If Iraq was a Humphrey Bogart movie, the usual suspects would be rounding up the cops.
Such is the current chaotic state of affairs in Iraq that most of us would rightly expect that as many as possible of the best minds in the country would be brought to bear in an effort to improve the situation for that nation’s shattered citizenry.
Unhappily though, the decisions on Iraq in recent years have been taken by a very few.
This is set to change.
The departure of defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the arrival of Robert Gates, and the expected input from the bipartisan James Baker and Lee Hamilton-led Iraq Study Group is an opportunity to bring an expanded number of keen minds to bear on a war that, despite claims to the contrary, is not progressing towards a satisfactory conclusion.
Beyond these elder statesmen it is to be hoped that the new Congress acts like something more than just a rubber stamp on an issue that is costing the U.S. thousands of dead and wounded soldiers, and between two and three billions of dollars each week.
Released from the frustrations of being a minority, we assume that the Democrats in both the House and Senate have any number of useful ideas as to how to make things better.
Released from the burdens of being the majority, and having to bear all that responsibility that comes with power, we assume that Republicans in the House and Senate will start to think a little outside the play book that has been employed with little positive effect up until now.
Congress, both sides of its aisle, should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, so let’s hear it for a few good plans and proposals, preferably bipartisan ones.
And not just on Iraq. Immigration is an issue that was only partially tackled by the outgoing 109th Congress and will have to be addressed in a far more detailed and imaginative way by its successor, the 110th.
President Bush, for one, is waiting for a bold immigration proposal to make its way from Capitol Hill to his Oval Office desk.
Those members of the incoming Congress who secured legislation in the outgoing session for a fence along the Mexican border should now apply their thoughts to a comprehensive reform proposal.
Nobody can call theses guys soft. They have already shown their mettle and should be well covered politically in the event of their coming up with a bold stroke or two.
Comprehensive reform will likely involve layers of legislation that will include both non-immigrant visas as well as a path to legalization.
It shouldn’t take too long to come up with workable plan.
We just hope it happens before all in Washington are driven to distraction by the next election cycle that, by the look of things, seems to be already up and running.