Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ferguson and the Status Quo

On February 24, Congressman Mike Ferguson held an open house at his Warren office. During his brief meeting with me and another local activist, he repeatedly insisted that he is “totally dissatisfied” with the “status quo” in Iraq, and that his dissatisfaction led him to support President Bush’s troop “surge” and informed his “No” vote on H.Con.Res. 63, a resolution expressing Congressional opposition to both the surge and the more-of-the-same strategy behind it. Ferguson similarly expressed his dissatisfaction, and his support for the surge, in his Feb. 16 remarks to Congress during debate on the resolution.

The Democratic-sponsored resolution was non-binding, and therefore a tiny and inadequate first step – but a first step nonetheless – toward responding to the Iraqi peoples' passionate and well-documented desire for the Americans to get out, and the American electorate’s November demand that Congress end the war and bring the troops home.

The April appropriations bill will matter far more; money already appropriated in prior years can be used to end the war and bring the troops home, but cutting off future financing is the only way Congress can carry out its Constitutional duty, as a co-equal branch of government, to check the power abuses of the executive branch.

When I asked, Ferguson acknowledged he is aware of Congress’ equal power; that Congress has practical tools, including hearings, with which to exercise that equal power; and that the President is as bound to obey U.S. and international law as any other American citizen: that no one in a Constitutional democracy is above the law.

An interesting follow-up question for Mr. Ferguson is this:

“Given that the two most stable pillars of the status quo for the last four years have been blind obedience to Bush’s failed leadership and the inflammatory and deadly occupying presence of U.S. troops in Iraq, how will you reach your goal of changing the status quo by repeating obedient gestures toward Bush and adding more U.S. troops to Iraq?”

I think a better approach, for all members of the House and Senate, would be to ignore Bush, defund the war, and begin pulling the troops out immediately. There are several Democratic proposals to do just that, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Rep. Jim McGovern and many others. If changing the status quo is Mr. Ferguson’s intention, I hope he’ll show more thoughtful and responsive leadership, by co-sponsoring one of those proposals.


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