Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A plan

A common talking point for conservatives lately is the claim that there's no Democratic agenda or plan.

I think that's false on a certain level.

At the Drinking Liberally last night Marci Francisco explained how the State Senate works. At 7:30 am, the Republicans caucus and set their agenda for the day. At around 9-9:30, the Democrats find out what's happening. Could the Democrats try to push their own agenda? Not really, not until the Republicans declare their intentions. There are 30 Republicans and 10 Democrats. The only way to get results is to make a coalition to obstruct or to modify a Republican plan. That's math, not ideology.

The same dynamic is at work in the federal Congress. It doesn't reflect a lack of commitment or plans, it's a matter of what someone can do under the circumstances.

If Democrats ran Congress, here's what would happen. There'd be a serious conversation about funding Medicare into the future. There'd be work on reducing the deficit. They'd reauthorize the Endangered Species Act.

Most importantly, there'd be real work on health insurance, a plan to fight terrorism abroad and secure our borders and potential targets here, and pressure for a real plan on Iraq. These are the most pressing issues of the day.

The degree to which Iraq has anything to do with terrorism is entirely dependent on the colossal failure that Iraq was from Day One (and even earlier). Until the invasion, it appears there was no serious terrorist presence in Iraq (except possibly for a base in the Kurdish controlled North, where we were free to operate).

Now Iraq is shaping up as a better training ground for terrorists than Afghanistan ever was. That's a problem, because the weapons that went unprotected for months after the invasion are killing American soldiers, and there's no guarantee that they aren't flowing to Europe, Israel and America. Some of those weapons are guns and ammo, some are RPGs, but there was also a major loss of plastic explosives. Plus, terrorists trained in Iraq are moving on to other battles. All bad things.

The first job of Congress should be oversight of Iraq, and taking a leadership role on its future. Until there's a native Iraqi government with public credibility, Americans will keep dying, our stock in the region will keep declining, and more terrorists will be produced. What should we do?
The day after burying their son, parents of a fallen Marine urged President Bush to either send more reinforcements to Iraq or withdraw U.S. troops altogether.

"We feel you either have to fight this war right or get out," Rosemary Palmer, mother of Lance Cpl. Edward Schroeder II, said Tuesday.
Should we just pull out? Maybe. Democracy is messy, and as long as our forces are in Iraq, it's too easy for everyone to unite against us, rather than finding a series of internal vectors (as suggested by Publius) which can all oppose one another and find a satisfactory indigenous political solution to Iraq's future.

That won't happen without a shift in power.