Wednesday, April 11, 2007

81. Proposed trips along Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Two days ago the president called on the Congress to come to his terms on immigration, something more than a few are not willing to do, but more are willing than in the last Congress, when it was controlled by members of the president's own Party. Yesterday, the president switched gears again and returned the discussion to the War in Iraq, the one he is personally losing, calling on members of the Congress to join him at the White House to discuss moving along his proposals to fund the current situation. His invitation comes with the proviso there will be no negotiation; that is to say he will not entertain the inclusion of a pullout date as part of this invitation. Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic Majority Leader, said his terms are not good enough.

Nonetheless it is likely whoever the president invited over for a chat will make the trek northwestwardly along Pennsylvania Avenue down from the Hill along the sixteen-plus blocks, then up a very slight rise to the Executive Mansion. Ironically, one of the first points of interest the delegation will pass on the way to chat with the president about War is the Peace Monument, which sits out in the front yard of the Capitol building at First Street and Pennsylvania Avenue on the northwest side. It has been out there since 1878, originally erected as a memorial to the Navy casualties of the United States Civil War, sometimes still referred to in the south as the War of Northern Aggression. There are monuments to presidents Garfield and Grant in the same area of the Capital's front yard, to the right, or south (as you are facing the Hill) of the Peace Monument.

President Garfield's is in the southwest side of the Peace Park. Early in the Civil War, President Garfield was a member of the Ohio Vounteer Infantry, which saw action here in the Commonwealth in late 1861 and early 1862, marching his batallions against the Confederacy along what is now US 23 between Catlettsburg and Prestonsburg, with battles in Paintsville and Prestonsburg taking place before the Confederate troops withdrew back toward Virginia. Garfield was promoted to Brigadier General because of his efforts in Kentucky.

The monument for President Grant, as I recall, is down at the bottom of the hill, dramatically and directly in front of the Capitol building; I suppose, technically it is on The Mall. It is of a later date than the other two. We discussed in an earlier blog-entry President Grant's involvement in southwestern Kentucky as part of his duties in the Civil War. Grant was already a Brigadier General when he led forces at the Battle of Belmont along the Mississippi River, opposite of Columbus, where KY 80 dead ends into the river. While it was not a great victory, it was one of the first in his career (November 7, 1861), and one which caught President Abraham Lincoln's eye. We all know Grant went on to lead the entire United States Army and was, like Garfield, later elected president by a country which has had a history of rewarding its war leaders with the country's top post.

Of course, there will never be a monument erected to the current Commander-In-Chief, whose military exploits never got him outside of Texas or Alabama, and then only to campaign for a friend of his then-Congressman father. To be fair, I think neither Speaker Pelosi nor Senator Reid have military credentials of their own, either.

In the next few months, there are likely to be several trips up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, although more are expected from the Congress northwest than from the White House southeast, as the president - and most of his administration - have adopted a no-compromise stance on most everything, a rather arrogant way of using one's political capital. Eventually, the parties from the two ends of Washington's central axis of power must fund the troops in Iraq, with or without a pull-out date. That is not only a political reality, but a moral one, given that we put them there in the first place by the original war vote now several years ago. The president knows he has the upper hand in this matter. But he must also realize that future appropriations may be in jeopardy if he does not arrive at some degree of compromise, one where both the administration and the Congress can save face and move on to the next stage of governing the Republic. Neither truly wants the Constitutional showdown waiting in the wings, as both have problems from their positions. The president can not legally spend any money not authorized by a vote of the Congress, outside of some internal movement of money from one already-existing appropriation to another. Those caches will run out sooner rather than later. At the other end, while the Congress can pay for a war, it does not have the power to conduct one. The title Commander-In-Chief applies to one and only one person, and in this case, his name is George W. Bush.

How long must we wait? In all honesty, probably through another cycle of federal elections. That means January, 2009. That is also the month President Bush is scheduled to vacate both the Oval Office and the bully pulpit he has been occupying since his first election, by a 5 to 4 vote, back in 2001. My father and I have had a comical but grave discussion about the possibility of Bush declaring he isn't willing to leave, due to some dire circumstances in which such a change-of-command might put the Republic. He may declare he can't leave - there may even be some provision somewhere in the not-fully-read but hastily-passed Patriot Act allowing him to remain under some special section having to do with a country at war with no end in sight. It isn't beyond the imagination in the current state of affairs. The president believes that he is the sole controller of the government. Until we the people voted last November, that statement was the de facto truth. But the elections of people like John Yarmuth and Baron Hill, and others across the nation changed that. Until a few more changes are made in the country's representation both in the House and the Senate, we still have our work cut out for us.

So, the journeys begin and will continue, up and down the grandest boulevard in the nation, Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Six hundred forty-nine days remain in the term of the current junta controlling the residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D. C. Redemption draweth nigh.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are not the only one who questions how eager Mr. Bush will be to vacate his postion.


The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.