Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What happened to Congressional loyalty to country over party?

A U.S. Senate committee sent a subpoena to the Obama administration on Monday demanding secret documents and access to witnesses in last year's shooting that killed 13 people at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.

The subpoena represents a rare public dispute between a Democratic-led Congress, which has been largely supportive of President Obama's policies, and the administration, which prides itself on increased government transparency.

From 2000 to 2006, Democrats legitimately complained that the Republican controlled Congress was abdicating its oversight duty regarding a Republican administration out of party loyalty.

From 2006 to 2008, a Democratic Congress abdicated its oversight duty regarding a Republican administration out of party loyalty because it didn't want to rock the boat in advance of the 2008 presidential election.

From 2008 to date, a Democratic Congress is abdicating its oversight duty regarding a Democratic administration out of party loyalty.

It's gotten to where it's now big news (and evidence of socially unacceptable disloyalty) when a congressional committee investigates executive action by a member of the same party.

It used to be the norm for Senators such as Fulbright and Baker to have more loyalty to country than party - - Democrat Fulbright vigorously opposed Johnson's Viet Nam mistakes, and Republican Baker neutrally participated in the investigation of Nixon's Watergate criminality. You would never see that in today's environment. Today, there would be no intra party challenge to Johnson, and Nixon would serve out his full two terms with united Republican support.

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