Thursday, March 22, 2007
The Democrats insist that they were put in power last November to end the war. I believe the election was much more complicated than that, and the results showed we are still a nation sharply divided.
In any case, since the Democrats took over the House and Senate, they have (thankfully) accomplished nothing in their attempts to surrender in Iraq and undercut the democratic government we helped create in that country. Not for lack of trying -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell counted 16 plans the Democrats have proposed so far, all variations on the same theme: We need to quit now.
Try as they might, the Democrats have been unable to pass a resolution through Congress, even a non-binding resolution which was little more than a "don't blame us when things go bad" proposal. Their last vote, on a binding resolution to quit next year, failed in the Senate by a 51-48 vote.
By the way, don't be fooled by those who call these attempts an effort to "stop the war." Nobody expects the war to stop when we pull our troops from Iraq. The war will continue, will escalate and will turn into a catastrophe of monumental proportions -- it's just that we won't have troops there to defend our interests or our allies.
Meanwhile, our troops are still fighting admirably. The reinforcement plan (surge) is ongoing. General Petraeus has taken charge, and is taking the fight against the terrorists and insurgents to the streets of Baghdad. While it is early, the new tactics seem to be working, although you won't hear that on your nightly news broadcast.
So the Democrats are in a bind. They wanted to undercut the surge before it has a chance to work, but they failed. They wanted to show results to the left-wing crowd that elected them. The anti-war activists have gotten very surly. They are picketing Speaker Nancy Pelosi's house in San Francisco, and staging sit-ins in the offices of Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Last week a video appeared on YouTube showing long-time anti-war Democrat Dave Obey arguing with an anti-war operative. Clearly exasperated that his efforts were not appreciated, he explained that he had to vote FOR the war funding to end the war, exclaiming "It's time these idiot liberals understand that."
He was speaking about the emergency appropriation needed to support our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democrats want to include provisions to control troop deployments, as well as a confusing timeline leading to a troop pullout whether our goals are met or not.
Unfortunately, some of his fellow Democrats seem to be "idiots" who don't understand. Speaker Pelosi is having trouble getting the votes needed to pass the bill. Some conservative Democrats won't approve the surrender, and more than a few liberals want to cut the funds now.
In late February, they adopted a new tactic to get votes. The House Democratic leadership added almost $10 billion in non-war spending to the bill, hoping to bribe the holdouts into voting for the measure. When that failed, they added even more spending. What was once a $100 billion appropriation to support our troops has bloated into a $125 billion pork-barrel extravaganza.
This past weekend the Washington Post said "House Democratic leaders are offering billions in federal funds for lawmakers' pet projects large and small to secure enough votes this week to pass an Iraq funding bill that would end the war next year." The projects include levees, aid to spinach farmers,and peanut storage facilities. There's money for wildfire suppression and to keep saltwater out of rice paddies. There's almost $200 million for fish projects and $22 million for salaries and additional office space for House members. This spending should be addressed through the normal appropriation process, not used to pay for votes.
War is one of the most serious acts a country takes. I welcome the debate about the war, if not the Democrats' destructive focus on losing. But if we are going to vote on the war, the vote should be held on its own merits so each representative can vote his or her conscience. A vote for surrender should not be bought with taxpayer money.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Buying votes to quit the war
My Potomac News column from Thursday, March 22, 2007, "Buying votes to quit the war":