Congress, then and now

October 22, 2007

Dan Froomkin reporting on Bush’s speech yesterday :

Flanking himself with war heroes and taking it upon himself to decide what is good for the troops, President Bush yesterday requested — one might even say demanded — that Congress give him yet another $46 billion for his military campaigns, for a total of $196 billion this fiscal year.

Considering Bush’s abysmal approval ratings, the widespread opposition to his war in Iraq and the Democratic control of Congress, that was a pretty brazen act. But Bush yesterday made it clear that he is not looking for compromise in the waning months of his presidency. There will be no search for common ground, no outreach to critics, not even further explanation of his policies.

What explains Bush’s cocksureness? The president evidently is still counting on his ability to use the fear of appearing weak or unpatriotic to stampede skittish Congressional Democratics into giving him what he wants.

September 1, 1970

George McGovern, imploring his fellow senators to adopt the Hatfield-McGovern amendment that would have ended the Vietnam War the next year:

“Every senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood. Every Senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and all across our land – young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes.”

“There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure. Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor or courage. It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes.”

“And if we do not end this damnable war those young men will some day curse us for our pitiful willingness to let the Executive carry the burden that the Constitution places on us.”

“So before we vote, let us ponder the admonition of Edmund Burke, the great parliamentarian of an earlier day: “A contentious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood.”

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