"Power is poison. Its effect on Presidents had always been tragic." -- Adams
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gave a "pre-buttal" yesterday to Bush's SOTU address next Tuesday night which provided a defensive White House with an opportunity to play a little political offense. The most interesting thing about their attack on the Democratic leaders' statements was how much they zeroed in on our new House Speaker. It is, of course, a reflection of the strength and effectiveness of Nancy Pelosi's leadership which has compelled the White House to single her statements out for scrutiny and criticism. It will be the White House's undoing if they choose to continue to defend their escalation of their Iraq occupation by parsing the Speaker's criticisms with patronizing attacks.
Speaker Pelosi gave her sharp rebuke of Bush's rush to deploy troops ahead of the impending congressional response to his planned escalation, and the White House played dumb. Bush knows the new Congress is busy lining up a number of rebukes to his Iraq Plan. And he's well aware of the opposition of majority of Americans who voted in the last election to remove his republican enablers and replaced them with a Democratic majority pledged to end the occupation and bring our soldiers home. Despite knowing that, Bush is determined to ramp up his occupation and subvert the will of the people, because, he's the 'decider' and he's decided.
Speaker Pelosi said out loud Friday, in answering reporters questions, what is obvious to everyone who has watched Bush subvert the will of Congress with 'signing statements' declaring that his Executive branch will exercise whatever authority they imagine without regard to the letter or intent of the laws that he approves with his signature - the very laws he's sworn to defend and uphold. Rep. Pelosi called Bush out on his rush to escalate the occupation in the face of the clear calls for an exit plan.
"The president knows that because the troops are in harm's way that we won't cut off the resources," Speaker Pelosi said. "That's why he's moving so quickly to put them in harm's way."
The White House sent out Dana Perino, their deputy press secretary, to cry foul at Rep. Pelosi's suggestion that Bush was playing politics by manipulating the deployments.
"Speaker Pelosi was arguing in essence that the president is putting young men and women in harm's way for tactical political reasons," Perino said. "She's questioning his motivations rather than questioning his policies . . . The one thing you can say about President Bush is that he's not moving forward with this new plan because he thinks it is popular. He is doing it because he thinks it is right," she explained.
I guess it's too much expect this duplicitous White House to acknowledge their own hypocrisy, but they can't have forgotten already that 6 days ago National Security Adviser Hadley let the cat out of the bag on MTP about the rush to deploy before Congress could act.
RUSSERT: "If Congress decides to cut off funds for the new troops being deployed to Iraq, will the president accept that decision by Congress and abide by it?"
HADLEY: "Tim, we're not there yet. We have funds in the '07 appropriations bill to deploy these troops. I think once they get in harm's way, Congress' tradition is to support those troops . . ."
Perino was at least honest about Bush's disregard of the will of the American people. Clear majorities of those Americans polled before and after the election have said they think the occupation should end. Along with their repudiation of Bush's occupation, they also have completely rejected Bush's argument that Iraq should be the 'center' of his manufactured 'war on terror'. Perino made it clear, as Bush has, that he's 'moving forward' with his occupation because he's decided that he knows better than the majority of Americans about what our military should be defending, and what our soldiers should be fighting and dying for.
From the beginning of Bush's Iraq invasion, he's insisted that there was something there which threatened our national security. From his claims of WMDs, to his claims of Saddam's links to the 9-11 terrorists, Bush has been repudiated by the facts on the ground, and has responded by shifting his justifications for continuing the occupation. Defense of 'democracy' in the form of the new Iraqi regime is the latest, most enduring of his excuses for remaining bogged down in the middle of the warring factions. It's a convenient excuse which allows him to claim some future threat to our security if his puppet regime happens to fall to one of the resisting Iraqi factions.
It's a dubious excuse to project the worst outcome of ending his own fiasco, since 16 of his own intelligence agencies concluded that his occupation was, itself, the fuel and motivation for the increase in those individuals in Iraq who would harm the U.S., our allies, or our interests. It's more than incredible for them to claim that some potential threat to the U.S. from Iraq - that they've, anyway, fostered and aggravated with their continuing occupation - would be worse if we removed the admitted primary cause, our destabilizing presence there.
Bush and his generals have predicted an increase in the killings of American soldiers and others in Iraq if they go forward with their planned escalation - with no guarantee, except for Bush's discredited word, that the end result will be any decrease in the violence, or even enough room for their junta to 'succeed'. Removing our troops would allow the Maliki regime to carry out their planned reconciliation with those opposing their new government without the heavy hand of U.S. influence and power mucking up those relationships.
It seems almost suicidal for Bush to now be targeting different groups in Iraq for attack and confrontation when so much of the new regime's problems stem from the resisting Iraqi's deep resentment of America's role in their suppression. It almost seems as if Bush is intent on sandbagging any chance of reconciliation between the new regime and the opposition forces as he readies even more U.S. soldiers to deploy to Iraq, and to muckrake through Iraqi neighborhoods trying to intimidate those Iraqis who would violently resist.
Our Democratic leaders have no obligation to follow Bush's lead as he deploys our soldiers to Iraq. This new majority of Democrat was elected, for the most part, to end the Iraq occupation and stifle Bush's strident militarism. They've been as clear and straightforward about that intention, as Bush has been clear in his determination to ignore the will of Congress and the American people as he "moves forward" with his occupation.
Speaker Pelosi has drawn attention to Bush's unilateral determination to escalate his Iraq occupation before Congress has a chance to weigh in with restricting legislation they've promised for weeks. Having admitted that he put off his 'critical review' of his Iraq policy until after November of last year because he didn't want the elections to 'interfere' -- and again for 7 weeks after the elections so he could go on a 'listening tour' -- Bush has no excuse for hurrying troops into Iraq to implement his already unpopular Plan. The rush of troops into Iraq ahead of congressional action is the same type of naked politics Bush has practiced all throughout his presidency with the help of his presumptive majority of republican rubber-stamps.
This time there's a Democratic gatekeeper at the head of the House of Representatives who intends to hold Bush accountable for unilaterally furthering his discredited occupation behind the sacrifices of the additional troops he's insisting on deploying into the middle of Iraq's civil war. Speaker Pelosi caught Bush playing politics with our soldiers in Iraq and called him on it. Bush's mouthpiece, Perino, called her comments "poison", but it's really Bush who's the one taking the bait.
Henry Adams, a U.S. historian, once said, that, to presidents, "power is poison." It will be the swift unraveling of Bush's petty reign if he continues to send his lackeys out to taunt the new Speaker as he turns his back on her and hurries forward with his Iraq folly, in spite of her admonitions against the escalation. Soon Speaker Pelosi and her new majority will produce a legislative rebuke to Bush's on Iraq which will have the support of more than a few republican defectors. If Bush keeps acting like he's emperor and continues to ignore Congress, he's just going to put himself at the further mercy of Speaker Pelosi, who now reigns supreme at the head of the house in which impeachment originates.