February 1, 2007

Democrats, Hagel Back Down on Surrender Resolution - Slight Correction

Hatched by Dafydd

Correction: See below.

...But you would never realize it simply from reading the New York Times.

Here is the headline; when you read this, ask yourself whether that means attacks on the president's troop reinforcement are becoming harsher and more virulent -- or damping and diminishing:

Senate Critique of Bush’s Iraq Plan Wins New Support

Anybody reading just the headline would reasonably conclude that the big, anti-reinforcement snowball rolling downhill is picking up more and more support with every passing day. But wait... read the lede and second paragraphs:

A revised Senate resolution criticizing President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq, offered by Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia, drew new support today as two of the authors of a sterner resolution of disapproval said they would accept the Warner compromise.

Senators Joseph R. Biden, Democrat of Delaware, and Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, said they would back Mr. Warner’s new wording, which among other changes removed language that Democrats saw as creating a potential loophole. [How do you get a "loophole" in a non-binding resolution?]

In other words, the "new support" for the "Senate critique of Bush's Iraq War plan" consists of the sponsors of the Biden-Hagel "Surrender Swift" resolution shifting their support to Sen. John Warner's (R-VA, 88%) less confrontational "Surrender Slow" resolution.

Previously more radical reinforcement opponents are now somewhat less radical; and the Times headline portrays this as another hammerblow against President Bush's strategic change of course in Iraq.

Nor is this just a rhetorical exercise -- "oh yeah, I support that one too, if ours doesn't pass." Contrariwise, the Democrats at the moment appear to have abandoned the harsher "Surrender Swift" resolution:

Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was the third author of that plan ["Surrender Swift"]; on Wednesday night he had agreed to support Mr. Warner, the ranking Republican on that committee.

The Democratic leadership of the Senate now intends to use Mr. Warner’s proposal, co-sponsored by Senators Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, as the basis for the debate that will unfold next week, though Republicans could still raise procedural obstacles. [That is, they could -- and should -- and will filibuster.]

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT, 100%) is hopping mad, issuing a statement trashing "Surrender Slow" for not explicitly opposing the "escalation" (the Democrats' contrived word for the reinforcement and change in the rules of engagement, ROEs; it's a wonder they don't simply start referring to Sunni terrorists and Shiite death squads as "the VC").

He also charged that it doesn't explicitly demand that the United States go to Iran, hat in hand, and beg them to take over security in Iraq... an offer I'm sure Iran would be eager to accept. Their economy isn't doing very well right now, and selling off some other country's oil would be a big shot in the arm for the mullahs and President Ahmadinejad.

Finally, the Times is already preparing us for what I think is increasingly likely: that none of these resolutions can gain the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster:

Backers of the new Warner resolution will likely need to attract at least a dozen Republicans to reach the 60-vote total required to overcome a filibuster or other procedural obstacles. Six Republicans have so far voiced their support.

Yesterday it was five Republicans, with one supporting "Surrender Swift"; then Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE, 96%) backed away from the Democrats' version and instead will support the milder version ("Surrender Slow") pushed by Sen. Warner.

Not one single Republican beyond the original list has joined this "bandwagon;" in fact, two of the GOP senators who were "flirting" with signing aboard "Surrender Slow" -- probably Sen. Sam Brownback (KS, 100%) and Sen. George Voinovich (OH, 68%), but I can't be certain -- have so far refused actually to pull the trigger.

One more point, which is either sloppy writing on the Times' part -- or else a backdoor admission of further erosion. The paragraph quoted above says that "at least a dozen" GOP votes would be needed to overcome a filibuster.

But wait: There are 51 Democrats, but Sen. Joe Lieberman (R-CT, 80%) is voting against both "Surrender" resolutions. That means the Democrats start with a presumed base of 50 votes for cloture, cutting off debate and anding the filibuster. They should only need ten GOP votes to make the magic number of 60.

Correction: As Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD, 95%) is still hospitalized and cannot vote, the Democratic majority should need 11 Republican votes to break a filibuster, not 10. Correction made throughout.

Why does the Times say a dozen? Has one more Democratic senator come out against Warner -- possibly Dodd or Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI, 100%) -- on the grounds of honesty, arguing that if the Senate isn't going to cut off funding, it shouldn't even bother with non-binding monkeyshines? If so, that would make it even harder to pass anything in the poisonous congressional atmosphere that the Democrats inherited... and promptly made more noxious and noisome.

So the New York Times' headline has it exactly backwards: not only is opposition to the reinforcement and change of ROEs not growing, it's actually diminishing, from hysterical screaming down to mere grumbling. There is now less chance than before that even the Warner "Surrender Slow" resolution will pass muster in the Senate; after all this wrangling and arm-twisting, the Democrats are still six votes short of cloture.

And that is very good news indeed!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 1, 2007, at the time of 2:42 PM

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Comments

The following hissed in response by: charlotte

In other news, NYT Exec Editor Bill Keller renounced his US citizenship for a Venezuelan-Pangaeain pasaporte. “I do this because fantasizing a transcendental political future and romanticizing a Gaian past are far more compelling narratives than what actually transpires in the bourgeois chambers of the US Congress,” he said.

“America’s imagination and sense of pretend is too limited for me. Henceforth, I shall publish news-musings having nothing to do with oppressive reality on delicate pieces of birch bark harvested by noble prole hands. Slight corrections, harrumph.”

