Congress failed to be equal partner in war
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, could have said more Saturday when a reporter asked him about a Dothan National Guard unit that a mother says is inadequately supplied for duty in Iraq.
But the senator, like other members of Congress, has a dilemma: Fully exercising his constitutional duties as a member of the co-equal legislative branch will bring scorn from the right wing of his party, and he will ultimately be labeled unpatriotic.
The atmosphere in Washington, D.C., today brings memories of Joe McCarthy's witch hunt for Communists in and out of government.
The Wisconsin senator bullied the majority in government into silence until one man finally spoke up.
Sen. Shelby said he isn't familiar with the details of the Dothan unit's lack of supplies and a mother's request for the state to help.
He made these points about the war though: The federal government, not states, should supply troops; The Pentagon disputes allegations of equipment problems; The military should have sent more troops into Iraq at the start of the war, and he suggested more are needed now; He's against a premature pullout of troops.
Congress' greatest failure in the war has been its lack of good, solid thinking from moderate Republicans who are afraid to speak up.
That's because the propaganda mill is relentless with its message that anyone who opposes the administration on any aspect of the war on terrorism is unpatriotic.
Sen. Shelby is a good man, but like so many others in Congress, he's gone timid.
It took attorney Joseph Welch at the sensational Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954 to stand up to the senator. After that, he crumbled and that ended the wholesale accusation of Americans being Communists.
Had Congress insisted on doing its duty, the mistakes in the war that Sen. Shelby acknowledged in his Falkville town hall meeting may not have happened.