Hang The Monday Vote Around The GOP's Neck
As the surge-related security operation has begun in Baghdad today, word comes that another American helicopter went down northwest of Baghdad, and the AP reports that more troops have been lost in the last four months that at any point since the war started.
Sure, Fox and CNN spent most of their time these last two days covering the story of the female astronaut rather than the developments on the Iraq surge resolution, which allows the GOP to get away with their stalling tactics and enabling of this war for another week or two. But my question this morning is centers on what the Democrats should do now that the GOP has made it clear they want to defend the war and the surge for as long as they can without paying a political price for it.
It is likely that any resolution that now comes out of the Senate will be an even weaker version of the Levin-Warner resolution that Warner walked away from on Monday, and that version was pretty weak already. Why should Democrats give these vulnerable GOP senators, Warner included, even that much cover? Democrats should take the action by Warner and others and hang it around their necks until the GOP makes the next move, but as I suggested earlier in the week, the next resolution should even be stronger, not weaker than what was on the floor Monday. The GOP should not be rewarded for what they did Monday; they should be hurt.
Reid and Durbin have the right idea it appears: their attitude towards the GOP yesterday indicated that the GOP is accountable for their vote on Monday, and any pleas by Mitch McConnell for face-saving alternate resolutions the remainder of this week are DOA.
"This is all a game to divert attention from the fact that we have before us now an issue that the American people want us to address," Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said on the Senate floor, nodding across the aisle to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
"What we're asking by any standard is reasonable," answered McConnell. "It is not too late to have the debate this week."
Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) disagreed, declaring last night that the Iraq debate was over and that Democrats would move on today to other legislation.
This is exactly the right way to go. The train has left the station for anything that John Warner, Chuck Hagel or the rest of the class of 2008 want to hide behind now. Democrats should fashion a stronger resolution that can get the entire Democratic caucus behind it, and insist that the price for any GOP face-saving moves from this point forward just went up. Any Judd Gregg alternate resolutions prohibiting any cutoff of funds are off the table now, and in fact, Democrats should be ready to attach language to the 2008 Defense authorization bill that strictly limits any additional funds for Iraq to benchmarked activities tied to a withdrawal.
Democrats should give these GOP senators no more cover for their actions Monday. They should simply take over the purse strings in the 2008 budget process and signal that the GOP obstruction on Monday will be drilled into the heads of the constituents of those GOP senators back home every month between now and the 2008 election. Hand the Monday vote around their necks. Reid, Schumer, and Durbin should say repeatedly "there are no moderate Republicans; there are only George Bush Republicans and Democrats. That is the choice voters have."
This war is the GOP's war, and Democrats should no longer consider any moves or pleas from the GOP to share their burden. Yes, the GOP whiners like McCain will bellow that the Democrats have an obligation to offer an alternative, but McCain and Warner aren't offering one themselves except to continue the Bush war. To those who say that such an approach by the Democrats is simply political and shows a disregard for the possible troop losses over the coming months, I would reply that it is the GOP through their vote Monday that is quite willing to continue the carnage and it is the GOP that doesn't care about the troops. The Democrats don't have the numbers yet to take control of this war. They tried to do the will of the people Monday and got stopped by the White House and GOP. More than ever, this war is Bush and the GOP's responsibility. Make them eat it.