Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lugar, Domenici, and..."I Told You So?"

Lugar Snowe Domenici

Many people have shown themselves to be unrealistically impatient with this Congress. Cindy Sheehan now wishes to run against Nancy Pelosi in her District. I myself have heard Liberal talk show hosts dismiss Pelosi and Reid's sincerity with a broad backhanded slap. Moreover, of course, Congress, elected with high expectations to end this war now has an approval rating on a par with Bush's.

I think the 110th Congress has been badly undersold. You see things are changing. The glacier is moving. People said “Do Nothing Congress!” I said, “Give this Congress a
Chance!” Now I’m declaring a tentative “I told you so.”

I have a couple of theories about why a tipping point in favor of the Dems is now occurring in Congress.

Theory One: Some Republicans are actually getting sick, tired, and impatient with the conduct of the war in Iraq, and are not happy with the prospect of a lengthy commitment in that war-torn country.

Theory Two: At least one major Senate Republican has a nasty ethics tie-in with the ever-popular Alberto Gonzales that he would like to see go away.

Theory Three: Many Republicans see how unpopular Bush and the war are, and are worried about the slavish pro-war stance all GOP hopefuls are taking as they try to appeal to the Right in 2008 and all the negativity it will inspire in the general elections They note which way the wind is blowing, and the money is going - in Democrat's pockets! In comparison with the poorest Dem Presidential hopeful, the richest GOP contender is a pauper!

Theory 1 is exemplified by Republican Senators such as Dick Lugar of Indiana and Olympia Snowe of Maine.

Lugar's Wikipedia profile suggests no improprieties on his part. Apparently, Lugar is so popular that twice he ran for the Senate unopposed by the Democratic Party in Indiana. The first time he got 87% of the vote.

Moreover, he could work with the other side to:

As Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Lugar built bipartisan support for 1996 federal farm program reforms, ending 1930s-era federal production controls. He worked to initiate a biofuels research program to help decrease U.S. dependency on foreign oil, and led initiatives to streamline the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reform the food stamp program, and preserve the federal school lunch program.

Well, at least the Wikipedians don't feel the need to write home about any Lugar shenanigans, so let's see what Wiki says about his stand on the war:

Stance on Iraq War

On June 25, 2007, Senator Lugar, who had been 'a reliable vote for President Bush on the war,' said that 'Bush's Iraq strategy [is] not working and ... the U.S. should downsize the military's role.'[4]

Lugar's blunt assessment has been viewed as significant in that it shows the growing impatience and dissatisfaction with President Bush's strategy in Iraq. Lugar's speech had particular resonance given his stature as one of the party's elder statesmen on foreign policy. After Lugar finished his remarks, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), a sharp critic of the war, praised Lugar's 'thoughtful, sincere and honest' speech, which Durbin said was in 'finest tradition of the U.S. Senate.'[5] Durbin urged his Senate colleagues to take a copy of Lugar's speech home over the Fourth of July break and study it before returning to work.[5] Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, in reaction to Lugar's speech: 'When this war comes to an end, and it will come to an end, and the history books are written, and they will be written, I believe that Sen. Lugar's words yesterday could be remembered as a turning point in this intractable civil war in Iraq. '[6]

Two days later, on June 27, 2007, Lugar said that Congressional measures aimed at curtailing U.S. military involvement in Iraq, including 'so-called timetables, benchmarks,' have 'no particular legal consequence,' are 'very partisan,' and "will not work.

Olympia Snowe is considered one of the fairest impartial and honest Senators in a long time. At the Clinton impeachment trial, she voted to acquit once a motion to vote separately on the charges and the remedy failed.

Snowe is a moderate and resolutely so. According to Wikipedia:

Snowe is a self-described political moderate, whose independence in the Senate often marks her for complaints from more conservative groups, especially over her support for legalized abortion and gay rights. On other social issues like drug policy, travel to Cuba, and censorship issues like government regulation of the media and prohibiting flag-burning, Snowe is quite conservative. In fiscal matters and on defense, Snowe is also generally conservative. She has been long-regarded as a hawk on foreign affairs, supporting both President Clinton's involvement in Kosovo and President George W. Bush's interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, however she recently has criticized the administration's involvement in Iraq.

So, Snowe and Lugar ain't got no skin in the game other than what they feel is right. What about Pete Domenici?

By all rights, Domenici should be part of Bush's Praetorian Guard.

According to Wikipedia, Republicans for Environmental Protection called Domenici "Worst in the Senate in 2006." This brings me to Theory 2.

