Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Price of Silence

According to this week's McLaughlin Group over 70,000 of our nation's men and women have been wounded in Iraq. While criticism for the President's handling of the war helped sweep Democrats into power last November, a growing amount of criticism is coming from Republicans. There's also an increase in the verbal intensity of the salvos.

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): I am not confident that President Bush's plan will succeed.

SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R-OH): We have serious concern about the policy of this administration, and that many of us feel you are not listening.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R-NE): There is no strategy. This is a ping pong game with American lives. We better be damn sure we know what we're doing before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder.
The question of what took so long for such public questioning to come to light needs to be asked. Based on how things have been run in the Senate and the House the last few years, Vice President Dick Cheney provided the most honest answer in a Newsweek interview.

Let's say I believe firmly in Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican
To understand the significance of this statement, you have to understand the authoritarian manner (self-righteous, mean-spirited, amoral, manipulative, bullying) in which the House and the Senate have been run over the last few years. Under rule of Tom DeLay and Rick Santorum, loyalty to the Republican leadership was demanded on an absolute basis. Our former Representative Marge Roukema learned this when she was passed over for Chairwomen of the House Financial Services Committee, despite having the most seniority. Rep. Roukema was a moderate, or centrist, who did not go along with the Republican leadership when it went against the values or interests of our District. For that, among many other things, I hold her in the utmost respect.

Congress, as intended by the Founding Fathers, is meant to be a check against the Executive Branch. It is not meant to be an extension of the Oval Office, as has been the case with the submissiveness of those taking the "11th commandment" to heart. When a Representative takes the Oath of Office, it is to the Constitution, not their party. Regardless of what party the President is, Congress bears the responsibility of oversight. My hope is more Republicans will join those who have stepped up demanding the accountability that has been missing since the beginning. Party loyalty should never be placed above a Representative's Constitutional responsibility.

For the 70,000 wounded, and over 3,000 families who have lost loved ones, the price of silence from Capitol Hill the last few years is unacceptably high. The price for party disloyalty will always be far less than the price those who have volunteered to protect our nation will pay when things go horribly wrong and are allowed to continue down that path. It is up to us as a public to ensure our future leaders have the moral fortitude to stand up and say something.

No comments: