My friend Shaun Mullen has a post this morning (at TMV) titled “Missing in Action: The Democratic Mandate“, in which he writes:
Was it really only four months ago that an emergent Democratic majority in Congress prepared to march boldly into the future and deal decisively with all of those vexing problems facing the republic, most especially the Mess in Mesopotamia?
In politics, a mandate is the authority granted by an electorate to act as its representative. Elections are often said to give the newly elected government or elected official a mandate to implement certain policies. Also the period a government serves between elections is often referred to as a mandate and when the government seeks re-election it is said to be seeking a “new mandate”.
Folks, when a country is riven nearly exactly in half, nobody has the ability to act on a mandate, even when each of the halves is internally united in its vision — and these are not:
House Democratic leaders offered a full-throated defense last night of their plans to link Iraq war spending with rigorous standards for resting, training and equipping combat troops, saying that they would hold President Bush accountable for failing to meet those readiness tests.
But after a fractious meeting of the House Democratic caucus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Democratic members still have not united around the proposal.
Of course they’re not. Nobody is:
Members of Congress are not “the only ones conflicted,” said Rep. John Tanner (Tenn.). “The country’s conflicted. We don’t want to do the same thing we’ve been doing for 3 1/2 years that hasn’t worked, but we don’t want to pull the plug.”
Furthermore, if the Democrats interpreted the results as a mandate from their respective individual electorates, then so did the Republicans, and as you may have noticed, the gulf between them is…. um… rather wide.
The Democrats took November’s elections to mean that they had a mandate to end the war in Iraq, with the correlating implication that the Republicans had lost their mandate to wage it. Not only am I not at all convinced that’s true, but both sides are now faced with the realization that Iraq is neither a clear-cut issue, nor does it have an obvious (much less “mandated”) solution.
The devil is always in the details, and this time around, the details of Iraq are the Devil himself.
The bad news is that without clarity of purpose, our congressional leadership is gridlocked. Of course, given the current situation in a number of venues, I’d have to put that under the “good news” column heading, as well…