Nancy Pelosi's reign as first female Speaker of the House of Representatives (leader of Congress), and as the Democratic Party's de facto leader, is marked by FAILURE. Speaker Pelosi had one option open to her to restrain the power of the Bush White House without making the Democrats look like "cut and runners" fleeing from the Iraq war: she could COORDINATE and FOCUS the many congressional INVESTIGATIONS into CRIMINAL CONDUCT by the Bush administration, FORCING the press and media to cover those hearings and report on White House transgressions, leading to an IMPEACHMENT of the president for "High Crimes and Misdemeanors."
Ms. Pelosi not only took "impeachment off the table" (breaking the cardinal Washington political rule of "Power: USE it or LOOSE it"), but went OUT OF HER WAY to UNDERCUT coordination and prosecution of those investigations. Even when embattled Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald took on the role of David vs. the Philistine White House (that is, Fitzgerald taking on the ENTIRE powers of the federal government at the disposal of President Bush or Vice President Cheney) and came back with a magnificent legal victory: PROVING that there was PERJURY and OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE at the very top tiers of the White House (what is seldom remarked on is that Lewis "Scooter" Libby was one of the President's SENIOR ADVISORS at the same time he was the Vice President's most senior advisor, or Chief of Staff) , Speaker Pelosi PRETENDED NOT TO NOTICE! and effectively ALLOWED President Bush to write a conditional pardon (a "commutation of sentence" which preserved Mr. Libby's 5th Amendment rights, which a pardon would not have done) WITH NO POLITICAL COST.
Likewise, Speaker Pelosi has ALLOWED the PERJURY, OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE, CIA agent 'outing' scandal; Iraq war contracts; distortions-to-war; Torture, and other Congressional investigations to be relegated to BACK PAGE NEWS, as the media can now focus on its favorite subjects, America's imperial military might (huge contracts for American defense corporations which filter down to America's media conglomerates, i.e., Boeing and Lockheed-Martin 'soft advertisements' on local TV) and the 2008 election HORSE RACE. The media loves to cover a "he said, she said" horse race, because it is easy: merely invite a candidate or analyst in to the production studios, and ask them questions on their policy positions and agenda. THAT'S IT! That's the media's total cost for covering a horse-race election, apart from hiring a few "experts" and talking heads to spin the race in the network's favor, and airing some video footage of local campaign events. Far, far easier than sending reporters and production teams to distant, dangerous locations. Also, we humans are biologically predisposed to look at faces. There is compelling drama in a human face that even explosions and war footage cannot supplant. As every movie director knows, the close-up and cut-in are the keys to a good movie - and the networks well understand that putting faces on the small screen is all it takes to draw viewer attention.
For these reasons, Nancy Pelosi has completely fallen into the "best possible outcome" scenario of the Bush-Cheney-Rove White House. Impeachment is forever off the table as America races towards election 2008; the conduct if not crimes that warranted impeachment are "back page news" if not already forgotten; the president has wielded his PARDON pen unmolested, and will do so again; Congressional investigators (Waxman, Conyers, etc.) now look like clowns in a three-ring circus, from the sheer overwhelming number of investigations they are running, if not because their conclusions will be toothless (no impeachment); the Republican VOTE STEALING machines and methods are still in place, and American public can no longer tolerate the arcane and disjointed investigations into those many methods and tactics (again, without the coordination and direction of small investigations into a larger whole, the public can not pay attention indefinitely); and even President Bush's party hack replacements for PURGED prosecutors remain in place, with the sole exception of Tim Griffin, who resigned in disgrace as US Attorney for Arkansas when it was disclosed that not only was he Karl Rove's assistant, but that his entire legal career had included not one single prosecution.
Today, not only has Speaker Pelosi FAILED to enact JUSTICE against the many wrongdoings of the Bush-Cheney White House, but she has thus prepared the ground for future Republicans to LAY THE BLAME FOR THE IRAQ DEBACLE - on DEMOCRATS.
Pelosi: General Patraeus' plan effectively means TEN MORE YEARS OF WAR. (She is CORRECT about that.)
General Patraeus MISLEADS in his Congressional testimony: The Iraq army and police are some of the WORST ELEMENTS of the Iraq problem:
America as "the new Rome" - << These days, in the imperial America of George W Bush, all you have to do is stave off total disaster and make the case that the troops should stay in a faraway country even longer. >>
Like the Clintons in the 1996 reelection campaign, Representative Pelosi has become MESMERIZED by the Democrat's ability to RAISE MONEY, in this case because of an unpopular war and administration. But the Clinton's wallowing in fundraising and cash in the mid-90's left them open to the most sensational Right-Wing accusations - that they had "sold out to China" ("TREASON!") for Chinese money
Even those Americans who didn't believe the "Treason!" accusations looked with scorn on the Clinton's fundraising neediness. (Yesterday, Hillary Cliton was forced to return $850,000 to donors "bundled" by a tainted campaign fundraiser, giving more ammunition for the Hillary-haters out there.)
Speaker Pelosi and other Democrats need to realize that there is more to leadership than fundraisers, looking pretty, and winning popularity contests. Sometimes you must FORCE the media to look in dark corners, and GO OUT ON A LIMB to PROSECUTE government misconduct, as Patrick Fitzgerald did. Speaker Pelosi took the most powerful arrow in the congressional quiver (impeachment) broke it, and threw it on the ground before she was even inaugurated, and then NEGLECTED to coordinate and FOCUS the many investigations into impeachable offenses, thereby making those investigations look useless, petty, mean, partisan, vindictive, and wasteful.
