The Democrats took back the House and the Senate. Thank goodness that they did. The specifics of party and party ideologies don’t really matter. The party in power, over the course of the Bush presidency, has done so much to merit scorn that maintenance of the status quo would’ve marked a terrible lack in the American people’s capacity to hold their government to any standards. There’s a great comfort that we can take whenever power changes hands in Washington: the democracy is still working.
It’s painful to relive all the great failures that have led us to the point where we are now: the Schiavo affair, Bush’s stem cell funding ban, the New Orleans catastrophe, and of course what has proven to be the overwhelming issue of this election and of the past several years: Iraq.
The War in Iraq was defined by men sitting in their offices on Capitol Hill and telling themselves exactly what they wanted to hear. More and more evidence about the planning and run-up to the war is becoming available, and it seems increasingly that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld invented WMDs because they wanted to find them. Other eyes would have, and in fact did, find that out of the 978 sites that the Bush Administration and CIA identified as possible WMD stockpiles or facilities, not even a single one could be described as definitely having WMDs. Not one of those 978 cases had much more than a dozen pages of intelligence associated with it, much of that intelligence being composed of satellite photos and interviews with well-paid turncoats. Hardly a slam dunk.
And yet we had Dick Cheney explaining that, “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” Who were we to disbelieve him? We, the public, did not have access to the secret intelligence that Cheney and the President had access to.
It was the responsibility of Congress, and in particular the party in control of Congress to act as our representatives and demand accountability on the part of the administration. But our representatives were busy at the time; they were busy ‘energizing the base’ by seeking to deny civil rights to gays, build a fence along the border, etcetera. Is it really a surprise that they don’t represent us anymore?
Unfortunately, we didn’t solve any of our problems by renouncing those who created them. Iraq, Afghanistan, New Orleans, North Korea, Iran– they’re all still on our plate and we don’t really have compelling solutions to any of them. There aren’t likely to be any compelling solutions for the next two years. Bush is likely to spend his remaining time picking petty quarrels with the Democrats who, as far as he’s concerned, didn’t exist until about two weeks ago. The best we can hope for out of the next two years is to catch up on some of the oversight that has been non-existent during the past six. We can hope that the shake-up in Bush’s cabinet means that he is actually willing to pursue intelligent realistic policies. At the very least, Republicans will stop talking about ‘victory’ in Iraq; they’ve already failed. As others have said, our options now range from unpleasant to intolerable.Powered by Sidelines