- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 4, 2005

The first week of June has been remarkable in U.S. history. It was this week in 1776 that a congressional committee was formed to start drafting a Bill of Particulars for King George to consider. Just a month later, it was ratified as the Declaration of Independence. During this first week of June 1942 the battle of Midway was fought, the turning point in World War II in the Pacific. Within days, Congress was deliberating appropriations for more carriers. In 1944, that was the week when hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers were hurled ashore at Normandy — beginning the liberation of Europe. Shortly after, both the House and Senate began examining how Europe would be rebuilt after the war.

Now ponder the history Congress made last week, in 2005. It’s pathetic. Thanks to a Senate more concerned with its own petty “perks,” personal privileges and arcane procedures, we still have no ambassador in Baghdad. Though we have been without one for three months now — a constant hindrance to coordinating American and Iraqi forces in the midst of war — the Senate is in no rush. Apparently the solons, secure in their sinecures, aren’t bothered by the casualty figures.

Few Americans see the United Nations as anything but hopelessly corrupt, woefully incompetent and unabashedly ambitious. Yet, the U.S. Senate, proud of its shiny new “filibuster deal” and operating in its own alternate universe, can find no reason to expedite confirmation of the hard-nosed John Bolton as head of our mission at the U.N. Sen. George Voinovich, erstwhile Republican from Ohio, was so anxious about sending a steel-spined ambassador into the U.N. kleptocracy he got as teary-eyed as an unwed mother getting a new car from Oprah. Barbara Boxer could have done no better.

Even Sen. John McCain of Arizona — not exactly known as a “team player” in Republican circles — tried to goad his colleagues to act: “The U.N. needs the presence of a tough, hard, dedicated individual…. I think we realize it’s time to move ahead with the people’s business.” Nice try, John, but it didn’t work. We ought to have someone there to look after our interests — and the billions of our tax dollars squandered by Kofi & Co. But our senators aren’t concerned enough to hasten Mr. Bolton’s arrival in Turtle Bay.

Nor do these people who seem to do so little appear to care much about how the rest of us get to work. Have any of them noticed that, while they dither, we have paid nearly record prices for gasoline, electricity and diesel fuel — as the Senate sits on the energy bill?

The “upper chamber” isn’t alone in its nonfeasance. The House has done little of import this spring either — unless, of course, one considers newsworthy the reports of House Government Reform Committee members lining up to get autographs from steroid-pumped baseball players. Could they have forgotten the C-SPAN cameras were on?

Instead of doing the “people’s business,” House Democrats have decided it’s more fun to hold a witch hunt for “dirt” on Tom DeLay. In the process, they realized they needed to clean up their own dirt and correct reports of their own lobbyist-funded junkets. In fairness, it must be recorded the House did pass a bill — certain to be vetoed — to spend the people’s money on embryonic stem cell research.

Have they all — in both parties and both houses — forgotten young Americans are dying in Iraqi killing fields? As the American taxpayers pony up billions to help rebuild Iraq, how many, if any in Congress, realize the electrical-generating equipment purchased from our European “allies” won’t work? Do any of our congressional representatives or senators know — or care — Afghanistan is now producing more opium than it did under the Taliban?

Do they think we haven’t noticed Social Security is on the ropes? Up on the Hill, they say they don’t like the president’s proposals for dealing with the problem. Where are the congressional ideas for how to fix it — or to keep Medicare from going broke? Immigration reform and new trade agreements languish in Congress without promise of near-term action. In his Rose Garden press conference this week, Mr. Bush said it right: “My attitude toward Congress… will be reflected on whether or not they’re capable of getting anything done.”

Unfortunately, there isn’t much time to get things done. Now that they are back from their five-day “Memorial Day Weekend,” they have just 30 days left on their “legislative calendar” — meaning “work” — before they “recess” until after Labor Day. It can be hoped the soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry don’t get wind of this “grueling” schedule. They are on a 13-month tour in Iraq — having reported to the war from a 13-month tour in Korea. Unlike members of Congress, these soldiers can’t shirk their duties, arguing over procedural technicalities, throwing tantrums when things don’t go their way, blaming others for failures, then proclaiming it all “successful” while collecting their paychecks.

For members of the House and Senate unmoved by their countrymen’s cries to “get something done” and those lacking the courage to confront their self-centered colleagues, there is another historic model they can consider. It was in the first week of June 1989 that a brave young man stood before a column of tanks in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. He made history. Will this Congress?

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist and founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance.


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