In a vague order of priority known as “things I’d like to see them do,” here are the tasks which could face a Democratic Congress:
A repeal of the Military Commissions Act, signed by the president last week, which condones torture and cancels out centuries of established law by giving the executive branch the right to determine, on its own and with no oversight, who does and does not deserve a hearing on the charges against him. The law is monstrous, unnecessary, and unworthy of a great nation, and erasing it from the books should be a new congress’s first priority.
The rebuilding of New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. The devastation of the Crescent City was not caused by Hurricane Katrina but by the failure of the government-built levees surrounding the metropolis. Those levees have not yet been rebuilt to sustain another Katrina-level storm, and much of the area remains destroyed by water damage. A major effort is needed to make this part of the country a priority for all of America.
Hearings on the Mark Foley scandal. The Republican Congress held hours of hearings on whether former vice president Al Gore used the wrong phone to make fundraising calls, but acts as if it is allergic to the same treatment for a congressman’s sexual harassment of a teenage page.
As many resolutions as it takes to make the president realize it is time for our troops to come home from Iraq. No more false markers for progress, no more rosy predictions, no more “as soon as the Iraqis stand up.” It’s time to stop pretending things will get better and paying for those delusions in American blood.
And last but not least, the question of impeachment. I don’t bring that possibility up lightly. The Republican Party showed America how terrible our politics can be when they wielded impeachment as a political cudgel. But because the GOP used this most severe of penalties for trivial indiscretions does not remove it from use for addressing the grave transgressions of peddling falsehoods to take a nation to war, condoning torture, and increasing terrorism around the world. Impeachment deserves at least to be considered with regards to this president.