Sunday, November 05, 2006

You vote, we ignore

I don't think that any serious thinker can deny that the current midterm elections are a referendum on our strategy in Iraq. If there are major upheavals, and it looks as if there will be, it's pretty much incumbent on the White House to reconsider our Iraq strategy if only because most Americans no longer support "staying the course."

But on ABC's "This Week," Vice President Dick Cheney crawled out of his hole to promise that no matter what happens on Tuesday, nothing will change. Host George Stephanopoulos conducted a challenging interview, but he didn't push the Vice President on the "will of the people," issue that's at stake here.

I'm not arguing that wars should be fought by referendum, but they shouldn't be fought without popular support, either. There are a lot of issues at stake in this election. One could certainly argue that the Bush agenda itself is the real issue. But that agenda has pretty much been defined by the Iraq war. Bush and his administration, in fact, are the ones who have defined it that way. The Iraq war is the major issue of this election. Neither Bush or Cheney will ever stand for election again. But that doesn't absolve them of the responsibility to rethink what they're doing when the American people, who they supposedly serve, tell them to do so.

This isn't about a fickle public. Honestly, the American people have given Bush more than a fair chance to get Iraq right. There wasn't widespread anger when the Iraq invasion didn't live up to the cakewalk expectations of the administration. At almost every turn, Americans have allowed Bush the time, leeway, and resources, to fix his own mess. He hasn't done it. Now, over three years since the invasion, the public has lost it's stomach for this adventure. Folks like me were against the war from the start. But more mainstream citizens turned against it slowly, reluctantly, and quite thoughtfully.

The administration owes the American people some deference now. They won't offer it. That's not their way. But it really should be.

I'll end this one by switching from Iraq and making a brief comment about the economy, which Cheney said is "going gangbusters." Cheney cites a low, 4.4% unemployment rate, as proof of a strong economy. Why aren't Republicans getting credit for the economy? Because, while unemployment is low and GDP growth is high, wages have still been stagnant and the American worker has not been rewarded for the incredible productivity that they've been offering. A lot of the big picture numbers have been looking really good, but the gains and strides that those numbers represent have not been distributed throughout the economy. Public companies are still reporting record profits and record cash on their balance sheets but you have to have an office on the executive floor in order to get a record raise. If Republicans want the public at large to credit them for the economy, then they should see to it that the public at large actually benefits. The media should bring up the wage issue every time that a Republican complains that the public isn't giving them enough credit for economic growth.


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