to finally find the post I had been looking for. Whatever the merits of the executive privilege claim, I don't see how it entitles someone to ignore a subpoena. But then lots of things that go on in the administration these days don't make much sense to me.

Personally, I don't much care about what the executive branch is required to disclose to Congress. But I do care about what it is required to disclose to me. Those people all get paid with my money. And Congress appears to be the only dog I have in this fight right now, so I'm pulling for Congress.


Chuck Rightmire said...

Good post. For more than four years now, I've wondered why we're on the ground in Iraq. Bush, et. al, were obviously wrong in their arguments about the reasons for going to war. (And if anybody wants to cite the violations of the U.N. resolutions, I will remind them that those resolutions were the U.N.'s to enforce, not ours.) I see by the daily today that Congress's approval rating is lower than the President's. But I'll bet it doesn't hurt Denny in the voting booth, or Cubin, or any other incumbent who is not caught with his finger in the sugar jar. It is the other guy's representative or senator who is bad, not ours. And some of the heat may be because the dems have not carried out their promises to control the war. They have now disappointed their constituents. But the vast majority of those in Congress will still be there in two years.

Shane C. Mason said...

Well said all the way around. I have a couple of thoughts:

Finding somebody with bigger problems sometimes helps...

That's likely why I often find myself watching reruns of Cops in the wee hours of the morning.

You are right about Bush's propaganda line about listening to the generals. Not only should he be guiding the general war, but remember that he fired the the generals that said the surge was a bad idea? Now he uses it as a tool to stifle debate on the topic.

Stg. Jack said...

You guys are a laugh a minute. Where are you from?

“Congress is supposed to decide when wars begin and end.”

Like how? Ordering Japan to attack Pearl Harbor? Or maybe dropping The Big One on Hiroshima?

“[President Bush] should he be guiding the general war...”

That’s rich. That’s how Hitler lost WW II.

David said...

Thanks, Jack. You're pretty funny, too. I guess you do realize that Congress did, in fact, declare World War II? Last time it ever happened. In those days, people thought the Constitution meant what it said.

Hitler's micromanagement didn't help the Germans in World War II, but what probably lost the war was his decision to invade the Soviet Union. A functioning legislative body, with a Constitution it adhered to, might have said no. And we would live in a different world.

Stg. Jack said...

Congress decided to “begin” WW II? Oh, yes, but that was AFTER the attack on Pearl Harbor, correct? I think what you mean is that Japan decided to “begin” WW II in the Pacific by invading Manchuria, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, etc. and by attacking us at Pearl Harbor. Congress merely took note of the fact by formerly declaring war on Japan. But we were already at war, get it? And don’t tell those sailors and marines who fought back at Pearl Harbor that Congress had not authorized their actions, for heaven’s sake!

Anyway, the point is, Congress is not “supposed to decide when wars begin and end.” It just approves money for wars. The Commander in Chief decides, the generals decide, and even the soldiers in the field decide.

You need to stop living in the past. As far as I know, WW II was the last time Congress issued a declaration of war. That was almost 70 years ago. We have fought numerous wars, large and small, since then without any declaration of war. Times change.

Last, in regard to your comment that “Bush seems to be ready to stay there forever,” you need to understand that our long-term military strategy in the Middle East requires our indefinite presence in Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and elsewhere in the region. We are not going anywhere, anytime soon, contrary to what Nancy or Mara have told you. The “debate” you are engaged in is specious, a mere entertainment for the gullible and the wishful.

To understand the future, read today’s AP article entitled, “Air Force Quietly Building Iraq Presence” by Charles J. Hanley. If you think all those men and machines are for the current police action in Iraq, and that they will all be gone by autumn or next spring or whenever, you probably really do believe that Congress decides when wars begin and end.

David said...

Now, Jack, that post is wrong in just about every way it's possible to be wrong. Bad history. Bad analysis. Bad rhetoric. Does that "Stg." in front of your name stand for stooge?