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23 November 2005 @ 04:37 pm
Drama in the House  
Although I didn't have time to write about it, I was excited by the drama in Congress recently. When debate breaks out over troop withdrawal in earnest, it can only benefit the American people by drawing them into the political process. For one brief moment we all watched as argument erupted and passions ran high. What a contrast to the boring speeches read to cameras on C-Span, the chamber empty of other representatives or senators, trying to compete with the drama and comedy that is available on a zillion other channels. No wonder Americans tune out of the political process--how can it compete with Survivor (politics on a different scale) or CSI?

When Rep. Jean Schmidt of Ohio made her famous criticism of Rep. John Murtha, it played on news channels and comedy shows everywhere. Suddenly we were riveted. Her comment was simply a more dramatic form of the same lines used by the Bush Administration to try to silence criticism of their war--we are unpatriotic, we are giving aid and comfort to the enemy and emboldening them, we are harming troop morale (what could be a bigger boost for morale than the thought of going home in the forseeable future?) and finally, we are cowards. For the record, her words, supposedly a quote, were "cowards cut and run, Marines never do."

What she didn't know was the service record of her colleague. Nor did she get her quote correct, according to state Rep. Danny Bubp. Finally, she apologized for her remarks.

For a long time I thought it would be disastrous if we left Iraq too soon. Now I'm coming around to the point of view that our presence there is a large part of the problem, and without it violence might well be reduced substantially. As long as we look like occupiers, we feed the resistance. Fortunately, it looks like Americans are waking up.

The one good thing I hope comes out of the Bush years is that people come to realize what happens when they disengage from their democracy and stop doing their duty as citizens. What we are supposed to do is read about the candidates' positions and make an informed decision--and then vote. The reality is that few of us vote, and of those who do only a small percentage actually do their homework. For those who complain that "the media" is not doing their job and giving us enough information--well, write to the editors or networks and compain!

When we shirk our duties we deserve what we get.