Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Senate Shows Testicular Atrophy, Passes Worthless Iraq Bill

File under "Why Did They Even Bother":
The Oregon Senate went on record Tuesday against President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq and urged Congress to begin redeploying U.S. forces.

The measure, purely advisory, did not set a date for troops to come home, unlike a separate bill passed by the House and one passed by Congress.

Senators voted 19-11 to support Senate Memorial 1, largely along party lines.

The vote came on the fourth anniversary of President Bush's declaration that major hostilities in the Iraq war were over, as he stood aboard a U.S. warship in front of a "Mission Accomplished" banner. [emph mine]
I strongly disagreed with those who said that HJM 9, the House's version of a statement on Iraq, was a meaningless exercise; it made a firm statement of opposition to the war and demanded that Congress seek the return of our soldiers--particularly Oregon's soldiers, who as National Guard servicepeople in many cases are supposed to be here helping us at home, not getting killed for someone else's civil war. It was plain-spoken and direct, and was a victory for truth. Moreover, while Republicans were consulted on the bill and some amendments made by Iraq veteran Brian Boquist, the heart of the bill was left unchanged: stop the war.

But this...this was truly was a pointless effort: defanged, mush-mouthed, and demonstrative of the worst controversy-avoidant tendencies among Democrats regarding the war. How else can one put it?--our Senate Democrats pussed out. They can't even bring themselves to simply demand that our men and women be rescued from the meatgrinder before more of them perish needlessly, and that's disgraceful.

If you listen to the committee hearing {.ram file} on the set of bills the Senate considered last week, you'll hear Majority Leader Kate Brown's conflict-avoidant commentary on their conflict-avoidant bill. Somewhere along the line the Democratic caucus got the idea that their Republican counterparts had an honest interest in assessing the war, so they set about watering HJM 9 down in order to take into account the "very diverse views in the Senate" and craft a "consensus measure that would have broad support." Brown is explicit about why the language is so support-the-troops focused, and why any reference to actually DOING something about it was stripped: "We tried to reflect the broadest perspective possible." Funny, I would have thought the best strategy was to reflect the facts on the ground, come to a rational conclusion, and then ask for support and endorsement of the truth.

How were Democrats repaid for their obeisance? After turning granola into oatmeal to appease Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli and his crew, what was his response? To him, the bill still "crosses the line in taking an opposition stance," and while he gave it a courtesy committee vote to bring it to the floor yesterday, he made clear his final vote would be no. And how many Republicans did the concession to gutlessness attract? Zero. The bill passed 19-11, likely just the same as it would have had they simply voted on HJM 9, with the same kind of timelines and statements of fact as the US Congressional version vetoed yesterday.

And that's the sad irony: on a day when national Democrats showed strong unity in bucking a commander in chief's facile protestations of surrender, and gave millions hope that maybe our votes for a change election were actually heard, our surely just-as-enlightened Senate caucus used the same "Mission Accomplished" anniversary backdrop of May 1 to accomplish...well, I'm not sure what they accomplished. They forced 11 Senate Republicans to cast a vote for indefinite war for our bravest citizens, and that will be useful next fall in campaigns against some of them. Clearly they're beyond hope, refusing any and all life preservers of political sanity. But I don't expect much from them. For the Democrats, I would have thought they'd have had the guts to take the simple step of calling for an end to this hopeless war, but I guess they're going to have to spend the summer growing a pair before we'll see that kind of political will. Thanks for nothing.