January 8, 2007

What can the Democrats actually do about Iraq?

The NYT reports:
[Nancy Pelosi], along with the Democratic leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, informed the president that they were opposed to increasing troop levels.

“If the president wants to add to this mission, he is going to have to justify it,” Mrs. Pelosi said on the CBS News program “Face the Nation.” “And this is new for him because up until now the Republican Congress has given him a blank check with no oversight, no standards, no conditions.”
Oh, he's going to have to justify it. Strong words, eh? Or will they -- can they -- actually do something about the funding?
She also suggested that Congress should deal with financing for the current war and for the proposed increase as separate issues. “If the president chooses to escalate the war, in his budget request we want to see a distinction between what is there to support the troops who are there now,” she said.

Whether lawmakers are prepared to advocate legislative steps to withhold funds from an expanded mission is unclear. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday that as a practical matter, there was little that lawmakers could do to prevent Mr. Bush from expanding the American military mission in Iraq.

“You can’t go in like a Tinkertoy and play around and say you can’t spend the money on this piece and this piece,” Mr. Biden said on the NBC News program “Meet the Press.” “He’ll be able to keep the troops there forever, constitutionally, if he wants to.”

“As a practical matter,” Mr. Biden added, “there is no way to say, ‘Mr. President, stop.’ ”
That's an interesting contrast between the two legislators, one of whom is running for President in '08. Let's look at the full transcript of Biden on "Meet the Press." Here's the key part (boldface added):
MR. RUSSERT: You said the other day that this is President Bush’s war, and there’s...

SEN. BIDEN: It is.

MR. RUSSERT: ...there’s really little Democrats can do. Why not cut off funding for the war?

SEN. BIDEN: I’ve been there, Tim. You can’t do it.

MR. RUSSERT: Why?

SEN. BIDEN: You can’t do it. It’s—what—because it made sense in the Constitution when you said you could cut off funding when you had no standing army. We have a standing army with a budget of hundreds of billions of dollars. You can’t go in and, like a tinker toy, and play around and say, “You can’t spend the money on this piece and this piece and”—he—able—he’ll be able to keep those troops there forever constitutionally if he wants to.

MR. RUSSERT: Why not have legislation then that would cap the number of troops in Iraq?

SEN. BIDEN: Because it’s very difficult to—it’s constitutionally questionable whether or not you can do that. I think it is unconstitutional to say, “We’re going to tell you you can go, but we’re going to micromanage the war.” When we wrote the Constitution, the intention was to give the commander in chief the authority how to use the forces, when you authorize them, to be able to use the forces. And so, look, what we have to be doing here is the president—the only way this is going to change, Tim, and I’ve been saying—I’m a broken record on this—is when a majority of Lindsey’s colleagues, Republicans, say to the president, “Mr. President, enough. We are not going to support you any more,” that’s when the president will begin to change his policy. That’s when we begin to listen to bipartisan groups. That’s when we bebin—begin to listen to the majority of the expert opinion in this country.
So it's up to the Republicans to do something about the war? Nothing the Democrats can do at all. It's the same situation as before the election, and yet -- in Pelosi's words -- "this is new."

I'm picturing no change in funding the war, even if Bush goes through with his surge. We'll have some hearings and investigations, but they will be primarily for the purpose of shaping the Democrats image in preparation for the '08 election. And that's what you got out of the big '06 elections on the issue that the elections were supposedly all about.

ADDED: Here's Howard Fineman:
Even as they decried the "surge" and declared that it is "time to bring the war to a close," Democrats offered reasons for staying out of Bush's way. Obama took the safest ground. "I cannot in good conscience," he said, "cut off funding for our troops that are already there." He and others will insist that future requests be included in the regular budget. Sen. Joe Biden, whose Foreign Relations Committee will launch hearings on the war this week, said that Congress's role is simply too limited to be effective. "It's all about the separation of powers," he said. Last month he told Bush: "This is your war, Mr. President, and there's nothing we can do to stop you."

The Democrats may not really want to. Party leaders (especially Nancy Pelosi) fear being branded as "weak on defense" if they kicked off in Congress with antiwar maneuvers. Rather than do that, said Biden and Sen. Chris Dodd, the best strategy for now is to try to dig out the facts and educate the public. Only Republicans have the leverage to pressure Bush to change course, Biden said.

