House Iraq Resolution: Bait, switch and spin Posted by: mcq
on Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Some things you should know about the coming resolution by the Democratic House on the Iraq. The entire thing is a setup, using the power of the majority, to manufacture a particular point of view with which even all the Democratic members most likely don't agree, by limiting debate and banning alternative resolutions.
The concerns of members like Donnelly are behind Democrats' strategy for this week's Iraq debate, which was carefully calibrated to bar votes on a GOP alternative that could expose a potentially messy divide within Democratic ranks over whether to cut off or restrict funding for troops on the ground.
Determined to send an unambiguous and bipartisan message of disapproval for the troop buildup, Democrats moved Monday night to block Republicans from proposing any alternative, including one that would have guaranteed funding for U.S. forces in Iraq.
Note the repeated reference to parliamentary tricks to limit debate and block alternative resolutions. This after promising the minority that they'd be given that opportunity.
Democratic leaders had said earlier that Republicans would have a chance to offer their own measure, but quickly reversed course, and the leadership-controlled Rules Committee voted Monday night to deny the minority the option.
Wow. Sounds like the Republican majority of the last Congress the Democrats so condemned and promised, should they be given power, to run in a fair and bi-partisan manner.
And all of this for a resolution which, in a legal sense, means absolutely nothing.
However in a political sense, it does have some weight and, more than anything, it will put Democrats on the record. And at least some of them aren't so darn sure they want to be on the record. As is intimated above, that, of course, is the purpose of offering only one resolution - to ensure 'party unity' even if there really isn't any. Apparently it became clear to the Democratic leadership that if they allowed alternatives to be introduced, some Democrats, especially freshmen from marginal districts, might opt for one of them.
The solution - vote for this or nothing.
Of course spin works both ways. And my guess is Republicans, if they're smart, will spin such a vote as meaning that Democrats a) don't support the war, thus b) they don't support the troops and that leads to c) cutting off funding for the troops.
"B" and "c", whether or not true, could come back to haunt some Democrats. For instance:
Will Marshall of the center-left Democratic Leadership Council has consulted with freshman Democrats on Iraq. He said there is "broad unity on the fact that we have to start winding the occupation down, not doubling down on it, but after that, I think it's harder to find consensus."
The dilemma is especially profound for newer members.
"They're in marginal districts, competitive districts, almost by definition, so most of them would be leery of voting to cut off funding for the troops. It would be too easy to be caricatured by the Republicans as turning against the troops in the middle of a mission," Marshall said.
Vote for this and face the pressure from leadership to follow through with a vote on funding. If you don't vote for defunding, then you have to explain to leadership and they control your destiny. You also have to explain to constituents why you voted against the surge and then funded it. Vote for both and you get to explain why you abandoned the troops during your next campaign.
The level of Democratic desperation is to be found in the draconian measures they are having to use to force a vote on only one resolution (after promising to allow alternatives). In fact, they acknowledge they're bullying this through:
Democrats concede that by flexing their muscles to constrain the minority, they risk becoming what they criticized during last year's elections.
"We're going to run a fair House, but we're not going to be naive about it." said Stacey Farnen Bernards, Hoyer's spokeswoman. "We're just trying to give the American people a clear debate and a clear answer" on Iraq.
In reality they're not giving the American people either a clear debate or a clear answer. They'll give them a wholly manufactured "sense of the House" which will neither reflect its true sense or the dissenting view.
That, according to the Hoyer camp, constitutes running a "fair House".
Take it all with the appropriate grain of political salt. But understand one thing ... as the school principal likes to say, this will go on their "permanent record" and should Iraq start to turn around by the end of '08 many Democrats and some Republicans will rue the day they allowed themselves to be so badly manipulated.