A Purely Symbolic Shot Across The Bow

The United States Senate joined the House today and passed an Iraq War spending bill that includes a timetable for withdrawal of American troops:

The Senate today gave final approval to a $124 billion war spending bill that requires troop withdrawal from Iraq to begin by Oct. 1, with a goal of ending U.S. combat operations there by next March.

President Bush has pledged to veto the bill, and White House spokeswoman Dana Perino promised this morning he would act “very soon.”

The Senate approved the measure by a 51-46 vote, a day after the House passed the bill by 218-208, brushing aside weeks of angry White House rhetoric and veto threats.

“It is time to end the loss of American lives and to begin to bring our soldiers home,” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said on Senate floor this morning. “For the sake of our troops we cannot repeat the mistakes of Vietnam and allow this to drag on long after the American people know it’s a mistake.”

Today’s vote completes work on the rarest of bills: legislation to try to end a major war as fighting still rages. Democrats hope to send the measure to the White House on Monday, almost exactly four years after President Bush declared an end to major combat in a speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. That would be a particularly pungent political anniversary for Bush to deliver only the second veto of his presidency.

The problem is that, just as Bush’s landing on the Lincoln and standing below the “Mission Accomplished” banner was a purely political stunt, this spending bill is also a purely political stunt. The Democrats know that the President is going to veto this legislation and it’s fairly obvious that they do not have the votes to override the veto.

As I’ve noted before, this leaves the Democrats with two alternatives. Either they refuse to pass any supplemental war funding bill at all, meaning that money to fund the war will run out sometime in July. Or, they take the timetable language out of the bill (or turn it into a “suggestion” that either side can do with what they wish) and use the President’s veto as a political tool in 2008.

As I’ve also noted, it seems clear that while the public wants the war to end, they don’t support withholding funds from the troops while they are still there fighting.

Given this, it’s clear that what the Democrats are engaged in here is a purely political stunt and they will blink at some point in the future. That doesn’t mean it’s a dumb move politically, of course, but they should at least be honest about what they’re doing.

  • trumpetbob15

    I will admit my bias right off. I don’t want a timetable. But I have no respect for a group of people who campaigned on “bring the troops home” and then decided to put it off for one more year. Either we shouldn’t be there and let’s leave now, or when we leave is arbitrary, in which case we might as well use the mission objective as a reason to leave. I know people disagree with whether we should be there or not, but I don’t see any difference between August 2008 and President Bush saying when Iraq is safe.

    That is why I agree that this is the ultimate political stunt. And one reason why I don’t trust the Democrat Party.

  • len

    You don’t trust the Democrats?

    Do you trust the Republicans that are responsible for the following?

    1. Secret prisons
    2. Erroneous info that got us into Iraq
    3. Rumsfeld
    4. Trent Lott
    5. Gonzalez
    6. Wolfowitz
    7. Walter Reed Hospital
    8. Pure arrogance
    9. Non-existant diplomacy
    10. Reinterpretation of the Geneva Convention
    11. Total disregard for foreign government perspectives
    12. Karl Rove

    13. Total disregard for domestic voter perspectives
    14. And much much more

    I have a theory… in this Nation we are raised to cheer for our football teams… and we cheer them no matter how bad they are playing… and so it is with politics… even Nazi Germany had supporters up to the bitter end – and many of those supporters were otherwise good people. Some folks just hate to admit that their team really stinks right now.

  • http://digg.com/users/teichenauer/ Thane Eichenauer

    I don’t think that any particularly large block of Democrats or Republicans currently in Congress have any particularly strong opposition to the continued wars or occupation in Afghanistan, Iran, et al. The Out of Iraq Caucus has 73 house members.

  • trumpetbob15

    len,

    Here are my answers. I can’t stand the Republicans because they lied to us about cutting spending. But because you point out some things, I will address them.

