Warner's Decision Impacts Iraq Debate
I don’t think the White House should assume that John Warner will cave next month. He’s now liberated to oppose them on Iraq.
Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, one of the most authoritative voices in Congress on the military and a key figure in the debate over Iraq, said Friday he will not seek a sixth term in 2008.
This is a real pickup opportunity for Democrats next year, with former governor Mark Warner having the inside track to get this seat.
As for the impact of Warner’s decision upon the Iraq debate, word comes today that Harry Reid is negotiating with Senate Republicans for a way forward towards withdrawal without calling it withdrawal. Jeffrey Feldman at Frameshop and DailyKos correctly question why in hell Reid is even negotiating with the Republicans at all, when the GOP has already set the ground rules to avoid calling the end result a withdrawal or deadline.
As I suggested weeks ago, Democrats should take one more shot at tying the next round of funding to a firm deadline, such as August 2008. Failing that, Democrats should push for a mission change and the Murtha/Webb rotation and troop readiness approach tied to the Salazar/Alexander bipartisan Iraq Study Group approach as a middle ground. And if McConnell threatens to filibuster even that approach, then Democrats should push back from the table like Feldman suggests, and force McConnell to line up the votes to pass a no-strings funding resolution that Democrats can hang around the GOP and Blue Dogs’ necks next year.
The Post piece this morning about Reid’s efforts to reach out and find a middle ground confirms something else I suggested months ago: the GOP will work with the Democrats on a withdrawal bill, as long as Reid allows them to save face by not calling it a withdrawal bill. And Warner’s liberation from having to worry about 2008 only strengthens those efforts now.