While it is nice to see the Democratic leaders in Congress are realizing that We the People are still pissed off about what is going on in our names in Iraq and are “accepting responsibility” for not doing enough, the tough-talk-followed-by-too-little-action-and-too-much-hand-wringing is something that we have already heard too many times before.
It is nice that you acknowledge, Senator Reid, that you “may have set the bar too high” (a sentiment that was shared by Armando/Big Tent Democrat, thereisnospoon and myself just the other night), that doesn’t even come close to being enough. The public wants out of Iraq. And yes, we know that is more involved than just getting our troops out immediately without though. But make no mistake - you were put in charge of Congress due in large part to the thought that you could take action to bring this illegal and bloody mess of an occupation to a close.
While there are a number of options that could accomplish this – there appears to only be one or two things available that are even feasible. Even republicans polled recently are in favor of withdrawal within the next six months. However, as the bar keeps getting moved with respect to the number of additional troops being sent and how long we are asked to wait for progress that will never come, NOW is the time to push back. And push back hard.
As indicated in the NY Times article linked above:
The proposals will not be new. Rather, Democrats intend to reprise at least four ideas when the Senate considers the Defense Department policy bill: a measure to reverse the authorization for the Iraq war, set a deadline for troop withdrawal, block money for major combat operations after March 31, 2008, and increase readiness requirements for troops to be sent back to Iraq. “On Iraq,” Mr. Reid said, “we’re going to hold the president’s feet to the fire.”
Congress can cut off funding. It can put in the “readiness measures”. It can reverse the authorization and it can set a deadline for withdrawal. However, all of these have been threatened in the past – only to have been withdrawn themselves. Consider the following:
- Readiness measures are only acceptable if no troops are actually sent until these measures are truly met – NOT if Bush “says” they are met;
- The authorization can be reversed ONLY if Congress is willing to take action when Bush continues the occupation after the authorization is reversed;
- Money can be blocked for major combat operations after March 2008 ONLY IF Congress not only follows through on this, but they also define what “major combat operations” is. And since Bush himself declared “major combat operations over” way back in his “Mission Accomplished moment”, this should be adhered to;
- A deadline can only be set if there are ramifications for such deadline to be met.
Now, all of these come with other hurdles as well. There will be an unwilling president, an unwilling opposition (yet, minority) party – and it is the minority party for a reason, and many calls that the Democrats are “defeatists”, “terrorist lovers”, “troop stranders” or whatever else. This is all bullshit and must be dealt with in a “pre-emptive strike".
No more caving in. No more Senators Levin or Obama or Biden saying that they “will not leave the troops stranded”. That is a lie. That was always a lie. Prior Congresses have imposed constraints on President Clinton. Candidate Bush in 2000 indicated that there must be clear goals and a clear exit strategy before he were to send troops into harm’s way. And most importantly, the troops are not going to be stranded without bullets.
America has your back. We see the writing on the wall and have for a good long time now. America wants a troop withdrawal deadline. This does not mean that “the terrorists” can set their calendars. Besides, where is the outrage that this administration has been funding Sunni insurgents who could easily have recently been killing our troops in exchange for a promise to not do it anymore? Why not point out how this administration is taking actions such as this?
America wants this showdown. We wanted it last month before the Democrats suddenly and inexplicably caved in. Set a date certain. Don’t allow troops who are injured, unrested, untrained or unready to be deployed. We have heard the talk from you before. And we stood behind you then, even if we were very disappointed. There is another “showdown” with funding in the upcoming budget bill. There can be other “showdowns” before then.
Make no mistake, someone must be held accountable. It most certainly should be the republicans. But if this occupation drags on without you doing ALL THAT YOU CAN – which includes standing up to a weak ineffective loser of a president with record disapproval ratings – with the vast majority of the country behind you – then sadly, it is the Democratic Party that will ultimately be held accountable for not doing its’ job.
Don’t let us down. Don’t let America down. We have heard the talk before. Talk is cheap. People are dying needlessly. Find the damn votes. Get this done.
No more cheap tough talk, and no more excuses.