Wednesday, February 07, 2007

No Resolution To Iraq Resolution Talks

President Bush has supposedly bucked up Senate Republicans to block any resolutions against the "surge."

He is relying heavily on expert practitioners of the legislative arts, like Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell offered the day's biggest concession, proposing to shelve a resolution written by McCain that would establish tough benchmarks for the Iraqi government without opposing the additional U.S. troops.

But Republicans continued to demand that the two remaining resolutions -- one written by Warner and Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), and a pro-Bush proposal from Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) -- meet a 60-vote threshold to pass.

Republicans are advocating the Gregg resolution because they know, as do Democrats, that only it could garner 60 votes. Gregg's proposal would recognize the power of the president to deploy troops as well as the "responsibility" of Congress to fund them.

Democrats regard the measure as a political stunt but are loath to go on the record opposing it, for fear of giving the impression that they would harm troops in the field. They also recognize that a vote in favor of Gregg would amount to a tacit endorsement of Bush's troop plan.

With the following talking point, McCain and others indicate that they think that U.S. troops are stupid enough to conflate the political goal of extricating the United States from a military fiasco with a lack of support for, or confidence in, the troops themselves:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called Democrats disingenuous for declaring support for U.S. troops while denouncing their commander in chief's strategy. Troops serving in Iraq "won't buy it," McCain said. "A vote of no confidence is a vote of no confidence."

Even McCain must realize that he is spouting bullshit.

Some Democrats, however, fear being tarred with just that brush:

There was the Democratic desire to avoid getting tied up on any vote that could be perceived as undercutting United States troops or endorsing Mr. Bush's plan. At the same time, a surprising number of Republicans showed they were not yet ready to abandon the president even though many blame him for their November election losses and worry he will hurt them again next year. Then there were the presidential ambitions of several senators who are trying to distinguish themselves from others on the issue, and have little incentive to seek common ground.

Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders scheduled a war debate to begin next Tuesday, culminating with a vote aimed at repudiating Bush's plan.

House Democrats had intended to work with the resolution offered by Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), which Senate Democrats have rallied behind. Instead, after assessing the morass on the other side of the Capitol, they are now considering a more narrow statement of objection to Bush's proposal.

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