Thursday, February 08, 2007

President vs. Congress - Round Four & Five

I thought this might happen. The boxing metaphor is just not cutting it. This is clearly a World Wrestling Federation Tag-Team Steel Cage Tournament. A brief recap for those keeping score:

Round 1- Declared a draw, while bipartisan congressional tag-teams formed and warmed up for their matches with the executive branch. In an exhibition match, Every member of the Senate Armed Services Committee took turns repeatedly body slamming Secretary of State Condi Rice to the mat.

Round 2 - A split decision for the executive branch, when the President effectively took advantage of the superior gravitas, weight and arm-reach that is incumbent in the office and secured the decision over feisty challenger Jim Webb during the State of the Union speech.

Round 3 - Awarded to the Congress. The executive got slammed with a potent right/left legislative combination delivered by Senators Warner, Levin, Hagel and Biden. Dual Resolutions opposing the surge hit the Senate floor with a near 3-count pin of the presidential Iraq strategy. In a display of legislative muscle, unhappy with the peformance of his team, Chuck Hagel picked the entire Senate up over his head, performed a triple helicopter spin, and threw them completely out of the ring.
That brings us to Round 4. A surprising one-on-one challenge match. The President moved quickly to re-establish the SOTU momentum for the executive branch with a quick take-down of the legislature in an impromptu press conference featuring the newly confirmed General David Petraeus:
Q: Thank you, sir. The other night in your State of the Union address, you asked Congress to give your plan a chance. But lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, didn't really miss a step in starting to turn out resolutions against that plan. Why do you think it's okay to go ahead without their support?

THE PRESIDENT: One of the things I've found in Congress is that most people recognize that failure would be a disaster for the United States. And in that I'm the decision maker, I had to come up with a way forward that precluded disaster. In other words, I had to think about what's likely to work.

With a nifty jiu-jitsu move, Legislative authority was re-asserted by Senator Arlin Spector (R-Penn), who once again reinforced that this is truly a constitutional battle royale between co-equal branches of government, and not a polarized partisan dust-up:
"Specter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, pushed back against Bush's claim he is the "decision maker," saying the White House needs to accept Congress's role in shaping war policy. "I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole decider," Specter said during a hearing on Congress's war powers. "The decider is a shared and joint responsibility."
Specter is simply asserting an obvious statement of fact. Nevertheless, it kicked up the usual mindless knee-jerk reaction from the ragged blogospheric right. Their disdain for reality based policies and politics is very worrisome for those of us who would like to see Divided Goverment extended past 2008, which stae requires that Republicans maintain the White House in 2008. The clearest indicator and most amusing aspect of this disconnect from reality is the misguided and impotent "NRSC Pledge" petition effort. The adherents apparently believe that a 50,000 signature on-line petition somehow trumps the mid-term election results (where the Republicans lost the majority in the Senate while squandering an overwhelming structural advantage in 2006). Round 4 - Legislature on a TKO.

Round 5 was a conducted under the auspices of a Legislative WrestleMania Pay-per-view event back in the steel cage of the Senate early this week. The Executive Branch pounced with a masterful procedural partisan pretzel-hold on the Republicans in the Senate, while Democrats were caught off balance in an inexplicable twisting head-up-the-ass posture. The complexity of the pretzel-hold confounded even the most experienced partisan wrestling fans, and its intricate leverage is still being analyzed and discussed. Some of the internal tension of the pretzel-hold was visible in this exchange between Democrat Joe Lieberman and Republicans John Warner and Chuck Hagel (note:Rated M for Mature Language):

An amplification and documentation of a detail in this video is merited. In his Monday speech on the Senate floor, Joe Lieberman rants against John Warner's non-binding resolution characterizing it as ambiguous and inconsistent, supporting the troops but undermining the mission. In his reply to Lieberman, Hagel alludes to other non-binding resolutions, which led me to Non-Binding Joint Senate Resolution 44 from December, 1995 -"Concerning the Deployment of United States Armed Forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina." Some resolution excerpts:
  • Section 1) Expresses support for the troops saying "The Congress unequivocally supports the men and women of our Armed Forces who are carrying out their missions in support of peace in Bosnia"
  • Section 2) Questions President Clinton's mission for the troops starting with "...reservations expressed about President Clinton's decision to deploy United States Armed Forces to Bosnia and Herzegovina." and further specifies limitations on the deployment ordered by the President including a hard one year timeframe for certain conditions to be met.
  • Sections 3, 4 & 5) Requires the President to regularly report on specific timeframes, starting in 30 days with details on everything from progress in training Bosnia security, to refugees, to costs, to war plan details, and of course an exit strategy.
This non-binding resolution was co-sponsored by John McCain and Joe Lieberman. 69 Senators of both parties voted for it. Nuff said.

While the analysis and posturing continues unabated, no resolution challenging the escalation of the U.S. involvement in Iraq made it to the Senate floor. That makes Round 5 an unanimous decision for the President, but it may yet prove to be a pyrrhic victory for Republicans, ultimately costing more Senate seats.

In a post-script to Round 5 (and a preview of round 6) , Senator John Warner and six fellow Republican Senators formed an outlaw tag-team "Gang of Seven", and signed a letter to the Senate leadership threatening to put the entire Senate in a full nelson head-lock until their Resolution is debated.

The Washington Post reports:
"Democrats brushed off the Republicans' declaration as too little, too late. Reid spokesman Jim Manley said in a statement: "Senator Reid gave Senator Warner and the others a chance to vote for their own resolution on Monday, but only two of them chose to do so."
Too little too late? I don't think so. The Democrats have yet to remove their head from their collective ass.

UPDATE: February 12, 2007
Although tied up in an Executive pretzel hold, the Senate managed to reach through the ropes and tag their Congressional tag-team partner. Round 6 moves to the House of Representatives. Stay tuned...

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The more I hear from Lieberman, the less I like. Go Bush, Go Cheney, and take Lieberman with you!