Monday, January 29, 2007

Lieberman (and Bush) Again Debase the Debate

Juan Williams of National Public Radio interviewed Bush earlier today.

MR. WILLIAMS: Now, you've got a vote tomorrow in the Senate to consider a
resolution opposing the troop buildup. Vice President Cheney said last week that
vote would validate the insurgents' strategy. And so, do you agree?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, there's a lot of strong opinions about it. My
attitude is – my feeling to the Senate echoes what Joe Lieberman said the other
day – Senator Joe Lieberman – and that is it is ironic that the Senate would
vote 81 to nothing to send a general into Iraq who believes he needs more troops
to do the job and then send a contradictory message.
The junior Senator from Connecticut has become BushCheney's security blanket, virtually their only argument to counter the perception (a perception confirmed by the polls and by overwhelming Congressional opposition) that support for the escalation is pathetically weak. Their repeated invocations of Lieberman's support have become almost incantatory. Indeed, Lieberman's preposterous syllogism alleging some contradiction between opposing the escalation but confirming Petraeus has become an official White House/neocon talking point. Is one obliged to oppose Petraeus's appointment merely because he is willing to implement Bush's escalation policy? Isn't the Senate obliged to confirm the General they believe most capable of implementing Bush's policy, however flawed? Were the Senate to reject Petraeus, would Bush respond by submitting for confirmation another General who opposes the escalation? If not, blocking Petraeus's appointment would accomplish nothing other than subjecting our military to a period of rudderlessness while chaos continues to sweep Iraq.

This is just another example of how the BushCheney adminisration, with the assistance of Lieberman, continues to debase the Iraq debate by resorting to transparently fallacious and political attacks on anyone opposing yet another increase in troop levels on the eminently reasonable basis that all prior increases have failed to effect any meaningful and lasting improvement in Iraq.

Did the White House argue that it would be inconsistent to confirm John Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court if one disagreed with Roberts' positions on judicial issues? Does the White House really mean to suggest that it would be a contradiction to vote to confirm any Bush appointee to the executive branch merely because that appointee will implement Bush policy? The very notion is absurd in the extreme, a fundamental misreading of the Congressional prerogative to advise and consent. And yet Bush in his NPR interview is arguing precisely this, echoing Lieberman's moronic assertion that one is guilty of inconsistency unless one believes that policy differences with the Administration should be pursued by blocking Bush appointees, no matter how qualified or competent, in some misguided, scorched-earth attempt to bring the entire executive branch (and in this case the very prosecution of the war) to a screeching halt.

I obviously oppose Bush's ridiculous escalation, but even I would have to concede that blocking Petraeus's appointment on the basis of nothing more than opposition to the escalation would be the height of irresponsibility, and perhaps even a vindication of BushCheney's and Lieberman's disgusting insinuation that opponents of the escalation wish for it to fail.

Of all Lieberman's sins, this is perhaps the greatest. He has consistently sought to delegitimize the quintessentially American right to dissent from government policy by equating it with disloyalty and intellectual dishonesty. His silly attempt to argue some contradiction in confirming Petraeus, thereby demeaning the Senate's proper exercise of its powers, is just another example of this disgraceful tactic.

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