Today was the first of three days that the House and the Senate will be debating the joint resolution to authorize the president to potentially use military force againts Iraq.
In an attempt to learn more about the debate, I have been listening to the debate on NPR for much of today. My opinions on the issue are very clear; I do not feel that we as a nation have the legal right to interfere in Iraq without a clear mandate from the United Nations. (Granted I do not think we have the moral right to interfere even with a UN mandate, but that is beside the point here.)
Most of the debates NPR was covering came from the House. The formal process by which debate occurs in my opinion is very rarely what I would consider a “debate” but more different representatives listening to themselves talk. And given the granting of minutes, usually they only get 4 to 6 minutes at a stretch.
Given that I was limited to the audio feeds from the debates, I was not able to ascertain the number of representatives entering and leaving the chambers, but it seemed from the subject matter that all of the speeches were made completely devoid of reference from other speeches. The representatives repeated one another to such a large extent on obvious points I was amazed; as if their fellow representatives needed to be reminded that the 9/11 terrorists used planes to commit their killings.
Another observation was in the use of titles. Aside from the normal title of “gentleman from the state of blah” many representatives felt the need when yielding time to a colleague to add a complete list of their titles in the House. Now this seemed appropriate for representatives who are the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, but I did find it odd when the chairman of the Inland Wetlands Committee was introduced as such.
Our elected officials also seem to be masters of exaggeration and leaps of logic that are quite beyond me as a mortal man. The repeated comparisons of Saddam Husein to Hitler were to me an amazing stretch of the imagination. And I was particularly fond (not) of the belief that Saddam could threaten the US with his weapons of mass destruction even though he has no missiles that can travel past Israel.
In all of the tak I heard today, I did not hear one representative speak who was unsure of his vote. I assume that the each representative is speaking to an audience of his peers who are as yet undecided. Or at least I hope so, as otherwise they are making these speeches for my benefit and I would rather they just put the matter to a vote and move on to more important matters.
So the debates will rage on for another two days and then they will vote in a manner whose outcome is effectively predetermined. This point was even made during the couse of some of the speeches. Odd. Very odd.
But such is the way of government.