Senate Votes To Remove Timetables From Supplemental
The Senate is now debating the amendment to strip the timelines out of the supplemental bill on C-SPAN 2. It should be interesting to see how Gordon Smith votes, considering he's up for re-election in 2008, and he is the only Republican to break with Bush and call for dealines for troop withdrawal. As Kos noted yesterday, Smith is running behind Democratic Congresssman Pete DeFazio in the polls, even though DeFazio has said he would not run against Smith (although MyDD is reporting a rumor that the DSCC has offered DeFazio a $5 million bounty to do so). DeFazio is a member of both the Progressive Caucus and the Out of Iraq Caucus, so Smith would be running head-to-head against a strong anti-war candidate.
The vote this afternoon is on an amendment to the supplemental that seeks to strip all language regarding timetables and withdrawal from the supplemental. In order to defeat this amendment, and assuming that Gordon Smith and Ben Nelson are on board (which are not terrible assumptions, but are assumptions none the less), right now Democrats need one more vote.
This is dangerous territory for Democrats. No matter how many good opportunities we have in 2008, A defeat like this could prevent us from nationalizing the 2008 elections. While individual Democrats will still be able to argue that individual Republicans continue to support an extremely unpopular and destructive war, unless Democrats refuse to allow Bush to get away with a blank check, we won't be able to campaign like that as an entire party. If we lose this vote, and if the Senate leadership buckles as a result, the nightmare scenario on the Iraq supplemental begins to become a real possibility (not to mention a sizable left-wing abandonment of activism on behalf of Democrats in the 2008 elections). On the other hand, if we win this vote, and as a result we are able to send a solid conference report to Bush, then Democrats will have begun the process of going to the mat and we can prepare for a huge showdown as a united party.
I'm not going to mention the fact that if certain Democratic members of the Senate (not to mention former Presidents) had gotten behind the Democratic candidate from Connecticut in the last election, this might not be an issue. But if someone else wants to point it out, go right ahead. Me, I'm not convinced Reid, Schumer and others really want to end the war — I'm with Digby in believing that Lieberman gives them all the out that they want to make lots of noise to appease the anti-war crowd without actually doing anything that would offend some of their biggest donors. Because if they really cared, they'd be yanking HoJo's chain like a disobedient beagle rather than putting him out there as the face of the Democratic party and offering him the opportunity to be the hero of Walter Reed.
How I'd love to be proven wrong.