In addition to assigning Domenici a score of zero for his environmental voting record, the group issued him ìenvironmental harm demeritsî for what they saw as two particularly irresponsible acts: first, for spearheading efforts to include in federal budget legislation provisions for ìspeculative revenues from oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; second, 'for sponsoring and securing passage of S. 3711, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which would perpetuate Americaís dangerous oil dependence, set a precedent for drilling in sensitive marine waters, and direct a disproportionate share of federal royalty revenues from a public resource to four states.

The nonpartisan League of Conservation Voters is also not happy with him for voting to allow mining companies to buy patents on public lands to mine them without environmental standards for $5 or less an acre. Real sweet guy!

Now what would make an environmentally sensitive guy like Pete suddenly grow a conscience on an issue like Iraq? Doesn't he know they've got oil there?

Perhaps I rely too much on Wikipedia, but once more, they have got something interesting to say that may shed light on the timing of Pete's newfound religion:

Prior to the 2006 midterm election Domenici called and pressured then-United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico David Iglesias to speed up indictments in a federal corruption investigation, immediately prior to an election, that involved at least one former Democratic state senator. When Iglesias said an indictment wouldn't be handed down until at least December, Domenici said "I'm very sorry to hear that" ó and the line went dead. Iglesias was fired one week later by the Bush Administration. A communication by a senator or House member with a federal prosecutor regarding an ongoing criminal investigation is a violation of ethics rules. In a March 2007 statement, Domenici admitted making such a call.[4] House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., issued subpoenas to require Iglesias and three other ousted U.S. attorneys to testify before Congress.[5]

Domenici later admitted calling Iglesias, though Domenici claimed he never used the word 'November' when he called Iglesias about an ongoing Albuquerque courthouse corruption case.[6] Domenici has denied trying to influence Iglesias, and has hired lawyer K. Lee Blalack II to represent him.[7]

According to the Justice Department, Domenici called the Department and demanded Iglesias be replaced on four occasions.[8]

According to the Washington Post, on the day of the firing (Dec 7, 2006) William Kelley, a deputy to then White House Counsel Harriet Miers, said in an email that Domenici's chief of staff was 'happy as a clam' about the Iglesias firing. A week later, a Justice Department email to the White House counsel stated: 'Domenici is going to send over names tomorrow (not even waiting for Iglesias's body to cool).'

Now with Gonzales being investigated for what now looks like perjury over Attorneygate now would be a good time to get on the investigator's good side. Play the anti-war card!

Theory Three is one out of left field, but quite logical if you think about it. There's been a load shift in the political truck as it careens toward Election City. It's been due to how Americans perceive the situation in Iraq, how they see the overall performance of this Administration, how they view the Republican Party, and a perceived "Culture of Corruption" within it. It's also logical to assume that rank and file Republicans feel somewhat demoralized. And so, one result of this is a realization that Democrats and the Progressive Left in general are growing in power. A major indicator of this is the fact that for the first time in my memory, the Democratic Party, and it's candidates are outraising the Republicans in funding while the Republicans, possibly out of panic, are spending like sailors!

Even FOX NEWS has been forced to admit this:

Democrats outraised Republicans about $80 million to $50 million from April through June. But Republicans kept pace with Democrats on spending ó nearly $50 million spent on both sides.

The Democrats' money advantage was helped in large part by the extraordinary fundraising of Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. He raised $32 million for the primary; she raised $21.5 million.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics site, the securities and investment industry's favorite recipient of funds is Hilary Clinton. Before it was Mitt Romney.

The Wall Street Journal's prognosis of the situation is this:

If their fund-raising advantage continues -- so far, Democrats have been pulling in about 58% of overall donations to federal-office seekers -- they will have more resources for pricey advertising, organization building and voter outreach next November to buttress their edge in the polls. Moreover, Democrats' focus on small donors leaves them room to raise more cash over the next year, since many contributors have yet to hit the legal limit of $2,300 per candidate per election, and could potentially keep giving.

And so, it seems, at least now that people perceive that Republicans and Conservatives in general are on their way out, and Liberal will stop being a dirty word.

Therefore, I now feel that I was right to defend this Congress, because I feel that the votes are going in the anti-war direction. One reason may be that many Republicans are waking up to the dire situation in Iraq. Another reason is that due to the probes into possible corruption in the Administration, some legislators may find themselves in awkward positions they may wish to distance themselves from. Finally, some Republicans have their political fingers in the wind, and see which way the wind blows.

All of which leads me to say that Pelosi and Reid are being undersold; This Congress will get its benchmarks and an exit strategy! I give you a tentative "I told you so!"

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