Nothing like coming back from vacation, catching up on the news, and feeling disgusted. As Digby says:
Damned if we might be seeing the same thing unfold all over again. I accept that the supplemental funding bill will pass as is. And I accept that there will be some faithless Dems who will cross over and give Bush his "bipartisan" cover. Bush is determined to continue with this debacle and that still scares pols from conservative districts and states. (I won't even go into the marshamallows who call themselves Republican "moderates" in more liberal districts, but I'm looking forward to helping the Dems defeat them.) But I never in a million years thought that we would re-run 2004 again, and the prospect of having to watch our candidates do verbal gymnastics explaining why they didn't vote for the one thing that could have ended the war — de-funding — is almost incomprehensible. Every single day the Republicans are on television trash talking the Dems, saying, "if you are so against this war why won't you use the power o' the purse!" Here we have an opportunity for the presidential candidates to take a free shot and shut down this line of argument right now — and they aren't jumping at the chance.
I criticized Hillary earlier, but it isn't just her. Obama also said he needed to "read the legislation" first. Biden said he's voting for it. I don't know about Richardson — his web-site says nothing specifically about it although he is in favor of "de-authorizing" the war. To their credit, Dodd said he wouldn't, Kucinich certainly won't and Edwards gave a speech today challenging the very concept of the GWOT and said he wouldn't vote for it if he were in the Senate. It's our two front-runners who inexplicably need to think about it.
This seems like a no-brainer to me. In fact, it's so obvious that I foolishly assumed it had been part of the calculation in making the deal — the silver lining was that it would allow the presidential candidates to come out clearly and decisively against the war without actually having to fight about it all summer. Maybe I don't understand politics. But I would swear that this war and the president who insists on escalating it are extremely unpopular and that anyone who wants to lead the nation would be looking for ways to win a majority of votes. Silly me.
I was trying to live with Michael Tomasky's analysis in the Guardian today. I wanted to agree with it; it's smart. Tomasky focuses on the 61 House Democrats holding seats Bush won in 2004, many still considered vulnerable to a Republican knockoff. He argues that, with narrow majorities in the House and Senate, the Democrats don't have the votes to cut off funding for the war, and that at any rate, "Iraq is Bush's war and Bush's failure." I do think there are political risks to continuing to attach timelines for withdrawal to the funding bill. But as I've said before, there are also enormous political risks to going along with the president simply because, well, um, he probably has the votes anyway — and who wants to seem soft on defense? This was, of course, the stirring rationale that led many Democrats to vote to authorize the use of military force in Iraq in October 2002 — a vote they now regret….
I agree with Tomasky that this isn't the Democrats' last shot at the war. By the time the president has to come back for more funding at the end of September, the prognosis for "victory" in Iraq is likely to be grimmer than it is now, and perhaps more Republicans will join Democrats in trying to get aggressive about bringing the troops home. Far more than Democrats, I blame the Republicans who've been pretending to talk tough on the war — those 14 House members who bragged about their sit-down with Bush a few weeks ago; so-called moderate (more accurately, vulnerable) senators like Susan Collins and Norm Coleman — but refuse to back their antiwar talk with votes. While cowardly antiwar Republicans confide they're giving the president until September, more American soldiers are dying. This has been the bloodiest six-month period since the war began. If I had a child fighting in Iraq — and like the vast majority of the American media and political elite, I don't — I'd be furious that Democratic leaders were trying to bill their cave-in to the president as a victory.
Let's be honest: not having the votes and making a tactical decision on which to pivot, while not so palatable, at least has some promise of a long-term thought process with the potential for strategy and maneuvers in the future. Sometimes pragmatic realities have to take precedence when you have nothing else on which to springboard — a give here may mean a gain later there. But don't you dare try to portray this as anything like a victory. We are not dumb, and we refuse to be your rubber stamps. As Digby says: "They really shouldn't try to spin this. If they have to lose, they could at least do it with some dignity."
For my part, I'm just altogether disgusted. And am having trouble thinking rationally about this beyond "arrrrrrggggghhhhh." So, I'm going to take a page from the Edwards' campaign book and find some way to do something for our troops and their families, who continue to put their futures on the line for George Bush's ego, as I keep trying to push some effort forward to bring them home. I cannot come up with anything else that makes sense at the moment — and I need to find something proactive to do because I refuse to just walk away.
In the alternative, maybe I'll take a page from MoveOn.org's book and print off a bunch of spines (PDF) and send them out to all the elected folks who need one. Frankly, that sounds immensely satisfying at the moment on a personal level. In fact, since it is the Memorial Day recess coming up shortly, if any of you get a face to face moment with your elected officials, feel free to talk with them about your feelings on this matter — I'm certain that you have a few well-considered thoughts that you would enjoy sharing at the moment. I know I do.
As selise noted below, the House debate on the Iraq bill is going on right now on C-Span1. I expect some procedural maneuvers on this today, from both sides of the aisle. If you have a moment, please use it to call your elected representative and tell them that you want no procedural machinations — you want a vote, on the record and no maneuvering to give themselves cover for the vote on this. Period. Please share your thoughts on this in the comments, as I do not have it in me to liveblog this today.
(Huge H/T to twolf1 for finding this YouTube for me. It pretty much sums up how I'm feeling at the moment about the whole, disgusting farce with the attempted kabuki on victory spin. Pitiful.)
UPDATE: I meant to include a link to this above. Crooks and Liars has the clip from Olbermann's special comment last night. His palpable disgust pretty much mirrors what I'm feeling at the moment.