Friday, March 16, 2007

Yo, Republicans, Micromanage This

You've got to hand it to Republicans: When they get a word or phrase that they want to push into the public consciousness, they not only repeat it with unparalleled discipline but the parroting of the nonsensical phrase du jour starts at the very top of the party and goes right on down to your local GOP dogcatcher.

"Cut and run" was useful to them for a long time until they discovered that they were accusing the vast majority of the American people of being cowards -- so they dropped that one after voters used the last election to tell them to shut the hell up. The latest word you hear coming out of every Republican's mouth is "micromanage," as in the Democrats in Congress are trying to "micromanage the military" when it comes to the disastrous effort in Iraq.

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Mike Duncan sent an e-mail blast to his knuckle-dragging followers on Thursday and he had it right up there in the first sentence:

"You've read recently about Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha's attempts to micromanage the Iraq war from the U.S. House," he writes, keeping the overall e-mail short, to not challenge his average reader's attention span. "Well, not to be outdone, the Democrats in the U.S. Senate are taking up a resolution today that would force President Bush to withdraw our troops from Iraq whether we have reached our goals or not."

You've been hearing that a lot lately out of the RNC and every GOP talking head making the rounds on cable news shows and it looks like the crew in the White House got the same memo.

"I can't imagine a circumstance in which it's a good thing that their flexibility is constrained by people sitting here in Washington, sitting in the Congress, trying to micromanage this war," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the end of February.

Last week, Dan Bartlett, Counselor to Bush, was speaking of the Iraq war resolution sponsored by Harry Reid (D-NV) and said "I think it's in direct contradiction to what they American people want, they don't want 535 members of Congress micromanaging our generals on the ground who are trying to fight a war."

White House Spokesman Tony Snow makes a living misleading the American people and he's been right there with the rest of them, saying two weeks ago -- and many times since -- that the Democratic plan "seems to be a device by which members of Congress, themselves, would try to get involved in micromanaging the activities of military officials."

Alright, so these people don't actually serve on Capitol Hill so they might not be familiar with the whole role of Congress to perform oversight over the executive branch of government and make sure the president isn't doing anything to harm the country. That's got to be it. Certainly, if their only example is the previous, do-nothing Republican Congress, they would naturally think that the only duties of the peoples' representatives are to hang a nice picture of George W. Bush in their office, stare adoringly at it each day and rubber stamp every idiotic thing the president does.

But it was even going on in the House of Representatives where, earlier this week, GOP Congressman Mike Pence opined that " the Democrat plan to micromanage our war in Iraq with benchmarks and deadlines for withdrawal is a prescription for retreat and defeat."

Hmmmm. "Retreat and defeat." Sounds like that will be the next verbal distraction.

But since I cover the Senate, let's jump right over there and hear what, in an amazing coincidence of phrasing, took place on Wednesday when a whole bunch of Republicans used the same language in just one day:
"We need to give (U.S. commanders) a chance to succeed, not micromanage the war from Congress like the House Democrats are attempting to do" - Kit Bond (R-MO)

"They would not declare war, nor end it, as the Constitution provides, but micromanage it. I ask my colleagues: Is such micromanagement of warfare the responsibility of this body?" - John McCain (R-AZ)

"There is a reason why we don't have 535 commanders in chief or 100 commanding generals… That is why I will vote against this resolution and any of the resolutions that seek to micromanage the war." - Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

"The problem is the new majority and the Democrat strategy can best be characterized as one of slow bleed, micromanage, and say nice things about supporting the troops but don't support the mission we sent them on." - John Cornyn (R-TX)

"I think it is most unwise for Congress to even broach the subject of micromanagement of the war. When Congressman Murtha suggested some time ago that funding be conditioned on a whole series of requirements, it bore all the earmarks of micromanagement of the war." - Arlen Specter (R-PA)

"This attempt to micromanage the war at every level by Senate resolutions is not what our Government should do at a time of war." - Mel Martinez (R-FL)
And the most revolting of the Republican side of the aisle, Joe Lieberman, jumped on the old spinwagon too, saying "congress has been given many great responsibilities by our Constitution, but the daily micromanagement of war is not one of them."

Hey, if I didn’t know better, I would think that someone was giving all of these deep, original thinkers talking points and that they were all ordered to say the same thing over and over again.

Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) did his best to smack them down and remind Republicans that when we have a Commander-in-Chief with the brain of a 12-year-old, who won't listen to anyone else, it's the responsibility of the Congress to exercise some adult supervision.

"The American people are far ahead of the administration. We have an obligation to stand up for our troops and stand up to our President when he stubbornly refuses to change course in Iraq," said Kennedy on Wednesday. "We are meeting our responsibility by changing the mission of our military, not 'micromanaging' the war."

"The recent hearings on Walter Reed should instruct us here today. They tell us how little faith we can put in this administration. The very people who hide behind the troops when their policies are questioned have failed to keep faith with our wounded soldiers."

And the major point that's being missed by the lunkhead corporate media who swallow every word of the GOP accusing Democrats of "micromanaging" the military on the ground in Iraq, is that the orders on how to conduct the war are coming straight from the White House to the battlefield and not vice versa.

This administration has zero track record of actually listening to what the generals on the ground say about the war. Pretending that those same people are suddenly in charge is just a cynical device meant to take criticism intended for Team Bush and make it look as if it's intended for the troops in the field.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) tied up one piece of reality nicely on Wednesday: There's new leaders in town and people are just going to have to get used to the notion of the American people once again having a say in this war and Congress reasserting itself as a balancing, coequal branch of government.

"They say we shouldn't try to micromanage the war. No one is trying to micromanage a war. There is a constitutional responsibility by Members of the Senate to act as a legislative body," said Menendez. "I say the era of blank checks, both in lives and national treasure, is over. They say don't micromanage the war. Well, you have had a blank check under this administration. You have rubberstamped everything they have wanted, with virtually no oversight, until this new Congress started. That is not the responsible exercise of the Senate."

So, Republicans, take your stupid "micromanage" phrase and toss it on the same refuse pile where "cut and run" and "stay the course" now decompose.

And start actually doing something to show you care about the troops.