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A Mutiny on the Potomac?

("Mutiny," by Howard Pyle, via the University of Delaware)

On one of the screens at the TPM blog multiplex, Greg Sargent reported yesterday:

Okay, here's some color from inside the meeting today at the White House between President Bush and Congressional leaders about what to do to resolve the impasse over Iraq.

. . . First, the source says, Bush bristled and was taken aback when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid compared the current situation to Vietnam; he also appeared irked by those who said the war couldn't be won.

Second, according to the source . . . "Reid made it clear to the President that he understood that the President and Vice President after the veto would come after him and Speaker Pelosi with everything they have. Reid said that he and Pelosi would respond just as aggressively. He said he was convinced that they were on the right side of the issue."

In today's papers, more Bushite-friendly sources are trying to peddle different spins, but Reid's apparent evocation of Vietnam (reminding Dubya that "the President and Secretary of Defense knew that the war was lost but continued to press on at the cost of thousands of additional lives") suggests he and Pelosi aren't just reading the polls that have even noted weathervane Rahm Emanuel writing memos urging the Democrats to stand their ground on ending the war — they recognize a moral duty to stop the waste of American soldiers' lives.

Given the rhetorical assault that's likely to come from the White House and the Washington Post editorial page right-wing Wurlitzer, it's important that the Democrats emphasize publicly the moral-duty component of what they're doing.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago:

The tone Democrats should take in explaining their actions isn't angry rebellion, but the sober determination of responsible adults stepping in to clean up a mess that can no longer be tolerated.

Since the charge from our adolescent would-be "strong daddy" President is that Congress is infringing on his imperial authority by demanding a withdrawal from Iraq (hoping that the public doesn't have a strong grasp on that equal-branches-of-government concept), however, there's another metaphor that Democrats should keep in mind:  the mutiny.

Not the guns/swords/walking-the-plank aspects of a mutiny, unless they become necessary obviously.  But the recognition that even though the captain is given the power to command a vessel, when he is derelict in his responsibilities and irrational in his decision-making, the crew and other officers have the right — and even the duty — to relieve him of his authority, for the good of the ship.

That's the situation we face in this country.  This administration has repeatedly betrayed the fundamental trust of Americans, and the people's business needs to be done — and first on that list of business is putting an end to the occupation of Iraq.

In a sense, the problem with advocating impeachment is that it would take too long; it's a protracted legal process, when what the people need is immediate action.  A friend (and now co-blogger) told me many years ago that he hated those "Question Authority" bumper stickers: the motto he preferred was "Assume Authority."

That's what Pelosi and Reid need to do now.  They should make clear that it's not something they do lightly, but the President has become incapacitated — paralyzed by his unwillingness to admit mistakes — and so they are exercising their moral (and Constitutional) duty to step in and take charge.  It's getting to the point where the public will not only back them up, it's begging them to do it.

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Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (