The weeks continue in a dense and disheartening legislative impasse. It can certainly be called a disappointment though not a surprise. Congress' approval rating may have inched up to earning the confidence of half the public, but their infighting over the war in Iraq has only accentuated the hairline fractures and structural weaknesses of the deliberative body.
Of course the story of how a Democratically controlled Senate could fail to pass even a non-binding resolution against the troop surge Iraq was confusing. I believe this decision occurred because this was a quandary about whether a debate should take place, rather than whether legislation should be passed.
It's a story about procedure; consequently, a lot of the internal dynamics and compromising that is traditionally done behind the scenes in the name of senatorial dignity have became integral parts of the story.
But one thing became crystal clear as I traced the intersections and collisions of demands and accusations during the debate. The Republicans know that the worst thing that could happen to them in the progressing political chronology is for it to appear that when they were in control, Things domestically and internationally degenerated, then the Democrats were sweepingly empowered in both houses of Congress in the interim election and our problems began to move towards resolution.
This chronology would mean political suicide for Republicans. To let the Democrats come in and resolve the policy problems would seal their fate in this chapter of political history as irresponsible ideologues who required the supervision of the sensible.
The GOP must still be able to say that the failures in the "global battle of good and evil" strategy were not because of any fundamental miscalculation, but because of the indefatigable evil of our enemies. If the Democrats are able to calm the storm with a philosophy of diplomacy and restraint, the GOP will lose this line of logic; it will mark the end of the imperial allure of the Republican Party.
Indeed, if they wish to survive, their posture on Capitol Hill must now be sabotage. Their success is bound to the Democrat's failure to clean up the mess. But because Democrats were given the Republican mess to clean up, which can be more rightly called the nation's mess, their success is inversely correlated to that of the public. Their ability to thrive is contingent on our inability to surmount the budgetary, military and policy problems we as a nation face. Their hope is counter-posed to ours.
With that in mind, Republican senators this week made claims they would only debate radical and binding Congressional actions like refusing to finance the war - goading Democrats by telling them to have the courage of their convictions.
The Republicans seem to know that if they refuse to get on board, in even the most symbolic of gestures against this war, then they won't have to put their name on and co-sponsor any of the difficult, historically painful steps that must be taken to end it.
They can watch the Democrats hold the hot potato with their arms folded, refusing to play, waiting for it to blow up in their face with the full knowledge that nothing will get done without their cooperation. And they'll be damned if they cooperate in the Democratic saving of the day.