Friday, February 16, 2007

How Will Waldo (and then Gordo) Vote?

After a week of discussion, the US House is expected to vote this afternoon on the non-binding bill of no confidence in the Iraq debacle. There's been virtually no question about where the four Democratic members of Oregon's delegation stand; the only question that remained was where Republican Greg Walden (OR-2) would choose to stand. I asked the question repeatedly of spokesman Andrew Whelan's voicemail, to no avail. Finally yesterday, we got a pretty strong clue:
"I know that I stand alone in my state’s delegation by opposing this resolution that sticks it to the President. I’ve been told by some that I should just vote for this, it would be easier, politically, for me, because then the problem in Iraq is off my shoulders. It’s someone else’s problem. They will own it.

"But I cannot do that and look myself in the mirror. I cannot ignore the counsel recently given to us by diplomats in the region whose advice we ignored when America took on this challenge and who now counsel us in the strongest of terms against leaving Iraq before the country is stabilized.

"They’ve made it clear to this member of Congress that failure in Iraq will have grave and dangerous consequences to the entire region. In short, we broke it, we need to fix it before we leave.

"Given the glaring shortcomings of the non-binding resolution we have before us today, I will vote “no” for, as many of those who served in Vietnam have told me, its message does undercut our troops. Moreover, it fails to call for the increased diplomatic initiatives in the region, it fails to call for Iraq to do its part, it fails to define our strategic national interests of stabilizing Iraq so as to prevent the creation of another terrorist training haven, and it fails to address the very real needs of our National Guard.

"It is unfortunate that the opportunity to actually affect these very serious policy choices was not allowed on the Floor of the House today. It is, indeed, a missed opportunity for America."
Well, figuring out a way to beat Walden in 2008 just got a fair bit easier: he's going to stick by the worst President in history all the way, it seems.

Once that vote takes place, the Senate's Harry Reid has decided rather than trying to resurrect the blocked Warner resolution from last week, they'll simply consider the House bill instead--and do it Saturday, when lawmakers were supposed to have been getting ready for the President's Day recess. As Majority Whip Durbin put it:
"Those who've been begging for a debate will have their chance on Saturday," he said. Durbin added that it is "time for our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to face the reality. America wants a new direction in Iraq."

He criticized what Democrats call Republican efforts to prevent debate.

"Twisting us into knots with some procedural motions will not stop the power of this issue, will not stop the need for us as a nation to step forward and debate it," Durbin said.
He's talking to you, Gordon Smith. After claiming he'd sponsor the Warner bill, Smith's now-infamous fence sitting was on display again as he failed to even vote for the bill, much less sponsor it. Then he claimed that despite voting against it, he really was ready to debate the bill, promise.

So now the stage is set. If this is where Walden has planted his flag at this point, one assumes he will continue to stand behind the escalation effort as more practical and binding efforts begin to roll off the conveyor belt and onto the House floor. But what will Gordo do? Will he finally vote what he claims he's feeling, and then hold back on more constructive efforts at stopping the war? Or will he fail to find even the necessary foot-warmth to make good on his original promise? I'm done predicting; Smith has pretty well proven you simply cannot trust what he tells you ahead of time.

Popcorn, please! {munch}

Update, 945AM--
By the way, every media outlet in the state should know about the pending House vote. As far as I know, yesterday's floor speech by Walden was his first firm committment to a position on escalation. Where's the reportage, for heaven's sake? All I can find in Google News is a single piece from KTVZ, which deserves kudos for printing his statement verbatim. We're proud to be one of the primary global sources of news on Walden today, but honestly I'd rather LO's entry be farther down the list, behind actual news outlets with far more reach than us, edifying their readership about what their Congresspeople are doing on the most important issue of the day. It's an embarassment to state media that we're having to fill this gap, frankly.