In the meantime, Democrats know a classic "wedge issue" when they see one. With 21 Republicans up for re-election, Democrats would be happy to witness full-scale GOP infighting, which could catch the Republicans' '08 front runner, Sen. John McCain, in the crossfire. Democratic strategists say it would be politically foolish to help Bush by crafting a bipartisan war policy. "Why should we try to come up with a compromise policy with him?" asks Mike Ward, a former congressman who was back at the Capitol for opening-day festivities. "If we do that, we take ownership of the war. Why would we want to do that?"
Fineman answers that question in the way that I think I lot of folks who voted for Democrats will. What happened to the outrage? Exactly what you should have expected!

49 comments:

ASX said...

Ann said:

And that's what you got out of the big '06 elections on the issue that the elections were supposedly all about.

Not at all. We got a great deal out of the elections. Most people who understand how the American political system works understood that control of Congress could not stop a determined president's ability to wage war. That's well understood, at least in educated circles.

But we got MUCH more than that. Foremost, in my opinion, is the fact that Bush will not be able to transfer my Social Security savings to wealthy investment bankers and privitize the system.

Second most important is the fact that Democrats can prevent Bush from appointing any more extremist judges to the Supreme Court.

And finally, the oversight and investigative capability.

Gerry said...

"Or will they -- can they -- actually do something about the funding?"

Will. Can. How about Should? That's the debate that needs to occur.

However, I think you will see more Democrats tending towards the Biden approach. Take nothing on, accept no responsibility, place blame, throw spitballs at whatever is tried. It worked in 2006, so why change?

hdhouse said...

What part of that don't you understand?

You are a con law type. Who is commander in chief? Who controls the budget? If Bush frames this right it will be all about "support our troops" which every lawmaker will do.

And for this you blame the democrats for failing to get Bush under control.

May I remind you as I am sure dozens of others will, that the new congress starts hearings tomorrow to find out a number of things we the people are very interested in knowing. Perhaps when we start getting answers from this administration we can plan a course effectively but until then its just so many guesses.

But to your post, Biden is right. Even if the senate passed a sense of the senate or actually even a bill pulling back Bush's mandate resolution of 5 years ago, there are troops in the field and the commander in chief has the constitutional authority to lead them.

Al Maviva said...

Shorter Biden - "Now that I'm looking to be President, all that stuff about really clamping down on Presidential powers, constant hearings and investigations and stuff... in the words of a great man, 'I keeed, I keeed'."

AllenS said...

In the year 2010, if the Democrats control the House, Senate and the Presidency, they'll still be crying that it's Bush's fault.

R2K said...

Not that much they can do, the war has already been lost. Like the film war games from the 1980s: the only way to win the war in Iraq was to never go there in the first place, never destroy the basic structure of the government, never dissolve the army and make millions of people lose their jobs. Now it is just a matter of losing the war with the most dignity and the lowest cost of life.

buffpilot said...

The Democrats can end the war tomorrow by stooping the funding, it’s that easy. Pelosi & Company cannot get around the simple fact that the next appropriations vote where they fund the war, the President can turn around and say the voted to continue the fight to victory when they had a chance to end the war. And he would be correct. The Dem’s can’t get around this simple fact.

It will be fun watching all the congressional democrats, who ran on ending the war, try to spin their way around this.

Pogo said...

What can the Democrats do that will leave them blameless?
Nothing.

So what will they do?
As much nothing as possible.

Anonymous said...

Foremost, in my opinion, is the fact that Bush will not be able to transfer my Social Security savings to wealthy investment bankers and privitize the system.

Oh, goody! So I, on the other hand, can continue my government-mandated "contribution" to a rapidly deflating Ponzi scheme for yet another 20 years, only to see an eventual return of exactly zero as the inevitable means testing screws me out of my retirement funds. Well, as long as you're happy, I'm happy.

buffpilot said...

hdhouse,
CONGRESS controls the budget, specifically the house starts the budget process.

Pelosi could lead the charge and cut the funding for the war and end it. It really is that easy, and without appropriating the money the President can't continue the fight even if he wants to. The Democrates can end the war today, no nead to override a veto, just don't vote any more money.

So will they? President Bush vows to fight to victory, the Democrates want to pull out and they have the purse-strings. I agree with Ann, they will bluster a lot but will not stop the war and will fund whatever the President wants.

monkeyboy said...

