Posted by: Steve Coplan | February 15, 2006

Cheques and balances

The New York Times reports last week that some Democrats sense missed opportunities. In fact, some leading Democrats have gone as far as to suggest that: “they had failed to take full advantage of the troubles that have plagued Mr. Bush and his party since the middle of last year, driving down the president’s approval ratings, opening divisions among Republicans in Congress over policy and potentially putting control of the House and Senate into play in November.” I wonder what tipped these fellows off?

The Roman orator and great defender of the Republic Cicero delivered the speech below when Rome was threatened by the autocratic Catiline conspirators:

“When, O Catiline, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end of that unbridled audacity of yours, swaggering about as it does now? Do not the nightly guards placed on the Palatine Hill –do not the watches posted throughout the city–does not the alarm of the people, and the union of all good men–does not the precaution taken of assembling the senate in this most defensible place–do not the looks and countenances of this venerable body here present, have any effect upon you? Do you not feel that your plans are detected? Do you not see that your conspiracy is already arrested and rendered powerless by the knowledge which every one here possesses of it? What is there that you did last night, what the night before– where is it that you were–who was there that you summoned to meet you–what design was there which was adopted by you, with which you think that any one of us is unacquainted?”

I pause to consider what further ammunition the Democrats require to sufficiently sway public opinion? Faced with rank incompetence (Katrina and its exposure of cronyism in FEMA and reckless underfunding of Army Corp of Engineers), prevarication (take your pick but WMDs is probably a good start), snouts ensconced in the trough (Delay replacement rents apartment owned by lobbyist in DC) and now flagrant disregard for the Congress (wiretaps), the Democrats seem unable to capitalize. Bush could eventually be hoisted by his own petard or undone by his unbridled audacity but he and his cohorts seem to have gotten away with plenty so far, poor approval ratings notwithstanding. As best as I can tell, the strategy is to let Bush implode while individual Democrats jockey for position in preparation for 2008.
It’s not difficult to find supporters of the US two-party arrangement as an integral element in the system’s checks and balances. That assumes of course that the opposition party has some desire for power and a plan in place once it gets there. The circumstances of Bush’s victory may be open to question. What cannot be disputed is that the Democrats have lost (and not once, for that matter). It’s a more than a passing concern that the fate of our Republic lies in their hands.


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