by Robert Herold & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & ere Congresswoman Cathy McMorris only speaking for herself, we could write off her remark as just one more clueless comment. But we know that she wasn't speaking for herself, rather she was speaking for the House Republican majority when she made the absurd assertion that we have made "tremendous progress in Iraq."

It makes no difference whether McMorris or her GOP cohort really believe this nonsense; some do, some don't. What matters is that, for six years now, the House Republicans have done and said exactly what they are told to do and say -- and to do and say over and over. In the process, they have abdicated their deliberative responsibilities. They have failed to provide those checks and balances that the Founders thought so necessary if the Republic weren't to fall victim to mobocracy. It was this fate that Madison, in particular, thought most threatened the grand experiment that the Framers launched in Philadelphia. He said so in Federalist No. 10.

Another of McMorris' orders from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is to urge us all to "stay the course." This mantra is actually pregnant with meaning, if not exactly the meaning Mr. Rove and Company want us to accept. Rove wants us to translate the term this way: "Don't cut and run in Iraq." But that's not really what's at stake. Consider: If, in a month, Democrats do not take back at least one of the two houses of Congress, we will have two more years of Republican control of the Congress, which, make no mistake about it, will ensure the following:

that Donald Rumsfeld will continue to direct America's war effort for the next two years in exactly the same way he has directed it to date;

that, as predicted by the National Security Estimate, we will face more terrorists by 2008 than we face today;

that Bush and Rumsfeld will unilaterally determine all policy and practice regarding detainees (disregard of habeas corpus, "torturelike" interrogation and all the rest -- let there be no doubt that Abu Ghraib remains the template);

that America's responses to the emerging crises with Iran and Korea will reflect the unfiltered, reckless and altogether asinine worldview of the ever more paranoid and delusional Dick Cheney;

that the question of troop levels in Iraq will not be straightforwardly addressed, even though more troops are needed to accomplish whatever results President Bush seeks to accomplish (which even he isn't clear about);

that to get there from here, President Bush would have to consider a draft, and he won't do that because he knows that the very mention of a draft under the current circumstances would likely lead to rioting in the streets;

that, for this reason alone, Bush himself will have to initiate "cut and run," but do it in a way that puts our troops even more in harm's way;

that Bush will do nothing over the next two years to curtail the egregious profiteering in Iraq that has become a national scandal;

that Iraqi companies (unlike German and Japanese companies following World War II) will continue to be frozen out by profiteering American business (the other half of Bush's base), with the result that alienation will only worsen;

that nothing will be done to rein in the marauding private security companies that are killing civilians, all the while flaunting their lack of accountability;

that the situation in Afghanistan will continue to deteriorate, if for no other reason than a lack of resources and interest;

that needed and decisive UN involvement in Iraq will remain problematical, if for no other reason than no country's leaders can afford to be seen working with Bush;

and that the allocation of Homeland Security funds will continue to reflect more electoral college politics than objective threat assessment.

So, really, "stay the course" means just a whole lot more than whether America's non-strategy in Iraq will be continued. With Democrats in charge of even one house of Congress, even with a modest majority, some brakes could be put on our "unitary" executive. Maybe we could see at least some small amount of deliberation, which Bush regards as cumbersome. Far easier just to send orders to the likes of Cathy McMorris.

& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & S & lt;/span & ix years ago, when the world seemed ever so much simpler, George W's personal traits, such as "going with my gut" and not rethinking any decision, were viewed by many as refreshing, as evidence of decisiveness -- and who needed to make the world unnecessarily complex anyway? Give us a "straight shooter" and the rest will take care of itself.

But today, most of us realize that the world is complex and that problems don't yield to simplistic solutions -- most certainly not the mess in Iraq. And even his supporters have come to acknowledge that "straight shooting" was never high on his administration's list of things to aspire to be.

The question becomes then, will the president be forced to face scrutiny from the legislative branch of government, as intended by the Framers, or will America for the next two years, once again empower a House full of Cathy McMorrises to do exactly what Bush tells them to do?

I'm not a big fan of divided government, after all, because the Republicans fully control our national government, we have no doubts about who today is in charge; but given the threats facing the country, taken together with our "go with my gut" president -- held captive as he is to his Rasputin of a vice president -- if there ever was a time for divided government, it has to be now.

American Inheritance: Unpacking World War II @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through May 23
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