If there really is nothing the democrats could do to end the war, then they should not have made that promise to the electorate. I really doubt that they were surprised to find out how funding works.

"transfer my Social Security savings"


Does any really still think that our taxes are being set aside to ease our retirement? I'm certainly not counting on any money from the government.

Zeb Quinn said...

And for this you blame the democrats for failing to get Bush under control.

Me, I blame Bush for not using the actual inherent power of the presidency, the power to persuede, the bully pulpit, and thereby failing to get the democrats under control.

MadisonMan said...

In the year 2010, if the Democrats control the House, Senate and the Presidency, they'll still be crying that it's Bush's fault.

That's only 1 year after Bush leaves office. I still hear It's Clinton's fault 6 years later.

If I were a Democratic Leader in DC, I would tie Troop Support to a Tax Increase. Why not have something poison for everyone in a bill? If no one's happy about a compromise, isn't that a good thing? Bonus: Then every Senator will have to vote to raise taxes, or to cut support for Troops. Try running for President on that platform!

Ann Althouse said...

ASX, you're comment ignores the words "on the issue that the elections were supposedly all about."

Those of you who think Congress can just cut funding and end the war or bar the surge or whatever ought to study what Biden said.

Hamsun56 said...

US involvement in Vietnam effectively ended when Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974. I'm sure the Dems could purpose similar legislation if they really wanted to, but they wouldn't have the votes to override Bush's likely veto.

Freder Frederson said...

What can the Democrats do that will leave them blameless?
Nothing.

So what will they do?
As much nothing as possible.


Yet Bushs' plan appears to be "what can I do that will prevent the situation from getting any worse for the next two years so I can pass off this whole mess I have created to the sucker who wins the election in '08?"

Do you really believe that the "surge" (or whatever cutesy name the president comes up with on Wednesday) is a plan to win (no matter how loosely you define "win")? It will be simply be too little too late. And because of the bad decisions of the last four years the president couldn't even commit to the type of surge that would really have a chance of succeeding. The military simply doesn't have the manpower to commit.

So the next two years will be all about staying the course and shifting the blame.

In the year 2010, if the Democrats control the House, Senate and the Presidency, they'll still be crying that it's Bush's fault.

Fairs fair. Six years into Bush's administration everything is still apparently Clinton's fault.

SteveR said...

“If the president chooses to escalate the war, in his budget request we want to see a distinction between what is there to support the troops who are there now,” she said.

I have to assume she is a smart person, so therefore have to assume she thinks most people are stupid.

AllenS said...

Sorry Ann, but when Biden said: "When we wrote the Constitution", I didn't think he had a good grasp of the situation.

Problem: How do you make words italic?

Gahrie said...

" Bush will not be able to transfer my Social Security savings"

What? Are you really that ignorant? You have no "Social Security savings".

Social security is not a savings account, a 401k or an annuity. It is insurance. Its proper name is Social Security Insurance.(SSI) You have been paying premiums, not depositing funds. One of the major flaws of SSI is that everyone treats it as an entitlement, or some form of annuity. If SSI was only paying out to those who actually need it, it would not be in the dire staits it is in. That money is no longer yours, and the chances that there will be money to make significant paymnents to you are not good.

Tim said...

"What can the Democrats actually do about Iraq?"

Quite a lot, if they were so inclined. From my perspective, they could stop aiding and supporting the enemy by no longer signaling them we are thiisss close to retreating from Iraq in defeat.

Then they could actually try to find a way to help win the war, but that would require them actually thinking it important for the US to defeat militant Islamic fascism.

And they could also begin to actually think about what would happen in Iraq, and to our military, and to us in the larger war on militant Islamic fascism, were we to surrender in defeat to the enemy.

But that isn't likely any time soon.

So they're in a box. Too weak to actively support the defeat they yearn for; too craven to tell their defeatist voters it isn't in the US's interest to lose the war; too dependent upon the enemy defeating us in Iraq so their finger prints aren't on the defeat, and all before the '08 election season begins to gel. Too sad.

Pogo said...

Biden's wrong.
While Congress can't micromanage the war, it can simply cut funding overall for the military, knowing that the war is effectively de-funded.

But Biden and the Democrats are too afraid to do that, seeing how much more comfortable it is to pretend the our hands are tied.