Indeed, Speaker Pelosi has almost completely duplicated the great failure of the incoming 1993 Clinton administration, as detailed in Chapter 1. of Robert Parry's book, "Secrecy and Privilege." Parry notes that in 1993 there were a HOST of high-level CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS into the previous Republican administrations (Bush Sr. and Reagan), but that starting in 1993 President Clinton effectively pulled the rug out from under those investigations: THEREBY EMPOWERING Republican critics to throw accusations and investigations against his own administration!
The history of the Democratic Party, post Watergate, may well be that it has utterly failed to reign in the worst impulses of an imperial, unaccountable government, because every time the Democrats were in a position to push a successful criminal prosecution to its full political outcome, they refused to do so, by undercutting the prosecution.
And now, as the America media and political parties race to election 2008, it will be up to individual candidates to make up the slack - in impossibility, given the media's tendency to hyper-examine if not distort Democratic candidates' positions and comments - and the Bush administration remains in full control over the ENTIRE federal government and bureaucracy, including UNCONTESTED CONTROL of the US military and nuclear arsenal.
Having undercut the prosecutions of criminal misconduct by the Bush administration, will Speaker Pelosi's 110th Congress now go down in history as the Congress that DID NOTHING to stop the US-Iran war?
Retreat of the (Antiwar) Democrats
by Patrick Buchanan
Tue Sep 11, 2001
In November 2006, Republicans were voted out of power in the Congress and Democrats installed to bring an end to U.S. involvement in the war in Iraq.
The war had been going on as long as America's war on Nazi Germany. No end was in sight. U.S. casualties and costs were rising. Bush's approval rating had sunk to record lows.
The day after the GOP rout, Bush cashiered his war minister, Donald Rumsfeld. In December, the Iraq Study Group, chaired by Bush I Secretary of State James Baker, released its report.
"The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. ... A slide toward chaos could trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian disaster. ... The situation in Baghdad and several provinces is dire. ... Pessimism is pervasive. ... Violence is increasing in scope, complexity and lethality."
His policy collapsing, Bush made a last throw of the dice. Gen. David Petraeus was named to command U.S. forces, and his request for a "surge" of 21,500 additional U.S. troops accepted. Petraeus also demanded and got 10,000 more support troops.
Still, by April, as the "surge" brigades began to arrive, Harry Reid, Senate majority leader, was declaring, "This war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything." Democrats, the party base goading them on, tried to impose upon Bush, as a condition of further funding for the war, deadlines for the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
Bush vetoed the bill. He was sustained. Then, he rubbed the Democrats' noses in their defeat by demanding and getting $100 billion more to finance the surge and the war. There are today 30,000 more troops in Iraq than when the Democratic Congress was elected.
As Petraeus testifies, the antiwar movement appears broken. Reid has said his party will not try to de-fund the war or impose new deadlines. It will follow GOP Sen. John Warner, who has suggested it might be helpful if the president withdrew a brigade by Christmas, to signal the Iraqi government to get its house in order. Petraeus has agreed to that.
Next April is the date when the Iraq Study Group said all U.S. combat brigades should be out of Iraq. By then, Bush and Petraeus will have tens of thousands more troops in Iraq than when the Democrats were elected and the ISG reported. The lame duck is not all that lame.
What happened to the party of Speaker Pelosi and Reid, which was going to end U.S. involvement in the war and not permit Bush to pursue victory the way Richard Nixon pursued it in Vietnam for four years?
Answer: Terrified of the possible consequences of the policies they recommend, Democrats lack the courage to impose those policies.
When it comes to issues of war, Democrats are an intimidated lot. Sens. Clinton, Edwards, Biden, Dodd and Reid were all stampeded by Bush into voting him a blank check for war in October 2002. Why? Because they feared Bush would declare them weak or unpatriotic if they denied him the authority to go to war, at a time of his choosing, until he had made a more compelling case for war.
Now they regret what they did. But, in a showdown, they will do it again. For Democrats have been psychologically damaged by 60 years of GOP attacks on them as the party of retreat and surrender.
Their hero, FDR, was posthumously ripped apart for Yalta, the appeasement of "Uncle Joe," and the abandonment to communism of Poland and Eastern Europe. Truman fired Gen. MacArthur, fought a no-win war in Korea and was savaged, along with Gen. Marshall and Dean Acheson, by Joe McCarthy. By 1952, Truman was at 23 percent and finished. In January 1954, the Tailgunner was riding high at 50 percent.
Came then Vietnam and the credible charge that the Liberal Establishment, The Best and the Brightest, had marched us in, then cut and run, abandoning our Vietnamese and Cambodian allies to a holocaust, and bringing on the worst strategic defeat in U.S. history.
When Ronald Reagan, in the closing days of the 1980 campaign, declared Vietnam a "noble cause," the liberal media leapt on it as a gaffe. It wasn't. Reagan was wired in to Middle America.
John Kerry understood this. Thus, he ran in 2004 as a decorated Vietnam vet, not the onetime icon of the antiwar movement.
Bush is winning today because he has jettisoned the jabber about global democracy and argues that a U.S. withdrawal risks a strategic disaster, national humiliation, massacre of our friends and triumph for al-Qaida. Democrats, fearing he may be right, are in paralysis.
Scourged for 20 years over "Who Lost China?" they don't want to spend the next 20 years answering "Who Lost the Middle East?"
Thus the rout of the peace Democrats. But the movement will be back. For, Petraeus' good news notwithstanding, there is no light yet visible at the end of this tunnel.
To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.