The above hissed in response by: charlotte [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 1, 2007 3:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

Hugh Hewitt seems awfully nervous about this, he seems to think the Republicans might go wobbly.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 1, 2007 4:30 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Terrye:

Hugh Hewitt seems awfully nervous about this, he seems to think the Republicans might go wobbly.

I can't guarantee that they won't. But Warner had to make his "Surrender Slow" resolution a little harsher to lure Republican Hagel and Democrats Biden, Leahy, and the others away from the Biden-Hagel resolution ("Surrender Swift"). That might actually make it harder to get the last 5-6 Republicans to turn their coats.

In fact, I think it possible that Norm Coleman, for example, might be persuaded to drop out... using the slight change as an excuse (it's a way to back down and still save his face).

So far, nobody has shown a list of 11 Republicans who will sign aboard any one resolution; and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised that he will filibuster all of them (except for the bare-bones "we support the surge" resolution that some GOP senator has proposed).

McCain will only go with his "benchmarks" res; Specter hasn't said he'll support anything (and I think by now he would have, if he intended to do so); and there is no other liberal Republican left.

They need at least five more; I don't think they can even get two more.

Until I see such a list, I'm not ready to sink into the slough of despond.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 1, 2007 5:32 PM

The following hissed in response by: Rovin

Sen. Chris Dodd (R-CT, 100%) is hopping mad, issuing a statement trashing "Surrender Slow" for not explicitly opposing the "escalation"...

The last time I checked, Chris Dodd had a "D" after his name------or did I miss a transformation?

This whole charade of political posturing is a certain roll of the dice for some----and those who choose to vote for this non-binding resolution will be etched in stone.

The above hissed in response by: Rovin [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 2, 2007 5:07 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Rovin:

The last time I checked, Chris Dodd had a "D" after his name------or did I miss a transformation?

Ow. Thanks for catching this; I made the correction.

(In my defense, the two letters are right next to each other on the keyboard; I might have attempted to type D and simply missed!)

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 2, 2007 6:51 AM

The following hissed in response by: DaveR

Here's a little missive I fired of to McCain and many other GOP Senators this morning. These twits need to think less about negotiating compromises with their opponents in the Senate, and more about the effect those weasle-words will have out here in what we voters like to call the "World"!

Dear Senator,

You are no doubt coming under intense pressure to support one or another Senate resolution concerning Iraq. You may even be sponsoring one, in the hope of reducing the negative impact of one crafted by Democrats. But I want to present to you some facts you that you should consider before you support or sponsor ANY resolution on Iraq. I’ll just lay them out for you point by point:

- Any resolution, no matter how “balanced”, is going to be spun in the media as “criticism”, and touted as “indicating waning support” for our President and our military forces.
- Any Republican support for such a resolution (even only one Republican) will allow it to be spun as “bipartisan” in the media.
- The media will make sure that the terrorists trying to kill our troops hear about any resolution that has such “bipartisan” support. The media think that is their job in this war, and they are damned eager to do it.
- When the terrorists hear about that “strong bipartisan support”, some of them that were ready to throw in the towel and surrender will decide to give it one last try. Because of that, victory will recede further, and more US soldiers will die to achieve it.

I understand how you naturally want to appeal to the greatest number of future voters. I even understand how you don’t want to get labeled as someone who is “in favor of war”.

What I cannot understand is how any Republican could knowingly play into the Democrat / media spin machine’s agenda simply for their own interests, when it will clearly get US soldiers killed. I hope that you would not even consider such a thing.

When our troops are faced with life and death decisions, they do not have the luxury of debate and compromise. They will have to decide on the spot whether to plunge forward through enemy fire to reinforce their comrades, or hang back. You, Senator, also have a choice here, but your life is not at risk, and you have time to think about it. That’s what I am asking you to do.

This American asks you to steadfastly oppose ANY resolution that does not offer 100% unconditional support for the war effort and for the troops.

Compromise with those who are themselves compromised amounts to capitulation.

That is not just a figure of speech. Horse-trading competing subjunctive phrases with your political rivals is a waste of time, Senator, because anything you have to “leave on the table” will be used as ammunition against America and our troops. As soon as any “nuanced” resolution passes, even while you are enjoying cocktails and celebrating the great “victory” of watering down some of the worst parts of it, the Democrats will be feeding those compromises as ready ammunition to the media, who will immediately fire them into the backs of our troops, and into the hearts of Americans at home.

Our troops and the majority of all Americans are dismayed by the endless negatives the Democrats and the media spew out. We can do little but shout defiance into this hurricane of hopelessness. But you can DO something here Senator, not just say something.

The Democrats and the media are heavily invested in a Senate resolution that can be used against the President and the war. That can be stopped by assuring that no compromised resolution passes, which realistically means NO resolution. There is no way that can be spun as anything but a victory for American honor, and a stinging rebuke to the Democrats and their toadies in the media. That’s called a “smack-down”, and it’s about time our side delivered one.

Our soldiers are striving for victory over there, but they are looking over their shoulders and need a victory in the war against treachery right here at home. You are being called to advance through enemy fire to reinforce the morale of the troops and the spirits of the American people, perhaps at the risk of your political career. A principled and steadfast Republican will stand up and move forward.

The above hissed in response by: DaveR [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 2, 2007 5:09 PM

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