Thursday, February 01, 2007

Putting his foot down (and in his mouth at the same time)

Mark Laswell, deputy books editor at The Wall Street Journal, takes on Sen. Chuck Hagel's jab at shoe salesmen:

Washington is a city of many diversions, but very little surpasses the pure entertainment value of watching a senator--media chatter about his potential attractiveness as a presidential prospect ringing in his ears--commandeer the microphone during a committee meeting and then posture in a most forceful and statesmanlike way for the television cameras. Sen. Hagel did not disappoint last week. As the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations prepared to vote on the resolution expressing outright opposition to the increase in troops, Sen. Hagel, a longstanding critic of the war, was in ultra-dudgeon about what he apparently regards as an insufficient amount of Capitol Hill kibitzing on the president's conduct of the war.

"I think all 100 senators ought to be on the line" by having to make a "tough vote" on the troop increase, Sen. Hagel said. In a bit of bullying that instantly became the TV quote of the day, he then appeared to call out an unspecified number of his honorable colleagues as cowards: "If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes."

Whereupon, Mr. Lasswell makes some comparisons between having a Senate job and selling shoes, (which is, as reality would have it, not that safe a job).

But here's the meat in the broth:

It's not clear precisely what the point would be of a resolution opposing the troop increase, other than letting legislators flatter themselves with the notion that they have some influence over the president's war-making strategy. Conducting a periodic opinion poll on Capitol Hill (for that's what nonbinding resolutions are) might be useful. Certainly historians would wish that during the Civil War the Senate had taken its temperature every few months regarding President Lincoln's prosecution of the war. Might have been interesting to compare their vacillations with his single-mindedness.


Full article: If the Shoe Fits: Chuck Hagel courageously takes on footwear salesmen (OpinionJournal, Feb. 1, 2007)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In reading about the Revolutionary War years, I am struck again by the mumble headedness of the Continental Congress.

Today's Senatorial stupidities have very definite historical roots.

Several historians mention how there were various Congressional plans to remove George Washington at key times during the War. Often members thought themselves better to address the war from safety in Philadelphia or Baltimore. (John Adams is mentioned as one miscreant.)

Yet, I will mention Adams again. He has been dismissed by many because of his supposedly 'aristocratic' thinking.
John Adams seemed to have had little use for legislatures. He certainly knew them well! He distrusted their special interests. He put more faith in good leaders; he wanted a strong executive. Which is what we have today in our President.

Congress has 'won' precious few wars for the United States. I doubt Senator Hagel and his ilk will. It is the work of the great Presidents which wins them.