"We have not all had the good fortune to be ladies. We have not all been generals, or poets, or statesmen; but when the toast works down to the babies, we stand on common ground." -- Mark Twain
The work and product of the last Congress, and that of the preceding republican-run Congresses was not driven by any principle that wasn't first trumped by the irresistible, naked opportunity for Republicans to do whatever they pleased legislatively. Their reign was effectively unassailable with their party in full control of all three branches of our government, and they used that control to ram through every initiative and appropriation that had been conceived by the right-wing during their exile from the majority and was festering on their corporate sponsored wish list while they were out of power.
The election of Bush and Cheney was a watershed for their right-wing, corporatist party as the reliable Democratic watchdog at the top was replaced with a crooked, compliant gatekeeper. There have been zero vetoes of Republican legislation from the Bush White House in the entirety of his term. With the enabling help of his permissive Republican majority, Bush was able to direct our nation's defenses in whatever direction he wanted, whenever he made a move. Two sovereign nations were invaded and occupied with almost no chance that even a unified Democratic opposition could overcome the lockstep republican majority's unwillingness to confront Bush on the limits and scope of his militarism and hold him accountable.
There were no republican initiatives to direct, influence, or pressure Bush in any way about his dubious, faltering mission in Iraq. For the almost four years since the initial invasion, Republicans have been mostly supportive of Bush's handling of his Iraq fiasco, always affording Bush room to do whatever he wanted in Iraq without any possibility they would publicly or privately oppose his authority in any way. There was some nervous backpedaling during the last election from Republicans with just enough vision to see their own fortunes fading as their Democratic opponents were ascending, and who nitpicked around the edges of Bush's 'stay-the-course' strategy just enough to mollify angry voters demanding an exit from Iraq.
There were a few whose rhetoric rose to the level of reality necessary to force other nervous Republicans - who could see their fortunes fading as well - to craft exit strategies to present to their seemingly suicidal politicos in the White House. Those Republicans did their president a service in showing Bush the right way to approach the high horse they wanted him to ride out of Iraq, but they couldn't even convince him to mount it. They get credit for having enough sense to try to save their own hides, and for trying to save those ignorant asses in their party who have completely wed themselves to Bush's fiasco; nothing more.
The entire political equation changed, however, when Bush brought his Iraq 'plan' out of hiding and presented it to the nation and the world. Bush's Plan for Iraq is an escalation of his fiasco. That's quite the opposite of what voters demanded in the November election when they removed his legislative majority in Congress and replaced it with Democrats opposed to continuing the occupation. Bush's answer to the call for an exit from Iraq was to proclaim that, in his "ideological struggle," "failure was not an option," despite conceding in the same breath that his ideological occupation was already failing "slowly."
More Republicans began to jump ship after Bush's announcement that he intended to escalate his occupation and send even more soldiers to fight and die in Iraq. Their words against Bush's escalation will be measured by the actions they take in removing the false authority they gave Bush to prosecute his Iraq diversion. Just petitioning Bush to bring our soldiers home will not completely undo the Iraq folly they allowed with their four years of silence, but they still have a chance to save some lives if they can stand firm on this one principle and force their president's hand. That should be enough for them. It will be enough for me to put aside my anger and revulsion toward their earlier support for Bush's bloody occupation if they step up now and unequivocally denounce the occupation and demand its end.
Two such repentant Republicans have made a bold bid for their chance to save some lives in Iraq by agreeing to put their names beside their Democratic colleagues on a resolution which opposes Bush's planned escalation. The non-binding resolution says that Bush's occupation of Iraq "can only be sustained" with the support of the American public as expressed by Congress.
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R), who called Bush's policy presentation "dangerously irresponsible," has announced his intention to join with Democrats in supporting this first strike at Bush's contrived authority to commit more forces to his Iraq debacle. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R), joined Hagel today in supporting the resolution, becoming the second Senate Republican to join Democrats in legislatively opposing Bush's escalation in Iraq.
There are some who would take this opportunity to castigate these Senators for their initial enabling support of Bush in his invasion and occupation of Iraq, and in other pernicious support they practiced for the lame-duck loser in the White House during the entirety of his term. However, I would rather we took this opportunity to open the door wide and provide all the room necessary for other Republican enablers to throw off their yokes and stand up for the will of the American people to end the Iraq fiasco by lining up alongside our Democratic party members and repudiate their president's made-up authority to commit our troops and our nation to continuing his Iraq failure.
This is truly an opportunity for Republicans - which will not come again for them - to do the right thing by Iraq and by our nation's faithful defenders, and pull the rug out from under their presidential pretender's ability to perpetuate his Iraq folly. The chaos that concerns everyone today in Iraq will only deepen as the warring factions there are being encouraged by Bush to begin yet another round of military muckraking through their rival's communities. This will be the last opportunity for Congress to put the Iraq failure directly in Bush's lap, where it belongs. This will be the Republican's, and others', last chance to stand up and move away from Bush before he's made to account for the lives he's deliberately squandered in his ambitious grab for power and influence in the wake of the 9-11 attacks.
This is an opportunity for our Democratic party, as well, to begin to reach out to sympathetic Republicans who would openly oppose Bush's drive to 'win' something in Iraq behind the sacrifice of our soldiers' lives and livelihoods. Even in their support of a non-binding resolution, there will be the specter of Bush's own party repudiating him and directing him to change course. If Bush then chooses to ignore the publicly recorded wishes of his former republican enablers, he will open his presidency up to more calls for his impeachment - this time from both sides of the aisle.
We should celebrate these republican defectors, for a time. They will be remembered for their courage in standing up to their defective leader when the bulk of their peers chose to turn their backs on the death and destruction in Iraq , hoping to preserve their political sweet spots behind their warmongering leader. Here's to these defenders of democracy, here's to these Republican patriots who've decided that their country and the well-being of our nation's defenders are more important to defend than the will and whim of their defective commander-in chief. Here's to all of the rest who find their own courage to follow their enlightened colleagues in demanding an end to Bush's immoral occupation.