Sunday, February 18, 2007

Abysmal Punditry

The quality of US political punditry is abysmal.

It is one thing to misunderstand the dynamics of war or public opinion, quite another to fail to grasp US parliamentary procedure. The Democrats control both houses of Congress. There is no procedure that allows the Republicans to introduce legislation to support the President's position in the House and no way to bring it to the floor for debate in the Senate.

Reading the op-eds in the US press and the bobbleheads on TV one would think that the reverse was the case, that the Democrats are the opposition not the majority.

The establishment media in the US has become adicted to presenting every story in narrative. That is not a problem when the narrative being presented is real. All to often however the narrative is an artificial one. The Clinton impeachment was presented in terms of the Watergate scandal despite the almost comical difference in the seriousness of the charges. The Iraq war does not fit any narrative the establishment media cares to repeat so we get wall to wall coverage of Anna Nichole Smith instead.

If the Democrats need to they can certainly break a filibuster. They have plenty of time and the Republicans are the ones who do not want wall to wall debate on Iraq. But it makes no sense to go to the effort of breaking a filibuster for a non-binding resolution.

Sentiment in the country now runs strongly against the war by two to one. The consensus in the Beltway Establishment continues to run in the opposite direction. If the Establishment was less self-absorbed the pundits would recognize that they are completely out of step with the country and that the outrage they predict for defying an unpopular, discredited President is simply not going to appear.

The Democrats will pass a bill that funds the troops that Bush has asked for but attaches conditions that nobody can argue against. Such as requiring all troops to be fully equiped with body armor, armored transport etc. before deployment. Such as limiting callups, tours of duty, use of the National guard.

The Whitehouse has little choice but to either accept the right of Congress to use the power of the purse or to create a constitutional crisis when it is already weak.

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