Mashek: Don't Blame Democrats For Congressional Inaction

In recent polls, voters express almost as much unhappiness with the Democratic controlled Congress as they do with President Bush.

Some of the anger at Congress is deserved. The Democrats have been unable to move much of the agenda they talked about so earnestly in last year's campaign. Their rhetoric on the still disastrous war in Iraq has failed to produce much more than rhetoric.

However, much of the blame for the inaction belongs to the Republican minority. In both houses, gop members seem to be working overtime to be obstructionists. They are halting progress on immigration, energy and, more important, the non-ending war. Rep. Louise Slaughter, Democrat of New York, had it about right. She said Republicans ought to "grow up."

The gop members, while nervous about the consequences of war to their own skins next year, still fall back on name calling. Democrats are called defeatists, quitters, or appeasers who are willing to deny the troops. People shouldn't buy it. Ever since Saddam Hussein was toppled, nearly every administration move has been wrong. Stay the course, send more troops into a sectarian war, and flail the Democrats is the course of action.

As for immigration, conservative Republicans are the obstacles. The Democrats are carrying the water for Bush. Right wingers in the Senate will never be satisfied. They want more enforcement and even punishment. They seem to be vying with commentator Lou Dobbs of CNN, who wants to stir up more rancor than reason. On energy policy, Republicans want to make sure the oil and gas interests are protected. They usually get most of their money for campaigns.

The bottom line here is that voters, while frustrated with the Democrats, ought to think it through. Republicans are eager to stymie action. Moreover, Congress speaks with 535 voices of both parties. The White House speaks with one voice and a much larger platform. And it has been wrong on just about everything.

By John W. Mashek