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The Tentacle


September 22, 2006

Whether politics?

Roy Meachum

The latest survey on Congress should not have surprised anyone. The nation's highest legislative body earned a 25 percent approval rating.

The last time Capitol Hill fell this low was in the days before Newt Gingrich's revolution brought Republicans to power for the longest period since the Depression days. In modern times, Democrats had ruled the Hill for 40 years. His 1994 revolution endured after the man himself departed town.

The poll's most surprising element was that it came so soon after the 2004 presidential election, which confirmed once again the GOP sway over the House and the Senate. As all the world knows, George W. Bush has suffered the same fate; his present standing in the country fits the description: low enough to reach up and touch a snake's belly.

Despite White House efforts to blame its problem on Democrat obstructionism over Iraq, in fact, the initial invasion received rousing support on both sides of the aisle. But the serious major development since the last elections does indeed originate in the war.

All those earlier warnings and pronouncements have proven wrong: there were never weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack and Iraqis did not greet American forces with kisses.

In addition, it is becoming increasingly apparent to those who earlier favored the invasion that the administration never had plans to restore the country to a comfort level for its citizens. Electricity remains out most of the day and individual safety has become a major worry. With the world's third largest oil reserves, Iraqis frequently have trouble buying gas.

Only Washington wonks can truly believe a democracy lies in the unhappy land's future.

As this columnist pointed out months before the invasion: Like ancient France, the former Mesopotamia is divided in three parts: Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni.

As much as any other factor, Baghdad keeps the threat of civil war alive by insisting on establishing three independent regions along religious lines.

Meanwhile, civilian casualty figures reached an all-time high in July and August. Facing increasing insecurity, Iraqis lack confidence in anything officials say, especially American.

Partisanship looms as the other major factor that looms for me as the reason for the public's disgust with Capitol Hill.

Bill after bill has been passed for ideological reasons that have little to do with the functioning of government. Many of them were pushed by Tom Delay, who currently faces trial in Texas for campaign finance irregularities.

Corruption has been encouraged by the partisanship practiced by the party that has ruled the Hill the last dozen years. Apparently Republicans learned nothing in the Gingrich-led coup that feasted on Democratic malfeasance and favoritism. Their lack of reality is demonstrated in the infamous Abramoff scandal. And one more example:

Senate President Bill Frist, a Harvard-trained physician, held himself up to national ridicule a few months back. Sitting in his Washington office, he announced that without examination he was better able, than her doctors, to diagnose Terri Schiavo; she had been diagnosed brain dead in way-off Florida. He pronounced her in good shape shortly before she died. The late night comedians had a ball with that story.

We are living through, once again, another painful illustration of why politicians shouldn't hang around so long.



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