When Dennis Kucinich earlier this month introduced a bill to compel the withdrawal of all American troops from Libya within 15 days, the leadership of both parties and the political class treated it the way they do most of Kucinich's challenges to establishment political orthodoxy: they ignored it except to mock its unSeriousness. But a funny thing happened: numerous liberal House Democrats were joined by dozens of conservative GOP members to express support for his bill, and the White House and GOP House leadership became jointly alarmed that the bill could actually pass; that's why GOP House Speaker John Boehner introduced a Resolution purporting to rebuke Obama for failing to comply with the War Powers Resolution, but which, in fact, was designed to be an utterly inconsequential act. Its purpose was to protect Obama's war by ensuring that Kucinich's bill failed; the point of Boehner's alternative was to provide a symbolic though meaningless outlet for those House members angry over Obama's failure to get Congressional support.
Still, Kucinich's bill attracted an extraordinary amount of support given that it would have forced the President to withdraw all troops from an ongoing war in a little over 2 weeks. A total of 148 House members voted for it; even more notable was how bipartisan the support was: 61 Democrats and 87 Republicans. Included among those voting for mandatory withdrawal from Libya were some of the House's most liberal members (Grijalva, Holt, Woolsey, Barney Frank) and its most conservative members identified with the Tea Party (McClintock, Chaffetz, Bachmann). Boehner's amendment -- demanding that Obama more fully brief Congress -- ultimately passed, also with substantial bipartisan support, but most media reports ultimately recognized it for what it was: a joint effort by the leadership of both parties and the White House to sabotage the anti-war efforts of its most liberal and most conservative members.
A similar dynamic asserted itself during the joint efforts by the White House and the GOP Congressional leadership to ensure an extension of the Patriot Act without any reforms. What The Nation correctly described as a "Left-Right coalition" blocked the joint GOP/Democratic scheme to force the extension through on an expedited basis, without any debate. Similarly, opposition to ultimate enactment of the Patriot Act was led by some of the most conservative GOP members of the Senate (Rand Paul, Mike Lee) and some of its most liberal (Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley). Like the Libya War, the Patriot Act was protected by a union of the White House and GOP Congressional leadership against this dissident, bipartisan coalition. Much the same occurred when Alan Grayson and Ron Paul joined with members from the Right and Left -- and against the establishment of both parties -- to pass a bill compelling an audit of the Fed.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Signs of Hope
reports on a growing bi-partisan movement in Congress to challenge establishment thinking on such things as our Libya intervention, the Patriot Act, and the Federal Reserve. Now, that's what I'm talkin' about!! (And it's why I supported last election such Tea Party libertarians as Rand Paul.)Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com