Democrats need to decide tomorrow whether they collaborate with George Bush in co-owning the tremendous mess in America’s national security portfolio — or whether they cut a new course.
For sure, secret CIA detention centers will be de-funded and investigations of everything from intelligence stove-piping and cherry-picking to the no-bid contracts that Halliburton and other defense contractors received will be initiated.
One of the things the recess-appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton never got high on his roster was an investigation into what happened to the $9 billion that disappeared without a trace during the reign of Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority. Congressman and Super-Investigator Henry Waxman, I hear, really wants to know.
But the key thing is that this election will rob from the White House the ability to close down filibusters in the Senate.
The House will constrain and condition funding bills.
But if the Senate fails to turn to Democrats — which I hope it does not — then George Bush will remain the “accountable party” for decisions during the two years, and we will see “responsible” Republicans slowly peel away from supporting the White House as Dems shine the spotlight on scandal after scandal.
Not only Iraq. Not only Feith and Chalabi. Not only Halliburton.
But we will be back into Cheney’s energy policy and secret meeting with industry players. Back to Abramoff. Back to Tom DeLay’s brand of pay for play. Back to Enron, Tyco and the rest.
We will see a modern version of “public hangings” in the US Capitol — but without the coroners, and the Bush administration will be cornered as the result of today’s likely modest shift in control of the House of Representatives.
Checks and balances will be back when the Dems score at least 218 seats in the House.
— Steve Clemons