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Posted by on Feb 17, 2007 in At TMV | 5 comments

Iraq: Can the Democrats Use Their Hammer?


This Kirkuk car bombing was binding. It killed 10 and wounded 60.

The Democratic-controlled Senate, again at the mercy of Republican procedural moves, was unable to approve the non-binding House resolution today opposing President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq.

Bully for the House. More raspberries for the Senate.

You can take heart at the House action if you’ve been banging your head against the wall over the runaway train that the Iraq war has become, but symbolism goes only so far and won’t stanch the bleeding, let alone force the hapless Al-Maliki government to clean up its act.

In the meantime, the feeling persists — and grows — that the Democrats on the whole remain indecisive about how to use their mandate to try to hammer the White House into acquiescing to the wishes of a majority of Americans. Those are the folks who are sick and tired of the Baghdad government’s all but open support of the Shiite majority in the ongoing civil war, who want their sons and daughters brought home ASAP, and who do not want to allow the president to dump the enormous mess that he has made on his successor.

As Nicholas Rivera noted earlier today at TMV, the rubber won’t really meet the road until the Democrats have to put our money where their mouths are; that is, act on a supplemental appropriations bill to fund the war through this year.

That will happen in about a month, which probably is enough time to judge the success – or failure – of President Bush’s “surge” strategy, which is yet another last-ditch effort to tamp down sectarian violence, as well as whether Al-Maliki has truly been a partner in that effort.

Or, as Nick wonders, are the Democrats:

[S]imply going to let this war drag on for another year or two, gambling that the voters will again take their frustration out on the Republicans as they did during the 2006 midterm elections?

I sure hope that I’m wrong, but I vote for the Dems wimping out.

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  • Perhaps Dems will “wimp out”, the ability to predict the behavior of 400+ congresscritters being beyond my ability.

    And despite the crocodile tears being shed on the right for the Dems likely refusal to defund the war outright (a move they recognize would be politically unpopular), I suspect the Dems will continue to move towards hindering the escalation as well as use Congress’ investigatory powers to continue to expose the futility of Bush’s war efforts.

    My best guess is that rather than defunding the war outright the house will attach conditions to the upcoming supplemental which will restrict the admin’s ability to escalate a la the Murtha proposal.

  • Paul Silver

    I think the Senate GOP position to insist that they be able to propose amendments and alternatives is legitimate. However I do believe that they will lose the public relations battle with most citizen’s who see them as obstructing the will of the people. The GOP seems committed to losing large in 08.
    They should cut their loses and vote on the Warner/Levin compromise.

  • Paul, don’t you find it odd that the same media that used to present Democratic filibusters of judicial nominees as bravely standing up for principle now presents a Republican filibuster of an artificially limited Iraq war debate as obstructionism?

    I wish they would make up their minds and settle on talking points that were consistent about whether or not it is good for the minority to have/use procedural protections. As it is, it usually seems that the good/bad decision about the use of the filibuster correlates exactly to Democrat/Republican use.

  • I think it’s good for the Senate to have the options to passing hasty legislation harder is a good thing, no matter which party is doing it. So the only things wrong with the GOP doing this is on the merits of the case, not the principles … and there’s nothing at stake here. But of course these are the same people who argued last year that these sort of techniques were just short of treason.

  • Elrod

    That goes both ways, doesn’t it? Does Fox News think Reid should pull the nuclear option to get this resolution through?

    But I think in this case it’s irrelevant. We’re talking about a symbolic resolution, that’s it. The Washington Post rightly pointed that the real story is that 56 Senators came out against the escalation, not that the Dems couldn’t get cloture.

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