Pathetic Senate, Timid Reid on Iraq War
February 6, 2007
What a pathetic sight the Senate was earlier this week when it failed to take up nonbinding resolutions on the Iraq War.
Republicans rallied enough support to doom the watered-down condemnations of Bush’s surge. And Democrats didn’t want to go on record opposing funding for the troops.
So that’s where things ended, with nothing done, while all the while the death toll for U.S. soldiers surpassed the 3,100 mark.
While I expected nothing less from Republican hacks than to shield their hapless leader from a wrist slap, I had hoped that the Democratic majority would rise to the occasion.
After all, Russ Feingold and Ted Kennedy have been outspoken on the issue. Feingold has introduced legislation to cut off funding within six months.
“From the beginning, this war has been a mistake, and the policies that have carried it out have been a failure,” Feingold said on January 31. “Congress must not allow the President to continue a war that has already come at such a terrible cost. We have the constitutional authority and the moral responsibility to end our involvement in Iraq.”
Kennedy’s bill would require Bush to come back to Congress to authorize the surge. On February 6, while the Senate engaged in meaningless parliamentary maneuvers, Kennedy said: “If the President refuses to change course, we must act to change it ourselves, protect our troops, and end this misguided war. The war today is not the war that Congress authorized four years ago. Now, it’s a civil war. Sectarian violence is rising. Militias commit unspeakable acts of violence and torture. Ethnic cleansing is a fact of daily life. Millions of Iraqis are fleeing the violence and leaving their country. The war today is not about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction or his alleged relationship with Al Qaeda. It’s Iraqi against Iraqi. Iraq is at war with itself, and American soldiers are caught in the middle.”
But most of the Democrats are so timid that they wouldn’t stand up and be counted on the question of continued funding. When Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire, introduced a bill that said Congress should not cut off any funding, the Democratic leadership ran for cover.
“There isn’t a Democrat here that wants to take monies away from the troops,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Way to frame the issue, Harry!
Look, the only way that Democrats will be able to stop this war is by cutting off funding for it.
Pro-war pols and pundits will always blame the Democrats for “taking monies away from the troops.”
But what the Democrats would really be doing is taking away Bush’s wherewithal to wage this foolish war, Bush’s wherewithal to get more U.S. troops killed.
“If members of Congress are worried about American troops fighting for their lives in a futile war, those lives are not protected by voting for continued funding,” wrote the constitutional scholar Louis Fisher in his book Presidential War Powers. “The proper and responsible action is to terminate appropriations and bring the troops home.”
The Democrats need to take that proper and responsible action now.