Friday, December 15, 2006
The Looming Spectre of Cheney the Tie Breaker
Friday Morning Charivari
It is an uneasy time. If I were a praying man I'd be lighting candles for Senator Johnson.
South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson's medical condition threw an unexpected spanner in the works. To the consternation of Democrats and glee -- subdued, but certainly glee -- of Republicans there are uncertainties about his recovery. In the worst case scenario for Democrats, a Republican would be appointed by Mike Rounds, South Dakota's Republican Governor, thus removing their one vote majority and Vice President Cheney would be back to act as tie breaker. The vice president has been keeping a low profile after November 7th. The ISG report did not give him joy either.
- If Johnson's or any other Democrat's seat switches to the GOP after the new Senate is underway, however, even Cheney's tie-breaking powers could leave Republicans facing a difficult-to-impossible battle to seize control. Barring an agreement to the contrary, Democrats could filibuster efforts to reorganize the chamber and proceed to assume committee chairmanships.
The much anticipated ISG report landed with a thud but the president and those who are against an early withdrawl from Iraq found wiggle room. They are manoeuvring to continue, albeit with some cosmetic changes. The President is hooked to the war. The war and his macho talk made him popular back in 2003. He is unable to accept the fact that people no longer believe in the war or in him. Tom Toles' cartoon in the March 17th issue of the Washington Post is as true today as it was then.
March 17, 2006
Hendrik Hertzberg in The New Yorker :
- The day after the Report was issued, President Bush held a joint news conference with a visitor, Prime Minister Tony Blair. The President took the opportunity, as the Times put it, to “distance himself” from “the central recommendations” of the Study Group—specifically, its calls for diplomatic engagement with Iran and Syria and for pulling back American combat brigades. That was no great surprise. More alarmingly, Bush also distanced himself from the cold shower of reality the Study Group had aimed at him. “I think the analysis of the situation is not really in dispute,” Blair said. But it was in dispute. “The thing I liked about the Baker-Hamilton approach is it discussed the way forward in Iraq,” Bush said—which was to say the thing he didn’t like about it is it discussed what is actually happening in Iraq. When a correspondent suggested that he was “still in denial about how bad things are in Iraq,” the President replied, “It’s bad in Iraq. Does that help?” When another reporter noted that the Study Group wants leaders to be “candid and forthright with people,” he tried. “We have not succeeded as fast as we wanted to succeed,” he said. “Progress is not as rapid as I had hoped,” he said. His problem is success that is insufficiently fast, progress that is insufficiently rapid. Our problem is that he sees it that way.