John McCaslin

Can't we all just get along?

Not these days. Not if you're a Republican facing a Democrat in the Senate, where one lawmaker says the people's business isn't getting done because "gotcha" politics "has poisoned the atmosphere."

In fact, should the trend continue, "the Constitution is not going to work as it was intended to work," warns Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

"The sharpness of this poisoned atmosphere of excessive partisanship and excessive ideological rigidity has made it very difficult for this government to function," he says.

Under the Constitution, the separation of powers is a check and a balance against each other, but that's beginning to erode, he says, unlike when Senate leaders "even within our lifetime - Everett Dirksen, Lyndon Johnson, Mike Mansfield and Bob Dole" - had roost of the place."


As President Bush was giving interviews to two Arab TV networks about the apparently small number of U.S. military personnel that humiliated Iraqi prisoners, the National Center for Public Policy Research posted a letter from Army Spc. Joe Roche, whose 1st Armored Division is part of a quick-deployment task force that handles sudden eruptions by enemy forces within Iraq.

The letter reads: "I went to breakfast and dinner at the dining hall here. It is huge, hundreds of soldiers gathered to eat. Around us are large-screen TVs, and yes, the news was mostly about the prison abuse. Everyone is so angry. I mean, angry! It is as if those soldiers hurt us more than the enemies here in Iraq have. ..."

"As you know, we have done raids and captured some of the top terrorists in Baghdad over the past months. In all of those, we handled the enemy with respect. Our big bosses always pressed us on the Geneva Convention rules before raids, and we have taken many classes on ROEs (rules of engagement) and on the proper treatment of prisoners. ... My battalion has caught car bombers, weapons' smugglers, and those laying (land mines) to kill us. We've even captured in raids those who fired mortars at our base on Baghdad Island. And every time we treated them with respect and took care to give them full medical treatment, food and clothing."

The Army specialist ended by recalling when two of his fellow soldiers were hit by a land mine while riding in a military convoy. One was rescued, the other pinned inside.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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