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Democrats Retaliate with Symbolic Votes

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Last year when John Murtha was advocating the full and immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, and Republicans were still in full control of Congress, the GOP forced a symbolic vote in the House of Representatives on whether or not to withdraw troops from Iraq immediately. The goal was simple; force Democrats to vote for something they really didn't want or believe in - and then have to defend it - or side with Republicans and be on record as being against an immediate withdrawal.

I am not an avid viewer of C-SPAN, the network which shows live video from inside both chambers of Congress while they are in session, except under special circumstances. I watch when there is something big going on, and figured that such a punitive vote was going to loose the fireworks. I wasn't disappointed. The normally professional and cool House floor was swarming with people yelling at other people who were trying making speeches, often drowned out by a chorus of boos and heated arguments. It was the first time that I've seen our elected representatives mimic the British House of Commons, which is always entertaining to watch if you get a chance.

Democrats were understandably upset that Republicans would call what would otherwise be such an important vote, simply to score political points and kick the Dems in the shin. I was a bit horrified myself, and wondered whether or not the country had put the elder GOP statesmen in charge of Congress, or a bunch of assholes fresh out of highschool.

In the end, the Republicans got what they wanted. Dems voted against the withdrawal with the exception of a brave handful of Representatives, and Republicans got their cookies. I choose to believe that it was an immature and unprofessional act that resulted in the GOP being shown the door last November. Many would disagree, choosing instead to believe that it was simply an national referendum on President Bush's failed foreign policy, and a Republican Congress that with nearly complete control over the system, failed to get anything done.

It now appears that with the tides turning against stay-the-course and the publics disgust with the new McCain Doctrine, newly elected Democratic leaders are looking to force-feed the crap back into Republicans mouths. For better or for worse, there is no dispute that the GOP has had this coming for a long time. The only question is, are we any better by doing the same? I think the answer is no.

Democratic leaders said Tuesday that they intended to hold symbolic votes in the House and Senate on President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Baghdad, forcing Republicans to take a stand on the proposal and seeking to isolate the president politically over his handling of the war. [...] In both chambers, Democrats made clear that the resolutions — which would do nothing in practical terms to block Mr. Bush’s intention to increase the United States military presence in Iraq — would be the minimum steps they would pursue. They did not rule out eventually considering more muscular responses, like seeking to cap the number of troops being deployed to Iraq or limiting financing for the war — steps that could provoke a Constitutional and political showdown over the president’s power to wage war.

Ultimately it is Congress that makes the law, and while the President has the sole authority to command and deploy the military, it is well established via the War Powers Act of 1973 that Congress does have the authority to regulate to a degree what the President can and cannot do and when. Congress may argue that absent a declaration of war, the President is in violation of the War Powers Act and the constitution, having essentially turned the military into his own personal militia.

The difference between the Republicans actions last year and what the Democrats are preparing to do now is that the Senate was not involved in these games during the last session. With a concurrent resolution between both houses, the pressure though not legal, is still significant, and can be used as a pretext and justification for further action at a later date, should the President choose to escalate the war.

According to the Times article, the GOP believes that as many as 10 Republicans in the Senate will vote for the resolution denouncing troop escalation, moving it beyond the procedural hurdle of a potential filibuster.

“Twice in the past 12 months the president has increased troop levels in a last-ditch effort to control the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Iraq,” said Representative Martin T. Meehan, Democrat of Massachusetts, who proposed a resolution opposing a troop increase. “Rather than cooling tensions in Baghdad, the situation has descended further into chaos.”

Leave it to the attack wing of the conservatives to turn this into a condemnation -- not of Democrats plans to waste valuable time that they should be using to undo damage done by the past Congress -- but to say that this symbolic vote somehow means that we Dems love the bad guys.

It’s amazing how often the Democrat party will go out of it’s way to insure the United States is NOT secure and to demand that we surrender because they do not want to be bothered to protect American Citizens. Instead, the Democrat party and the Socialist in power want to Rule with an Iron Fist over US Citizens and ensure they do NOT succeed in anything and make US Citizens pay for their own lynching.

First I have to ask how invading another sovereign country that represented no threat to us at the time was an act that protected American citizens. I doubt anyone from the right will be able to answer that, because it has been well established that Iraq did not represent a threat to any other country in the Middle East, much less the last superpower on Earth. Think about that for a moment, the guys on the right are saying that a decrepit beaten down Third World military posed a threat to a superpower. They are saying that America is so weak, that post-Gulf War Iraq could hurt us. Have Republicans done such a horrible job over the past 12 years that a puny Gulf state represented a threat to us? I'm not sure they want to make that argument, it's admitting their own failure.

Go beyond that and you get the accusation that putting a symbolic resolution through Congress that will likely have the support of some Republicans and must be agreed to by a majority to pass -- this somehow means Democrats are ruling with an iron fist. I find the notional laughable. Ruling with an iron fist means not allowing Democrats to introduce legislation, amendments, hold hearings, or even be inside the room when committees close the doors to the public. Ruling with an iron fist is threatening to strip the minority of the only right they have: the right to filibuster, just so they won't be annoying anymore. Look in the mirror son, Republicans have defined ruling with an iron first over the past decade.

The majority of the country is now behind a phased troop withdrawal, as is the majority of Congress. The only person who isn't is President Bush, and his time is quickly running out. To dump more troops into a country that would likely take a force three times larger to completely dominate is simply insane. It's time to bring our troops home.

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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.