I would contrast the whining, wheedling, and cowardly Dem response to Abraham Lincoln's approach:

In the book, Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography by William Lee Miller, Lincoln voiced strong opposition to the Mexican War, believing it to be unjustified and that that Pres. Polk was wrong about its immediate cause (the first skirmish may not have been on US soil, but in Mexico, after all). He voted for the Ashmun amendment which stated that this war was "unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the president...".

Later, in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, he insisted "on his (and the Whig's) distinction between voting for supplies, which they would do, and affirming the righteousness of the war's beginning, which they would not do". Miller adds that Lincoln went beyond a simplistic absolute moral purity in denying the validity of the war AND therefore refusing to fund it, unlike John Quincy Adams and the Immortal Fourteen who voted against the Polk bill even though it provided supplies for for the troops already in battle.

Lincoln's reasoning, asserts Miller, exhibited much greater moral complexity. Lincoln wanted to expose what he felt was a dubious casus belli, but was also concerned about "the validity of claims by the men and the nation in battle now that it had in fact begun." [pp.150-180]

Tim said...

"Why should we try to come up with a compromise policy with him?" asks Mike Ward, a former congressman who was back at the Capitol for opening-day festivities. "If we do that, we take ownership of the war. Why would we want to do that?"

Maybe, just maybe, it's more important to win wars than elections?

Maybe, just maybe, it's in America's interest to win the war, although Democrats clearly think it isn't in their best interest for America to win the war.

Maybe, just maybe, because some Democrats are Americans before they are Democrats?

But remember, above all else, no matter how much Democrats aid and assist the enemy, we dare not question their patriotism.

Not ever.

Anonymous said...

See up above the comment box? Use the (i) (except it uses < and >) to open the italics and then use (/i) to close them.

I was going to make a great comment along the lines of, "The last time there was an argument over funding a war President X told Senator Y, 'I have enough money to send the troops there, if you ever want to get them back you'll have to give me more money.'"

But I can't find the danged quote! Every search I come up with goes straight to Andrew Sullivan as the top result and none of the results have the quote I'm looking for.

Anybody know?

Todd and in Charge said...

Ann's asking a bit of a loaded question. It may be politically expedient (or not) for Pelosi to make folks think Congress can have a meaningful role in curbing the Executive's war powers, but in reality there is very little that can be done, as Biden inartfully said.

David said...

I don't see any serious investigations on the horizon against President Bush. It would shine an unwelcome light on the Plame game, NSA wiretaps that were upheld as legal, how many democrats voted for the war and why, Joe Lieberman's win over the cable guy, the tremendous success in Iraq that is unreported by the Media which is also involved in falsifying data to corrupt public perception of the military's effort there.

As for social security, the best example is the removal of the Railroad Retirement monies from the general fund. That money was getting zero interest until it was turned over to the neutral third party that is correctly investing it in safe mutual funds. As stated earlier, the Social Security monies now earn zero interest as money is disbursed to retirees leaving the rest to earmarks for political favors.

In the meantime, the stock market is in bull mode and anyone who is not investing in it is passing up 10 to 15 per cent interest compounded per year. Social security will keep you in cat food when you retire and a broom closet in some assisted living facility when you are in depends diapers.

Sloanasaurus said...

There is another problem that is starting to creep up on opponents of the war. It is what happens if we pull out of Iraq?

For the past three years the war critics and the media have been attacking claims that the war in Iraq is part of the war on terrorism and will reduce terrorism. They said there is no proof. It is something that is hard to prove other than after a conflict is over.

Time marches on. It has been more than 5 years since the terrorists launched a successful terrorist attack in America and their other terrorist attacks around the world have been too few to cause any lasting impact.

Now after 5 years, the burden of proof is now starting to fall on the critics and the media. Tell us, critics and media, why we haven't been attacked. You said that we would. You said that invading Iraq would create more tterrorists and cause more attacks. Yet there have been ZERO attacks. It is now lookingly likely that the Invasion of Iraq has contributed to the zero attacks. Now it looks like Bush was right that the invasion of Iraq has led to the defeat of the terrorists. We have killed thousands of terrorists in Iraq. What would the terrorists be doing if we wern't fighting them there.

Five years and no attacks. Why? Why? Why? There are thousands of terrorists and many more angered by the Iraq war yet no attacks. I would like to know....

