As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Rob Andrews Ate His Wheaties

I'm following the Petraeus/Crocker hearings, and some of the liveblogging at Democracy Arsenal and The Washington Independent. So far, it's basically a rerun of yesterday. But Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) took a very strong line of questioning on the issue of political reconciliation that I thought was noteworthy. He was the first member of Congress that I've seen specifically state that the de-Baathification law as implemented bars top Baath Party members from key posts like the Defense and Interior Ministries, and doesn't do much de-Baathifying at all. Ryan Crocker tried to wiggle out of it by saying these were only top-level members being barred, but Andrews countered that those are precisely the kind of people, with actual expertise and knowledge, that you need back in the government. Crocker meekly said that the law "was done in the spirit of reconciliation," but the implementation shows that to be completely false. Andrews added that there had been no movement on an oil law, and that provincial elections haven't actually been fully passed as well. In fact the political progress is meager, and some of the laws which are being pointed to as "progress" actually harm reconciliation. In a particularly strong moment, Andrews said "The world didn't begin in September... as far as the American people are concerned this has been going on since April 2003," and it's not acceptable to have such little progress over those five years.

It should be noted that Andrews, who hasn't been entirely progressive on the war, is challenging Frank Lautenberg for the US Senate in New Jersey, and surely is trying to present his progressive bona fides by giving these tough questions on the war. But the points need to be made, that the "political reconciliation" being floated by the Administration and their spinners is the result of a bait-and-switch, where the initial progress on lawmaking is foregrounded and the eventual breakdown or negative consequences is backgrounded.

UPDATE: I should also mention Ellen Tauscher's question to Gen. Petraeus, asking him what he would do if his new commander-in-chief advocated for withdrawal, and he couldn't bring himself to say he would comply with those orders! He does "believe in civilian control of the military," in teh abstract however, so at least that's SOMETHING.

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