Friday, December 07, 2007

Is The System Working?

Andrew Sullivan had a piece at his blog The Daily Dish the other day titled The System is Working. I would love to be able to say that I agree with his piece in it’s entirety, and I can say that I don’t entirely disagree with it. But I don’t think that the final chapter in this saga has been written yet.

The Democrats may not have stopped the war, but they helped shift its course. That, in turn, saved the war in Iraq from becoming a complete disaster. Now it's merely a rescuable disaster.

I’m not sure in what way the Democrats helped shift the course of the war and to say at this point that it is rescuable is certainly hopeful but is, I think, far from certain at this point. We may safely say that it may be rescuable and that absolutely is a turn for the better, but Sullivan doesn’t say precisely how the Democrats helped get us to that point and he has very little company in his certainty on the rescuability issue. As much as I would like to be, I am not in that company.

But my roster of those who helped get us back toward a rational war-policy would put Bob Gates and David Petraeus at the top of the list.

Bob Gates certainly. David Petraeus has always been a Bush mouthpiece and it is far too early to tell whether his current strategies, such as enlisting and arming former enemies, will prove successful in the long run. Certainly his first two assignments in Iraq were short term successes and long term disasters, and we can only hope at this point that his third one will turn out any better than the first two did.

Mukasey has a chance to do the same kind of thing at Justice.

But will he? The fact that he has a chance to do so is not evidence, to me, that the system is working. In fact, he went to very nearly the same lengths to cover Bush’s backside in his confirmation hearings that Gonzales did in his hearings, so I’m somewhat less than sanguine.

The system that looked rather fragile for a couple of years has begun to assert itself again. It works.

Congressional oversight is, so far, little more than a farce. I take that back: it is nothing more than a farce. Hearing after hearing with not one person held to account, removed from office or convicted of wrongdoing. Just enough to serve the political purposes of the party in power without triggering revenge from the party which is currently in the minority.

The Democratic Congress has made no attempt to restore any of the civil liberties abrogated by this administration, or to restore any of its own power usurped by this president.

And if the president is wise, he'll allow all this to shift, and take some of the credit.

You just have to laugh at that pipe dream. The one thing this president has never been accused of is wisdom. He has always been and will always be an ideologue and will pursue his personal goals monomaniacally.

And if the country is wise, they'll pick a successor who can unite the country around a prudent path forward.

Has Sullivan read or listened to any part of the presidential primaries? Uniting the country is the very last thing on the mind of any of the major candidates, and prudent paths forward have not been proposed by any one of them. They are without exception fearmongering in the mold of the current president and preaching about leaving “no options off the table” in the name of keeping us safe from something that has not harmed us in the last six years.

Statements beginning "if the president is wise","if the country is wise" and "Mukasey has a chance" are not probative of one's cause in writing an article titled The System is Working. They are nothing more or less than wishful thinking.

The system may yet work and, yes, there are a few signs that it is beginning to stir into life. I want it to do so, and I certainly have hope that it will. But this administration still has a full year left in office, and this Congress is still behaving in a manner more self serving than constructive.

The lawyers have finished, and the jury is still out.

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