Sept 11 cost $1 trillion and 3000 lives all from one attack. It has cost us $500 billion and 3300 lives to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq over 5 years.

The war is going to cost us, it just depends on where and how you want to spend the money.

Too Many Jims said...

Five years and no attacks. Why? Why? Why? There are thousands of terrorists and many more angered by the Iraq war yet no attacks. I would like to know....

By that measure, the policies we pursued in the 90s were great. there were 7 or 8 years between the first and second WTC attacks.

(If you are going to include the African embassay bombings and the Cole before 9/11 then you should prbably include the numerous terrorist attacks on our military and the (unsuccessful) Syrian embassy attack.)

Anonymous said...

You need a re-fill on that kool-aid David. Wow.

Freder Frederson said...

Then they could actually try to find a way to help win the war, but that would require them actually thinking it important for the US to defeat militant Islamic fascism.

And what exactly has Bush done after the "mission accomplished" speech to find a way to help win the war. What exactly is his strategy? Certainly not "stay the course", it has never been stay the course.

There are over a thousand M-1s awaiting overhaul at the Anniston Army Depot (the situation is similarly dire for all classes of equipment from small arms to helicopters) yet Rumsfeld never asked for the Depots to operate more than 8 hours a day and when the army last year finally said enough is enough and demanded $27 billion specifically to repair worn out equipment, the Administration rejected their request.

If we really want to win this war we need a bigger active duty military. But we have yet to commit to a bigger force and not once has the President asked the American people to make a single sacrifice--not drive one mile less, not pay one dollar in taxes to pay for this supposed struggle for our very existence, not one call to put our lives on the line by volunteering for the military--for this generational struggle.

So before you accuse the Democrats of doing nothing to help win this war, perhaps you should ponder exactly what the president has done to show he is serious about winning the war.

Thorley Winston said...

Gerald Hibbs, I believe the president was Theodore Roosevelt who sent the US Navy halfway around the world without Congress’ support and told them that if they wanted to bring it back, they would have to appropriate money for it. At least that's what I recall from my 7th grade history class.

me said...

Bravo Freder. Exactly what I have been asking o these long years of war. Where is the victory garden (updated perhaps to victory carpooling)? Why no bumper sticker that says "Support the troops, buy war bonds" (in lieu of a tax)? Where is the program for young people to serve at least in support roles?

Sloanasaurus said...

By that measure, the policies we pursued in the 90s were great. there were 7 or 8 years between the first and second WTC attacks.

It was during that time that Osama built his camps and trained his militia after he took control in Afghanistan in 1998. After 9-11 everyone said we would be attacked again shortly. There were millions of Muslims angry with us.

Osama had world popularity and a large group of followers after 9-11 scattered throughout the world.

Since then his army has been liquidated in Iraq. The critcs said all the muslims were outraged with us and that it would increase the amount of terrorism against us.

It hasn't. The critics were wrong. In fact it has been 5 years with NO attacks.

No attacks after 5 years! The burden of proof is now with the Critics. Prove that the invasion of Iraq did not make us safer... The results imply that it did make us safer.

Call on the dems to put the proof with the pudding. Pull out our troops... what happens then if we are attacked....

I wonder where a Mohammad Atta would go today to fight America. Would he go to Iraq to fight Americans instantaneously or would he become part of a cell in America and plan an attack for two years.

No attacks after 5 years. Why?

Sloanasaurus said...

What exactly is his strategy? Certainly not "stay the course", it has never been stay the course.

Bush's strategy was to fight the war on terror in Iraq and at the same time remake Iraq into a stable democracy so that it would be an ally in the middle east and able to fight the war with us.

This has been the strategy ever since.

The strategy against the terrorists has worked. NO terrorist attacks in the US in 5 years. Al Qaeda has had no strategic victories only defeats (except for maybe the Spanish elections). The strategy to remake Iraq into a democracy is still in progress. But we will prevail.

Alpha Liberal said...

An Althouse fib:
"Nothing the Democrats can do at all."

That's not the message from either speaker. Althouse distorts the Dems constantly, and substitutes their own words with her view of what they really meant.

That's an intellectualy dishonest practice.

ASX said...

Ann said:
And that's what you got out of the big '06 elections on the issue that the elections were supposedly all about.

