When it comes to Iraq, newly empowered Democrats in Congress are getting a free ride, so to speak. While the honorable (and right) thing to do would be to combine their just criticism of the President's policy with a vision (and corresponding plan) of their own on how to proceed in Iraq, the Democrats instead seem to have taken the less risky and more politically savvy path of simply pointing an accusatory finger at the President, demanding that he fix what he broke. There is no coherent, broad-based Democratic plan for Iraq other than to criticize the President. In the case of Iraq, Democrats have demonstrated that they are just as capable of letting American service members die in order to preserve their own political ambition as their Republican counterparts are.
If I were to address a Democrat Theme Team equivalent, I would focus my effort on trying to impress them with the issue that will cost them political power down the road. This issue is Iran. While President Bush, a Republican, remains Commander in Chief, a Democrat-controlled Congress shares responsibility on war and peace from this point on. The conflict in Iraq, although ongoing, is a product of the Republican-controlled past. The looming conflict with Iran, however, will be assessed as a product of a Democrat-controlled present and future. If Iraq destroyed the Republican Party, Iran will destroy the Democrats.
I would strongly urge Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, to hold real hearings on Iran. Not the mealy-mouthed Joe Biden-led hearings we witnessed on Iraq in July-August 2002, where he and his colleagues rubber-stamped the President's case for war, but genuine hearings that draw on all the lessons of Congressional failures when it came to Iraq. Summon all the President's men (and women), and grill them on every phrase and word uttered about the Iranian "threat," especially as it has been linked to nuclear weapons. Demand facts to back up the rhetoric.
If hearings show no case for war with Iran, then Congress must act to insure that the United States cannot move toward conflict with that nation on the strength of executive dictate alone. As things currently stand, the Bush Administration, emboldened with a vision of the unitary executive unprecedented in our nation's history, believes it has all of the legal authority it requires when it comes to engaging Iran militarily. The silence of Congress following the President's decision to dispatch a second carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf has been deafening. The fact that a third carrier battle group (the USS Ronald Reagan) will probably join these two in the near future has also gone unnoticed by most, if not all, in Congress.