Obama: Tell IVAW "Yes We Can"
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Watching Nancy Pelosi as she began her address to the attendees at the Democratic National Convention last night, it was hard not to feel a twitch of sympathy. It must be hard to be the one charged with getting up and listing, as she did, the achievements of this Democratic controlled Congress, even before an audience as pumped up as the crowd at Denver's Pepsi Center. Nearly two years after a midterm election that saw them trounce Republicans on a wave of antiwar sentiment, the war in Iraq drags on, costing thousands upon thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. Meanwhile, on the homefront, the Democrats recently helped pass the FISA Amendments Act, which, in addition to codifying Bush's illegal wiretapping scheme, insulated telecoms from accountability from spying on Americans (a fact that was must be hard to glass over in Denver, given AT&T's corporate logo on convention goody bags.) Pelosi herself has been dogged by protesters in the past several months, thanks to revelations late last year that she, along with a small group of legislators, was secretly briefed on the administration's torture tactics, way back in 2002. As the Washington Post reported:
"For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk. Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised."
But back to Denver: Pelosi's speech was laden with patriotic paeans to the troops. "Every chance we get, we must honor our veterans and our men and women in uniform for their courage, patriotism, and the sacrifice they and their families are willing to make," she said. "Because of them, America is the land of the free and the home of the brave." Whatever that last line has to do with our current military misadventures is unclear, but Americans, brave or not, are fairly fed up with meaningless pledges to the troops that are made while Congress continues writing checks for the war. In a recent appearance on "Meet the Press," Pelosi was shown Congress's recent approval ratings. According to the latest Gallup poll, 14 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing -- and 75 percent do not. "That's the lowest number that Gallup has ever reported," Tom Brokaw pointed out.
Today all questions regarding Congressional haplessness and enabling are met with one response: Barack Obama. Whether in the name of unity or an unwillingness to own responsibility for failing to fulfill its mandate, more than any other accomplishment, Democratic legislators appear content to celebrate their bestowing of Obama on the country as our best hope for change. That includes ending the war.
Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet's Rights and Liberties and War on Iraq Special Coverage.