Ann,
If, as you suggest, Democrats got nothing from the "big '06 elections," then why did you get depressed afterwards?

AllenS said...

See up above the comment box? Use the (i) (except it uses < and >) to open the italics and then use (/i) to close them.

Above the comment box doesn't say how to close them, they way you describe. So, let's try this.

Sigivald said...

To give Sen. Biden all due credit, as far as I know he's always been very much aware of the Constitution's requirements. (And evidently something of a Hawk, even if he opposed/es the specific timing and implementation of the Iraq war.)

For instance, he countered the (stupid) claim that Congress never issued a Declaration of War, in Constitutional terms, regarding Iraq.

(JB: The answer is yes, and we did it. I happen to be a professor of Constitutional law. I'm the guy that drafted the Use of Force proposal that we passed. It was in conflict between the President and the House. I was the guy who finally drafted what we did pass. Under the Constitution, there is simply no distinction ... Louis Fisher(?) and others can tell you, there is no distinction between a formal declaration of war, and an authorization of use of force. There is none for Constitutional purposes. None whatsoever. And we defined in that Use of Force Act that we passed, what ... against whom we were moving, and what authority was granted to the President. )

Finn Kristiansen said...

ASX said...

Foremost, in my opinion, is the fact that Bush will not be able to transfer my Social Security savings to wealthy investment bankers and privitize the system.


That would indeed be a tragedy to see billions in new money flowing into pension and mutual funds, and then through investment bankers hands (via IPO's)thus funding new American companies. Yea, uh huh.

In any case, and to the point of the question posed in this post,some Democrats can and will do nothing because they have opted for a strategy of largely keeping their hands "clean" in the hopes it all blows up and everyone else comes out dirty.

And while I believe that no Democrat wants to see people die, or America fail, more than a few have managed to compartmentalize the problems of Iraq in such a fashion that usurps logic.

Anonymous said...

Althouse asked: "What can the Democrats actually do about Iraq?"

I answer: Not much until they win the presidency.

Trey

Revenant said...

Althouse asked: "What can the Democrats actually do about Iraq?"

I answer: Not much until they win the presidency

She said "can", not "will". They *will* not do anything because they *will* not rob themselves of an issue that will motivate their voting base to support them. But they *could* simply say "no" the next time Bush asks for more money to fight the war. It is as simple as that -- Bush would have no option but to bring home the troops.

MadisonMan said...

After 9-11 everyone said we would be attacked again shortly. There were millions of Muslims angry with us.

Anthrax. Many forget about the unsolved terror attack on the US shortly after 9-11. Add and anthrax before everyone next time, please.

Hayek said...

Regarding the lost war, why has the Iraqi dinar continued to rise in value? What does that say about the wisdom of crowds? Do they know more then our betters at the New York Times?

ChrisO said...

Sloanasaurus: The answer to your question is vewry simple. Why should al Qaeda go to the trouble of attempting a terrorist attack in this country when we've already sent them 3,000 of our people to be killed in Iraq? I'm not being glib. Why is it that the men and women who died in Iraq don't count in your crowing about the war on terror? The first World Trade Center attack was relatively minor (thanks to some good fortune.) The next attack on our soil came in 2001. If you're going to claim that Osama building camps in Afghanistan is somehow the equivalent of a terror attack on our country, what about the 3,000 dead? And by the way, you are probably one of the last handful of people in this country that still spout the flypaper theory. You also said, "After 9-11 everyone said we would be attacked again shortly." Really? Every one said that? You know you just pulled that one out of your butt. Can you provide any kind of sourcing for that assertion?

To the larger point, Ann's original premise is a classic straw man argument that the right always seems to present. Paint a Democratic position in skewed terms, then criticize them for not sticking to that position.

First, the war wasn't "all about Iraq." While Iraq was certainly the central issue, it also represented a larger sense that the Bush administration was entirely incompetent. I'm not sure that absent Katrina and a number of other screwups the vote would have been as devastating to the Republicans.

More importantly, please point out to me where the Democratic leadership ever said they would end the war immediately upon taking power? Virtually all Democrats called for a phased withdrawal. It's unfortunate that Bush has put us in a position where there is no good option for getting out of this mess, but that's where we find ourselves. The analogy (metaphor?) that says it best is Bush and Cheney in the front seat of a car going over a cliff, turning to the Democrats in the back seat and saying "Well, what's your plan?"

