As Nancy Pelosi made clear yesterday on Face the Nation, the Democrats in Congress will employ their oversight perogatives as their main tactic against Bush from now until the presidential election in 2008. As the majority party, they can call oversight hearings, place Bush officials under oath, and haul administration programs before the TV cameras.
That's what is likely to happen this week. Just as Bush announces mid-week his new surge strategy of boosting troop strength in Iraq, the Dems will be questioning Condi Rice, the Secretary of State before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday. A House Armed Services Committee hearing will hear Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine General Peter Pace on that same day.
Democratic Cleveland congressman Dennis Kucinich, the most outspoken member of the House against the war, tells the Washington Post this morning, "Congress has to intervene right now." And even Rahm Emmanuel, the man who is credited with masterminding the Democratic victory in the House elections last fall and who often tends to echo the Clinton line, is now speaking out strongly on the war: "This is not a surge. This is an escalation," he said. "When the American people voted for change in November,this is not what they had in mind."
Pelosi indicated yesterday that the main Democratic tool for slowing or blocking Bush on the war will be his probable request for supplemental funds to finance the surge. Whether they have the votes to deny him the funds is problematic.
-- James Ridgeway