What Do They Know and Why Don't They Know It
By Frank Salvato on (Apr 26, 07)

"Two instances, appalling in nature to those of us who embrace the idea of good government, took place this week at the hands of Democrat leadership.”


Recent actions and statements by those who exist on the left side of the aisle have served as proof for any reasonable American that congressional Democrats, especially their leadership, are invested in – and in fact insist upon – placing politics before government. Their blatant disregard for the well-being of our nation leads me to ask, how well do the Progressive-Left and the Democrats who appease them understand the duties associated with being an elected member of the United States government?


One of the last true statesmen to have graced the halls of Congress, Henry Hyde (R-IL), was often heard to say that those elected to office are the stewards to the US Constitution. By this he meant that they were beholden to the principles, ideals, tenets and procedural boundaries held within the document itself. My belief goes a bit further to include the idea that all Americans are vested with this commitment and that in addition to the principles, ideals and tenets of our founding documents each and every one of us is obligated to at least understanding the philosophy that influenced our Founders and Framers to compose such a revolutionary form of self-governance.


That said, and current events taken into consideration, I am led to believe that many in Congress from both sides of the aisle – and perhaps most people elected to office – are sadly devoid of a proper understanding of the Constitution and just exactly what it is they are required to do for their constituencies.


Two instances, appalling in nature to those of us who embrace the idea of good government, took place this week at the hands of Democrat leadership.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), leaving a meeting at the White House where the issue of the Iraq War Supplemental Appropriations Bill was being discussed, said:


“I believe myself that the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and - you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows - (know) this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday.”
Reid made this statement in stark contrast to declarations by US military personnel on the ground, some in positions of high command and others from the ranks of the soldiers doing the job. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino was quick to point out that no one else in attendance at that meeting heard Senator Reid make such a statement. Secretaries Rice and Gates have never issued such statements of defeat.


That Reid would have an opinion on the matter is one thing. Every American is afforded their opinion via the authority of the First Amendment. But for Reid, who sits in a position of leadership within our government, to assume to speak for others, for him to disregard first-hand knowledge of the facts as they are presented to him by those intimate with the conditions on the ground in Iraq, is not only arrogant, it is politically motivated and reckless.


I am forced to defend his right to make such an inaccurate, uninformed, uneducated and unscrupulous statement because I am faithful to the Constitution. But Reid’s statement only serves to benefit his political standing and the well-being of his political party while it damages our country, damages the morale of the troops in theater and sends a clear message of defeatism and weakness to our enemies.


Where this statement might – might – have been appropriate for private closed-door discussion, as a political leader Reid is obligated to conduct himself in a manner that best serves his constituents. Promoting an uneducated and thoroughly partisan opinion on an issue involving our country’s very survival – and in such a public way as to aid the enemy’s propaganda campaign – is not in the best interest of his constituency.


Just across the hall, figuratively speaking, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi found herself “unavailable” for a closed-door briefing on the military situation currently existing in Iraq given by General David Petraeus. In fact, the only Democrat to show up for this briefing was Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee.


While the entirety of congressional Democrats should be exposed for their blatant refusal to gather first-source, fact-based information on a situation currently being debating in Congress (when did gathering facts become optional?), it is singularly Nancy Pelosi’s responsibility as Speaker of the House and leader of her party in that chamber to lead them, to require, to insist that to do their jobs.


That Pelosi opted for a phone conversation with Gen. Petraeus is of little consolation. Leaders lead by example and Pelosi’s absence served to diminish the importance of gathering the facts regarding our troops in Iraq and the progress of their mission. What could possibly have been more important than gathering the facts on the premier issue of our day. But for her political victories as a partisan Progressive-Leftist, Pelosi has proven throughout her short tenure to be a miserable leader.


In both instances Democrat leadership has proven it has a lack of knowledge of – if not fidelity to – the constitutional requirements of their offices. For a country at war with the most lethal foe it has ever faced this sort of self-centered, opportunistic behavior could very well prove to be our death knell.


Returning to Henry Hyde’s idea that elected officials are the stewards of our Constitution – and to that extent the sentinels who should be standing guard over good government – I propose that every time a new congress is seated, every time a new president is elected and every time a new Supreme Court justice is sworn in, that they undergo a three week intensive study of the Constitution not unlike the program offered at the National Academy for Civics & Government through the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Further, I propose that those in Congress take one week to engage in an extensive crash course in the subject related to any committee they may find themselves sitting on: finance committee members should know how to balance a budget; defense committee members should have an understanding of the Pentagon and the military; intelligence committee members should understand the ideology of gathering intelligence; foreign affairs committee members should have a grasp of the inner-workings of the State Department, etc.


Only when those elected to office are properly educated on the requirements of their positions, informed and knowledgeable about the subject matter of the committees on which they sit and dedicated to the principles, ideals, tenets and procedural boundaries of the Constitution will we be able to move from a government run by special interest groups and partisans to a government that holds good government above politics. Only when we require our elected officials to understand the greatness and the intricacies of our country’s foundation will we rid ourselves of political opportunists like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.


Now, the question is what politician has the guts to do the right thing by proposing legislation to this affect?


Related Reading:


Reid says Bush told Iraq war lost cause
http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20070420-122924-7679r.htm


Real Deal in Ramadi
http://www.newmediajournal.us/guest/e_jeffers/04172007.htm


In Parts of Baghdad, The Surge Is Working
http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=3001578


House speaker to skip general’s briefing on progress in Iraq
http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2007/04/house_speaker_t.html?csp=34


Tom DeLay: Reid, Pelosi ‘Close to Treason’
NewsMax.com


Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally.


By Frank Salvato on Apr 26, 07
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