As for those who accuse the Democrats of playing politics with the war, I truly hope you're kidding. Do you really think Bush just came up with the surge idea now, and that the elections had nothing to do with the timing? If you truly believe that a surge is the answer to winning this war, what do you say to the families of the service men and women who died waiting for the elections to be over?

And by the way, Pogo, Lincoln's opposition to the Mexican War made him unelectable for years afterward, and he acknowledged it as his biggest political mistake. He later said he would never again oppose his government in time of war. And he didn't say it for political reasons, but for strictly political ones. People can criticize the Democrats for voting for the war resolution, but the fact is that they had very little choice. If they had voted en masse against it, we wouold have probably had 60 Republican senators after the next election. And that to me would have been a tragic outcome for this country, given the degree to which the Republicans let Bush run roughshod for the past four years.

ChrisO said...

My graf about Lincoln should read "And he didn't say it for ethical reasons, but for strictly political ones."

jas said...

Why should al Qaeda go to the trouble of attempting a terrorist attack in this country when we've already sent them 3,000 of our people to be killed in Iraq?

ChrisO, you don't get it do you.

Do you realize how much the one attack on 9-11 has changed this country, how much one attack has cost our economy? Do you think we would be debating stem cell research if we had to spend a $trillion per year more on security.

The goal of the terrorists is to attack America in America - the goal is to terrorize us into leaving the middle east. In this they have failed. You say the flypaper theory is all bunk, well it's time for you to prove it's bunk, because the results - No attacks since 9/11 - are real.

It's time that critics like you face the music. All you have been doing is criticising Bush and his strategies - saying they are incompetent. Except, the strategy is working because the Results are what we wanted: no attacks in 5 years; America as prosperous as ever. Al Qaeda is becoming a footnote. You say it is all luck, then prove it.

Sloanasaurus said...

Virtually all Democrats called for a phased withdrawal.

Yes, except that Democrats need to start asking themselves if we withdraw (even a phased withdraw), will we be attacked in America by the terrorists we are currently killing in Iraq. They need to ask this question because since we have been in Iraq, we have not been attacked. It is quite possible that despite all Democratic/critics claims that the war in Iraq has been a failure, it has been precisely the war in Iraq that has kept use safe. The Democrats and critics need to prove that the war in Iraq has not kept us safe....after five years of no additional attacks, the burden is now on them.

Anonymous said...

Now I'm beginning to wonder if the "surge" is Karl Rove's idea. Only an idiot (Biden) would say there's nothing Congress can do about it. Pelosi is right. Congress can simply refuse to fund the surge.

Everyone who is fond of Vietnam analogies ought to look what happened to Vietnam and to the Democrats after Congress refused funding to the Vietnamese military established by the US.

Not funding the surge probably would pass the House, but not with a veto-proof majority. It is then up to the Senate. If it passed the Senate and Bush vetoed it, the Democrats would be sitting pretty because (I'm assuming that the President already has budget authority for the surge and does not have to get an appropriation for it.) because Bush would continue to have complete ownership of the Iraq issues.

Maybe Rove would advise Bush not to veto and a 2008 candidate (McCain?) could argue that the Democrats "lost" Iraq.

hdhouse said...

Why should they come to the US to pull an attack when we were so kind as to fight in a place of their choosing; undermanned and ill planned.

Why beat us here when they can beat us there.

You have now the spectacle of President Bush taking the finest military in the history of the planet with the best trained troops there ever were anywhere and putting them in a place with no purpose except Bush's ego and the flow of dollars to contractors.

What can we do about Iraq? Get rid of Bush. That's the first step.

me said...

Sloan, how can you argue that the war in Iraq has kept us safe? Do you think the terrorists are just too stupid to attack us in America, since Iraq is oh so tempting? If the troops left Iraq, the terrorists would look around and so "duhh, let's go attack America now"? They know attacks in Baghad don't have much affect back in America. Their ultimate goal is still to attack us on our soil. How does the war in Iraq prevent them from trying to reach this goal? Is Iraq a huge magnet all the terrorists are drawn too? The terrorists are not stupid. They are psycho fanatics who don't think rationally about some things, but if their goal is to destroy America, they know as well as you and me that roadside bombs in Iraq don't cut it.