Regardless of what ultimately comes out of the Senate with respect to a non-binding resolution on the escalation on Iraq, or on Iraq in general, the republicans have handed the Democrats a gift in what can be called the smallest of consolations in the illegal occupation of Iraq.
And regardless of whether American voters wanted change or wanted bi-partisanship (as many of the republicans who refuse to accept the reality of an ass-whooping like to say), the bi-partisanship that Americans wanted was “Iraq Study Group”-style. Certainly NOT more of the same tired failed policies in Iraq with a shiny new label.
So, with the vote in the Senate yesterday to block the debate on two specific proposals on Iraq – it doesn’t matter how the republicans are spinning this vote. They have been branded as “blocking debate on troop increases”. And with this, they are now saddled with the impression that they are once again banding together to put party over country – to deny the American public what they wanted when they voted overwhelmingly in November, and at a time when poll after poll indicates that an exit strategy from Iraq is what is wanted more than anything else.
We know that first impressions are very difficult to overcome – witness the “flip flop” meme, even though this was nonsense. But if you take a look at the roundup from today’s major newspapers, it doesn’t look too good for the republicans.
LA Times: GOP bats down resolution debate. The most serious congressional challenge to President Bush's Iraq war strategy stalled Monday when Senate Republicans blocked consideration of a resolution criticizing his plan to boost troop levels.
That was the first paragraph. What about the Washington Post?
GOP Stalls Debate on Troop Increase. A long-awaited Senate showdown on the war in Iraq was shut down before it even started yesterday, when nearly all Republicans voted to stop the Senate from considering a resolution opposing President Bush's plan to send 21,500 additional combat troops into battle.
That isn’t going to play well with the roughly 60% who are against the escalation. And the WaPo story was on Page A1.
As for the NY Times:
GOP Senators Block Debate on Iraq Policy. Republicans on Monday blocked Senate debate on a bipartisan resolution opposing President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq, leaving in doubt whether the Senate would render a judgment on what lawmakers of both parties described as the paramount issue of the day.
But it doesn’t stop there. Every business traveler and vacationing American will find the following in their USA Today outside their hotel door when they wake up:
Vote on Iraq is blocked by GOP. Republicans blocked the Senate from delivering a politically embarrassing rebuke of President Bush's Iraq policy Monday in a maneuver that could have implications for the conduct of the war and for next year's elections.
Even in places like Kentucky and Utah, the headlines or opening paragraph of the stories talk of republicans blocking a vote and debate on Iraq.
I may be mistaken here, but it would seem to me that this is something that Americans won’t soon forget. If there is to be any meaningful legislation, then it will be “despite republican efforts to block it”. If there is not anything meaningful, or if there is further bickering, it will now fall under the cloud of “GOP in favor of ‘more of the same’ in Iraq”. Any republicans up for reelection in 2008 now are saddled with more than just the “rubber stamp” of the prior 6 years. They now will have the “supporting party over country in blocking change of direction in Iraq”.
Of course, I hope that any efforts and actions taken will not result in additional death and can help bring some form of stability long enough to get our troops redeployed safely. However, with the details of the events unfolding and military leaders inclucing the Joint Chiefs of Staff indicating that they are not only against this escalation, but even if there was to be an escalation it would need way way way more than 25,000 troops I am not hopeful.
In that case, I unfortunately can not think that things will turn around for the better over the next two years. In that case, an even more pissed off public will resent the fact that even the Democratic efforts that we here deem to fall way short of meaningful were being blocked by republicans will come back to haunt them and bite them in the ass. And any thoughts or dreams by the republicans to make the Iraq debacle a “Democratic” or even a “bi-partisan” responsibility have taken a serious body blow with their actions yesterday.
But hey, if there is a small silver lining in this horrific cloud of blood and violence, it is the fact that the republicans took a giant step yesterday towards making themselves a minority party for many more years.