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With the 1996 welfare law expiring this fall, Congressmembers would do
well to stop congratulating themselves on its alleged successes and turn
their attention to the glaring failures of the ne

I was having dinner at a rather expensive restaurant the other night
when a man I'd never met before threatened to kill me. He was a
distinguished-looking fellow, dressed in a dark suit.

As in a paranoid novel by Don DeLillo, it all comes together in the end.
The Democrats can't stand up to Bush on Iraq because they're afraid of
looking soft on terrorism and Saddam Hussein--but

Democrats in Washington and New Jersey sighed with relief when
scandal-plagued Senator Robert Torricelli ended a doomed run for a
second term.

"I am here in the hope that we can do business," Minnesota Governor
Jesse Ventura told a Cuban audience after cutting the ceremonial ribbon
with Fidel Castro to open the recent US Food and Agri

Would-be intelligence watchdogs often lack the knowledge or the will to be effective.

Before nonpresident Al Gore recently weighed in against President Bush's
rush to war in Iraq (for posing "the potential to seriously damage our
ability to win the war against terrorism and to w

Even as Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone announced his opposition to
George W.

In January, when George W. Bush's pollster warned that "Enron is a much
bigger story than anyone in Washington realizes," White House political
director Karl Rove informed the Republican National Committee that this
fall's election would have to be about national security rather than the
economy. Rove wasn't practicing political rocket science; he was merely
echoing the common-sense calculations of veteran Republican strategists
like Jack Pitney, who says, "If voters go to the polls with corporate
scandals at the top of their list, they're probably going to vote
Democratic. If they go [thinking about] the war on terrorism and taxes,"
Republicans have the advantage. Now, with the election that will set the
course for the second half of Bush's term less than two months away,
Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, National Security
Adviser Rice and every other Republican with a talking-head permit is
busy making the improbable case for war with Iraq.

Rove's sly strategy appears to be working. On September 4, the day
Congress returned from its summer break, the Dow Jones average plunged
355 points. Yet the next morning's headlines talked about how Bush would
"put the case for action in Iraq to key lawmakers." Whether Bush
actually believes that the war he's promoting is necessary--or even
marketable--there's no question that Republican prospects are aided by
the fact that he's talking about Saddam Hussein rather than Enron,
WorldCom, Harken, Halliburton, deficits, layoffs and 401(k)atastrophes.
There is, however, some question as to why Democrats are allowing Rove's
scenario to play out so smoothly. Along with those questions comes the
fear that unless the supposed party of opposition finds its voice soon,
Democrats could squander opportunities not only to stop a senseless and
unnecessary war but also to hold the Senate and wrest control of the
House from the right in November.

So far, however, most of the coherent Congressional challenges to the
Bush strategy have been initiated by Republicans worried about the
threat a war would pose to the domestic economy (House majority leader
Dick Armey) or who actually listen to the State Department (Jim Leach, a
key player on the House International Relations Committee). While Bush
and Rove have had trouble keeping their GOP comrades in line, they've
had more luck with Democrats. Only a handful of Democrats, like
Progressive Caucus chair Dennis Kucinich, have echoed Armey's blunt
criticisms of the rush to war. A few more have chimed in with practical
arguments against the Administration line, a view perhaps best expressed
by Martin Sabo of Minnesota, who says that "to move into a country and
say we're going to topple the government and take over the
government--and I think inherent in that is also 'run it'--is not
something we have ever proved very capable of doing."

But House Democratic opposition has been muddled by the fact that
minority leader Dick Gephardt has positioned himself as an enthusiastic
backer of "regime change" in Iraq. One senior member of his caucus says,
"You can pin most of the blame on Gephardt. If he hadn't been so
enthusiastic about going to war when the Bush people brought this up in
the first place, I think they would have backed off." Acknowledging that
Gephardt's position could make it difficult to hold off a House vote in
October, Kucinich says, "I think it could all come down to how Daschle
handles the issue."

Senate majority leader Tom Daschle is not doing Bush as many favors as
Gephardt--Daschle at least says Congress needs more information. But the
Senate's leader has yet to echo likely 2004 Democratic presidential
candidate Senator John Kerry's suggestion that a policy of containment
would be sufficient to manage any threat posed by Iraq, let alone to
express the steady skepticism of Senate Armed Services Committee chair
Carl Levin, who left a meeting at which Rumsfeld tried to make the case
for war and said, "I don't think [the Administration] added anything."

Daschle's caution is rooted in his concern that a misstep on issues of
war and patriotism could jeopardize his continued leadership of the
Senate. It's a legitimate worry; his one-seat majority could well be
endangered if flag-waving appeals take hold--as they have before--in
Senate battleground states like Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Georgia,
North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Daschle's own South Dakota.
But Daschle's caution is not making things easier for Democrats in those
states. It has simply left him playing Karl Rove's game when he should
be saying what most Americans know: that in the absence of any credible
evidence of an immediate and quantifiable threat from Iraq, Congress
should not get bogged down in this issue. Moving aggressively to shift
the focus from Iraq to corporate wrongdoing and economic instability
would be smart politics for Daschle and the Democrats. More important,
calling the President's bluff on Iraq would slow the rush toward a
senseless war while freeing Congress to debate genuine threats to
America.

Blogs

Rand Paul and Barbara Lee are right: “The Constitution requires Congress to vote on the use of military force.”

November 24, 2014

Progressive senators are objecting to Obama’s latest Wall Street nominee.

November 24, 2014

Think you're getting a great deal on Black Friday? You should see how much Walmart is "saving."

November 24, 2014

The Senate’s failure to bring even a narrow, watered-down reform to a final vote underscores that Congress is for the most part disinterested in exercising its constitutional duty to oversee the intelligence community.

November 19, 2014

Outgoing Colorado Senator Mark Udall promises to fight to the last day “to make sure we keep faith with our founding values.”

November 19, 2014

Has Republican Ed Whitfield unethically supported the interests of his wife’s firm?

November 17, 2014

Eric on this week in concerts and new music releases and Reed on how the mainstream press is always trying to tell the same (false) story about the Republican Party.

November 17, 2014

The liberal icon has been tapped to help the party shape policy and battle the GOP in coming years.

November 13, 2014

A new study suggests air pollution near fracking sites may be worse than previously estimated—putting workers and local residents at increased risk of cancer, birth defects and other major health problems.

November 10, 2014

This year’s midterms raised the minimum wage in four states and two cities across the country—now it’s time to make sure those wages get paid.

November 7, 2014