Real Wealth Society

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I’ve been thinking about pressure by Fred Cederholm

Column for on/after May 13th, 2007

I’ve been thinking about pressure. Actually I’ve been thinking about Iraq, 11 incumbents, the November 2006 elections, the November 2008 elections, the summer of our discontent, history/ historiography, and the Holy Lands of the Middle East. Last week saw the unfolding of some events which I would have never expected. In the broader scheme and context of the ongoing action(s) in Iraq, things continue on pretty much as I expected. But then again, there were occurrences and disclosures which actually made the news that give rise to some hope that “the times, they are a changing.”

You see 11 members of the Republican Party (who were lucky enough to be in those now minorities of GOP incumbents who were re-elected last November) met with Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Snow to air their concerns, and to question the unflinching dogma of “saying the course” in Iraq without some modification of what that course of action is. No one should ever doubt that this past election was a referendum on Iraq. The Democrats were swept into only “virtual” controlling majorities in both the US House and the US Senate. Given the checks and balances of our Constitution; the Dems still lack the mandate of a two-thirds majority needed to override a Presidential veto. Congress still has the power of the purse, but the President is the Commander-in-Chief and has the power of the veto. Therein lies the rub and gives rise to what amounts to as the ultimate supremacy of the pressure of public opinion.

In keeping with campaign promises which had courted the public opinion against the continued occupation and bloodletting in Iraq, the first salvo of a “continued” war funding bill came with the caveats of a timetable with benchmarks measuring progress toward some ultimate ending of the “action” there. Bush didn’t blink, and vetoed the bill. He met with the new Congressional leaders not even giving any credible lip service to compromise for a litany of reasons – all of which we’ve heard before. Bush can’t run again in 2008. He hitched his wagon to the outcome in Iraq. His legacy rests there, and there alone. I hesitate to call this a “war” because like all other conflicts in my life time, there was no Act of War declared by Congress. There was merely an authorization/deferral of “war” powers to the President.

Now… Congress can blink and authorize the continued funding; giving Bush what he wants. Or, they can try a second, third, or fourth attempt to link restriction/ benchmarks to the money. Without a veto over-riding majority (by picking up the needed cross-over votes from a requisite number of Reps bolting from the Bush camp) there will be an on-going stalemate. The rhetoric will escalate as to who is supporting our troops, and the mud slinging from both camps would get really dirty. Congress is putting pressure on Bush TO give in. The general public is putting pressure on Congress NOT TO give in.

Both the Dems and Reps (with the 2006 elections fresh in mind) are looking to those coming in 2008. They both know what the public giveth in one election; the public can taketh in the next. It should be noted that the most recent polls show BOTH the President AND the Congress with a less than a 30% approval rating and a greater than 70% disapproval rating. The 11 who met at the White House candidly argued how continuation of policy was killing them in their home districts. Will they (and others) cross to join Democrats in overriding Bush? We are clearly in for a summer of discontent - and arm twisting.

We only TH*NK we know the history behind how we got to this quagmire in which we now find ourselves. We have already learned the original justifications for action in Iraq were not as represented. On one hand, subsequent justifications of building a real democracy in Iraq, building a lasting peace in the Middle East, and reconciling the Shias with the Sunnis with the Kurds - while altruistic – are about as believable as the justifications that this war and occupation is only about oil, about money, or about profits. The truth IS out there, but I honesty believe we haven’t heard very much if it – not yet anyway.

Historiography is a “history” of histories. While each generation may make its own history, each subsequent generation re-writes it to serve its own purposes. Did any (outside) force in all of written history really bring peace, love, and harmony to the Holy Lands of the Middle East - ever? The British? The Ottoman Turks? The Crusaders? Mohammad? Jesus the Christ? The Romans? The Sanhedrin? Pontius Pilate may have taken the only sane approach when he publicly washed his hands of the riotous situation he faced in 34 AD. I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright 2007 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved.


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