By Davis Merritt
Courtesy of The Wichita Eagle
In a rare show of bipartisan cynicism and mutually beneficial deception, Congress last week gave Americans another look into the depth of its intellectual depravity.
By 97 to 1 in the Senate and 348 to 77 in the House, our representatives overrode President Obama’s veto of a reckless law that allows families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in American courts and perhaps assuage their grief with Saudi dollars.
The margins were large because the vote came just as Congress recessed for the November election in which a majority of the members are striving to keep their jobs. Once the override became certain, virtually all Democrats and Republicans abandoned responsibility and hopped aboard the train. Voting for it allowed them to go home postured to voters as sympathetic to the families’ cause and tough as nails on terrorism.
But even before they reached the bottom of the Capitol steps, their leaders, almost on cue it seemed, began to express second thoughts.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who pushed hard both for passage of the bill and the override, suggested that after the election, some changes to it might be in order because, “Nobody had really focused” on the huge and obvious downside: retaliation.
Not to be out-done in post-vote (and pre-election) faux reasonableness, House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “I’d like to think that there’s a way to fix it” to protect U.S. military members overseas from retaliation.
Absurdly, and untruthfully, McConnell blamed Obama (who else?) for Congress’ lack of advance focus on the law’s potentially devastating effects, claiming that the White House had not made a forceful argument about retaliation. Obviously McConnell had ignored the persistent advance warnings from the administration, business leaders and diplomats, and did not read Obama’s veto message, which was crystal clear.
Among the arguments articulated by the administration: damaging the crucial but strained U.S.-Saudi relationship; abandoning well-established global protocols; the fact that the Saudis might begin to withdraw some of their billions of dollars invested in the U.S.to protect against seizure by American courts; the exposure of U.S. military, diplomatic and business people and other assets overseas to similar action by foreign courts, not excluding, of course, Sharia courts; the exposure of U.S. investments overseas to seizure.
Anyone not fully aware of the risk simply wasn’t paying attention.
At least we must hope that’s the explanation because the only other one is so sickeningly craven and corrupt: that holding the vote before the election then fixing things after was the plan all along. The Republicans get to slap Obama around once more; they ensure an over-ride because nobody, including Democrats, wants to go home seeming unsympathetic to the families and coddling of Muslims; and then fix it after.
It’s a full employment plan for incumbents and, not incidentally, hordes of lawyers.
Perfect for everyone.
Except, of course, people who value integrity.