Thursday, December 28, 2006

"Obsequious Irritant"


According to Lieberman, "over the course of the war in Iraq," discussions on the right approach have taken place in partisan "dueling press conferences" that ignore the common national interest. That's a grotesque reading of the past three years. Congressional Democrats -- and Republicans as well, to only a slightly lesser extent -- have been reduced to making their points in press conferences for two obvious reasons: President Bush the decider has steadfastly refused to consult with anyone outside his close circle of advisers on the best way forward in Iraq, and the Republican-led Congress, under strong White House control, shamefully forfeited its constitutionally prescribed oversight duties.

Although Lieberman, who still strongly supports Bush's original decision to invade Iraq, has become an obsequious irritant with his "war cabinet" idea, the need for greater bipartisanship on Iraq and other foreign-policy issues is real. But it must start with a reasonable reading of recent Washington history and a recognition that White House behavior needs to change.

Sen. Carl Levin, incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, got it exactly right in response to Lieberman. More bipartisanship would be terrific, he said, but what is really needed is for the Bush administration to finally initiate "real consultation" with Congress. Levin even pointed the way Bush should start: by meeting with both Republican and Democratic congressional leaders before he announces his "new direction" for Iraq in January. Now there's a good, reasonable idea.