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When Comity Turns to Tragic Comedy

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The Democrats in Congress have a lower approval rating than George Bush despite the fact that the Democrats have not broken any laws, tortured any prisoners, or stripped away the rights of any citizens. The reason is not too surprising - the Democrats were elected by a majority of Americans to investigate the reasons for going to war, and to begin undoing the mess that Bush and Cheney have put us in. But so far, the Democrats in Congress have resisted doing the hard things that are necessary to hold the administration accountable for their malfeasance.

What are the major reasons for the Democrats reticence?

The first is money. The Democrats are just as dependent on donations from large corporations whose lobbyists are swarming Washington like locust in a wheat field. Many of these corporations are defense manufacturers and contractors, and they are not about to let Democrats spoil their military contract gravy train. Even liberal Democrats like Ted Kennedy are putting multi-million dollar earmarks into bills to keep the money flowing to their donors. If the Democrats push an anti-war agenda too hard, they will lose all monetary support from the defense industry.

But that doesn’t explain the lack of investigations aimed at possible impeachment charges against Cheney and Bush. Theoretically, they could pursue impeachment while still funding the military, thus not jeopardizing their friendly connections to the military industrial complex.

I believe that the primary reasons for the lack of impeachment proceedings are a combination of concern about being perceived as too partisan (Hatfield/McCoy syndrome), and the fact that Democrats are still caught in the archaic Congressional mental trap known as “comity”. Comity is the notion, long ago abandoned by Republicans, that doing the people’s business was a cooperative effort requiring civility, and respect for other’s points of view. Indeed, the Republicans long ago abandoned all comity, and all decency in their interactions with Democrats in Congress, so it is a tad quaint that the Democrats are still locked in a 1950’s mindset where they think the Republicans will play fair, and respect the Democrat’s input. They don’t, and they won’t.

Democrats need to wake up, and realize that the Republicans will always play hard ball, and will do anything to pass their preferred legislation, while blocking the Democrats efforts by any means at their disposal. If Democrats intimate they might filibuster a terrible, partisan Supreme Court nominee, the Republicans bring up the “nuclear option” of eliminating all filibusters permanently. As soon as the Democrats suggest they might set a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the Republicans immediately rush to filibuster. No shame, no honesty, no decency, and certainly no comity.
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At this point the Democrat’s comity is becoming more like a tragic comedy than bipartisanship. Call your congressperson immediately and urge them to support HR 333, which is Dennis Kucinich’s bill to begin impeachment proceedings against Dick Cheney. Representative John Conyers has said if he gets three more co-signatures on HR 333 he will bring it before the House. It does not guarantee it will go forward or that it will get enough votes, but it needs to be done as soon as possible. While you're at it, urge your congressperson to invoke “inherent contempt” charges against Harriet Miers and bring her before the Congress to testify.

It's high time that the Democrats stop slathering comity all over the Republicans when they only get black eyes in return. Comity Schmomity… it's time for a bare knuckles fight.
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John R. Moffett PhD is a research neuroscientist in the Washington, DC area. Dr. Moffett's main area of research focuses on the brain metabolite N-acetylaspartate, and an associated genetic disorder known as Canavan disease.


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