Monday, August 6, 2007

Congressional intelligence and Congressional purpose

While watching Fox News in a hotel in Las Vegas, some talking head was imparting wisdom.

He said something along the lines of "Congress is a consumer of intelligence, but does not create any intelligence."

Hear here. In the intellectual debates that are occurring in our country today, Congress as a body is a non-participant (although individual members are advancing positions).

A Huffington Post writer notes that Congress has had low approval ratings since 2002:

Now, about that Congressional approval rating that Republicans are trying to ride as far as stupidity will allow them... Yes, the Congress has a lousy approval rating, but a cursory look at recent history shows that it's a continuation of how the GOP, do-nothing Congresses tanked those numbers beginning back in 2002.

The Huffington writer huffs:

[T]hat downward slide belongs almost entirely to the Republican party and the Democrats simply have not yet reversed that long-term decline.

But will they?

This raises the issue of what the proper role of Congress should be. During certain periods of our history, most notably in 1787 and in 1867-1868, Congress has been expected to be the leading branch of government, the one that sets policy, which the President would merely administer. However, since 1941 we've gone to the other extreme, where Congress has even abdicated its Constitutional responsibility to declare war.

One could argue that Congress could become popular by setting policy on Iraq, by pulling out right now, and by ending the undeclared war (Ron Paul would vote with the Democrats on this). However, the Congressional leadership is not willing to take that step, and therefore occupies the wishy washy ground that was occupied by the Republicans in the late 1940s (the New Deal is bad, but we can do it better).

In the meantime, the current Democratic Congress may end up with the "do-nothing" Congress epithet that the Republicans got back in the day.

Of course, no one will attempt to solve the problem of Republican and Democratic poor performance by bringing in a third party. That wouldn't be prudent.


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