BOSTON (CBS) – Everybody makes mistakes, and when that mistake falls short of an egregious criminal offense, I bet most of us would say everyone deserves a second chance when they blunder.
All we ask, most of the time, is that they try to learn from their mistake.
That simple standard seems a bit too much of a stretch for Congress, according to a new report on our national defenses against terrorism issued by the old 9/11 Commission on the 10th anniversary of their best-selling report.
Back then, they warned that the proliferation of congressional committees and subcommittees overseeing national security – 88 of them in all – was a major problem that undercut our homeland defense, and urged Congress to streamline the system.
Today, there are 92 committees and subcommittees.
Why can’t Congress learn from its mistake?
They don’t want to, because committee power is turf. As the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee put it: “jurisdiction is the holy grail.”
It is the currency of power, which those who seize it are not putting to work to protect the security of their constituents.
By grabbing for it, they’re making things worse.
The 9/11 Commission was evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and they show bi-partisan unity in their contempt for the behavior of both parties in Congress. One of them described Congressional resistance to necessary reform as driven by “preening.”
Preening – the act of admiring and congratulating oneself.
Can you think of a group of Americans less entitled to self-congratulation than Congress?
Listen to Jon’s commentary: