Members of Congress should not be surprised when poll after poll ranks them low in the opinion of the nation's voters. Citizens mayadmire their own member, but, as an institution, the survey numbers are dismal.
No wonder. When it comes to wasting time, posturing, and working to gain political points over substance, Congress has no competition.
Take the recent prolonged debate over a Republican-sponsored resolution on the war in Iraq.
The GOP leadership in both houses had a transparent goal: back Democrats to the wall in an election year by forcing them to vote on a nonbinding resolution. The central issue was whether the United States should set a deadline for a troop withdrawl from Iraq. A few Democrats caved in, although mostfavored a "phased reployment" from the war zone without a planned date.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert said the nation must stand firm "in its commitment to fight terrorism." Mr. Speaker, we've stood firm for three years even after the president made the mistake of once declaring that major hostilities were over. The war continues, and insurgency remains even as our leaders make false predictions that the end is in sight.
Republicans hope to challenge the Democrats as being perceived as soft on the war, and even soft on patriotism. Of course, all of this is aimed at the November elections, with some Republicans growing increasingly concerned over Bush's low standing in the polls and with his conduct of the war.
In the past, I'm sure Democrats have used the majority to nail the opposition on resolutions. But Republicans are working overtime on this one.
Our nation is beset with staggering problemshealthcare, immigration reform, energy, and educationto cite just a few still waiting to be decided.
But Congress is debating a political resolution with no basis in law. It's a disgrace.