Unlike many Kossacks, I sympathize with the Democratic leadership when it comes to Iraq. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have difficult situations. You can twist arms, make threats, pressure, cajole and otherwise try to cobble together a majority from Blue Dogs and conservatives like the Nelsons, Pryor, Landrieu and others, but, ultimately, you can’t shout your way to victory. The Speaker or Majority Leader cannot force anybody to vote the way they personally wish. I cannot, however, sympathize when they present this ugly compromise as some kind of victory, as legislation that will do anything to curb Mister Bush. It is anything but.
In the past month, we’ve seen a majority of House Democrats and a smaller majority of Senate Democrats favor three pieces of legislation that – while far from as strong as they should have been – would have put the onus on Mister Bush for continuing the occupation. Good for them. If only there were more like them.
If the latest legislation is as it appears to be, a toothless, gutless, spineless bill that gives Mister Bush his blank check, Democrats who vote for it are essentially buying the occupation.
Voting "nay" on such a conference bill is the best course of action for those 29 Senators and 169 Representatives who voted for cloture on Feingold-Reid and for the McGovern bill. I urge them to do so. They will not succeed in stopping it. But they will at least remind their fellow Democrats of how a majority party ought to behave when faced with an intransigent President whose unfettered policies and actions will mean the deaths and maiming of tens of thousands of Americans and Iraqis over the next 20 months.
MB has a good point — this is not a meaningless vote, and those who expect us to look to them for leadership beyond 2008 ought to know that the 65% of the country who want out of this war will be watching. I find it ironic that everyone is afraid of being branded a coward when it comes to talkin' trash about a war they don't personally have to fight and never worry what we think when they won't stand up to a cheap sandlot bully like George Bush when it counts.
As those who voted to authorize this war in the first place should know, there is no safety in numbers.