Monday, October 22, 2007

Another Chance for the Democrats

I'm getting tired of beating up on the Democratic leadership in relation to Iraq. So, this time, I'll pose the issue in terms of "opportunity." The Bush administration is requesting more money for the wars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next year.
The White House has reportedly tacked on an additional $46 billion to its upcoming funding request for Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing the total to a breathtaking $196.4 billion for a single budgetary year — and assuming this passes as is, there could even be more supplemental spending bills down the road.
This is another opportunity for the Democratic leadership in Congress to push for a withdrawal from Iraq. Given that President Bush vetoed legislation that tied funding to a withdrawal deadline, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid should up the ante a little more and cap funding in Iraq to those expenses necessary for winding up current operations and withdrawing troops.

And it should be a hard cap as well.

For the Democratic leadership at this point, it's a matter of choosing the way they're going to get pounded. If they pass withdrawal legislation, the Republicans will go after them with every tool in their smearing playbook. If the Democratic leadership doesn't pass withdrawal legislation, they'll be criticized by the progressive wing of the party and discourage Democratic voters more generally. They found that out after the last round of political combat over funding the Iraq War. Democratic voters were tremendously dissatisfied over the failure of the leadership to end the war and registered their disappointment in low approval ratings for Congress.

In the final irony, failure to pass troop withdrawal legislation won't help them with the right-wing either. All Limbaugh, Coulter, and Hannity would do is switch from the accusations of treason they were making last spring to a big round of gloating over the cowardice and ineffectiveness of the Democratic leadership.

Given that they're going to be hammered no matter what they do, the Democratic leadership should just bite the bullet and refuse to fund anything about the Iraq War except the withdrawal of American forces from their current combat roles.

1 comment:

Todd Mayo said...

I had this conversation with a friend of mine today. He is frustrated that the new Congress has not more aggressively fought the President about his war policy.

My position is that my party has only been in charge since January. They have not been in charge of the House or the Senate since January of 1995. Twelve years. They are still testing the waters. They have to know how voters will react to certain things, especially regarding appropriations for our troops in Iraq. What Senator or Representative would want to be known as one of the people who voted to cut funds to our troops. The public is so caught up in the blame game that they are not going to take the time to think through why a particular legislator or group of legislators voted or failed to vote according to popular opinion. Most of the American public has never had to try and hold on to a public office. They do not realize that some groups and constituentcies ask for the impossible.

That aside, I concur. Now my party's leaders know that a vast majority of voters very much want a bill passed with a timetable for withdrawal and redeployment out of Iraq in a responsible, safe manner.

It is crucial for this Congress to reject any further support of an open-ended commitment to the Iraq conflict. Passing yet another blank check would be a mistake of massive proportions.

By contrast, passing a bill that has a chance of changing the situation in Iraq is the very definition of living up to what society owes our soldiers and the Iraqi people: to give them a fighting chance of success. Ending this unjust, unnecessary conflict is crucial not just for Iraq, but also to the future of our own military, and by extension to our own national security.

A bill tying appropriations for Iraq to a timetable and a plan for a phased withdrawal is the right thing to do. If he vetoes it they should send another just like it. Then, if our brave soldiers are asked to go into battle without being fully armored, fully rested, and fully trained, the President himself will have to stand before them, look them in the eye, and explain why he thinks our national safety is worth that level of sacrifice.

No matter what the right wing might say about Democrats in congress, the American people and our soldiers must understand that passage of this kind of legislation does not mean that we are conceding anything to those who would do our nation harm. We do not lack the will to fight for our security.

Passage of this kind of legislation will demonstrate to our troops and their families that we all have enourmous respect for our soldiers and we also understand that the long-term security of our nation depends on it. This kind of legislation would be an important and historic bill for it would signal to our men and women in uniform that we love them and respect them enough to put their needs at the forefront of our national priorities.

Let's get behind this kind of legislation!!