    1. Secret prisons? I hear about some things, but is there proof and is there proof that AMERICANS were put in these prisons? Call me conservative for this, but if there are secret prisons, something tells me the people in them weren’t just pulled off the streets of France and England. Our Constitution does not protect foreigners fighting against it. I may have to listen to Americans going against the Second Amendment because of their First Amendment rights, but non-Americans are not protected.
    2. If by erronous info you mean everything that Bill Clinton, the Democrats, and the Republicans of the late 1990s were saying, then yes, we did enter under erronous info. If you are talking about “weapons of mass destruction,” perhaps you should have heard the Democrat Senator the other day on the floor of the Senate call a handgun a WMD. (Sorry, I didn’t catch his name.) Now, if you are talking about all those worthless U.N. resolutions, then perhaps you need to read up because Iraq wasn’t supposed to have the weapons that they fired against us. Now, if you want to argue the U.N. is useless and you have no disagreement with me. But until we stop supporting it, we might as well stand up to our threats (or they become worthless).
    3. What was wrong with Rumsfeld? What issue did you take with him? Don’t like his actions, blame Bush like everyone else. But, I would say he was a lot better than whoever was Sec Def during Vietnam. We keep hearing about how many American troops have died, and yes, those are our brave men and women, but they died because the media made us so afraid to blow up a dang museum that we couldn’t go in and clean out the rats. Funny you should mention Nazis since if we had to fight WWII with the same tactics, Hitler’s bunch would still be running things.
    4. Trent Lott? Again, what is your complaint? Do you just not like him or do you have a specific reason behind that?
    5. Are you against Gonzales because of the firings or do you not like his actions? Regarding the firings, totally constitutional. (Actually something that was done correctly.) I don’t know what complaint you might have about his actions, but I would compare him to Janet Reno and her actions and I don’t have anything to complain about.
    6. Wolfowitz may not be that good, but I would argue against the position rather than the man. Who actually knows what his personal beliefs are vs. what he must do in his public capacity.
    7. I take it you read the media’s account of Walter Reed rather than someone who was there. Reed is a great hospital, only old. And frankly, too many in Washington have been playing politics with its funding. For his email, please see this urban legends site.
    8. Pure arrogance? What could be more arrogant than campaigning on a promise and then going against that promise, all the while saying “We are standing up to the President?”
    9. Pardon me, but is diplomacy needed? Too often, many of the Left whine about not being diplomatic, but I rather go for results. Some people are not worth being diplomatic. (Chavez and Kim Jong Il come to mind.) I actually wouldn’t blame a Democrat for not being diplomatic to those guys.
    10. Perhaps you should re-read the Geneva Convention. Now, I will admit I haven’t read it, but I have heard that those dressed as civilians cannot engage in combat. If I am wrong, please correct me. But when a terrorist leader isn’t in fatigues, it isn’t against the Geneva Convention to put a bullet through his brain.
    11. Are we Americans or are we French? This is America; thus, we care about Americans’ beliefs. What France and Germany think are not relevant. End of discussion.
    12. I will answer this with one name: Bill Clinton. Read what you will in that. You may hate Rove; I hate Bill. You have your right and I have mine.
    13. What exactly do you mean by disregard? Are you implying that Republicans are ignoring voters who voted against continuing the war? Then why aren’t you going after Democrats? Remember, Bush didn’t run in 2006. And you can’t blame Republicans that won for not pulling out. I live in a district represented by a Republican and he ran on a platform supporting the war. Thus, he is following his voter’s mandate. So what exactly are you complaining about?

    Now, if you actually read my first comment, I simply said I didn’t trust Democrats. Never did I say anything about Republicans and whether I trusted them, just that I don’t agree with a timetable. And re-reading Doug’s post, I don’t see anything in it that relates to Republicans. This post was about the actions of Democrats and thus my response focused on Democrats.

    By the way, sorry if this response ran pretty long. I was trying to be polite and answer all the complaints posted by len. Hopefully this won’t bother anyone.

  • trumpetbob15

    len,

    I had written out a long response to each of your points, but it must have been too long because it didn’t post. So I will actually just say this and address a few points later. Doug’s post was about Democrats, not Republicans. It aslo focused on one political decision by Democrats, and I responded that is why I distrust Democrats. Never did I imply I agree with the Republican Party and in mamy areas, I do not. But regarding your list, unless you have specific complaints, it seems you are reading a Democrat’s playbook. Then again, I will give you the benefit of the doubt because you just put names rather than specific complaints (with the few exceptions).

    Regarding those exceptions, I will answer points 2, 9, 10, and 11, but I will ask, exactly what are your complaints? Saddam did have weapons he wasn’t supposed to, as Bill Clinton and others all said and Saddam actually proved when he fired them at us. When you say non-existent diplomacy, are you talking about a refusal to talk (a diplomatic objective, since not talking means no recognition) or a lack of the leftist-style of diplomacy? Once again, I have no problem with that. Regarding the Geneva Convention, I was taught that it only applied to civilians not engaged in combat and that combatents, to be protected under it, must be dressed in uniform. If this is wrong, please correct me. Either way, I don’t agree with following a set of rules that the opposition doesn’t have to. If you really want to get mad, how about getting mad at the people who behead civilians dressed like civilians doing the work of civilians? A total disregard for foreign nations’ perspectives is a GOOD thing. This is the U.S., not France or Germany or Iran. What those nations think do not matter unless they are willing to do something to make their opinions matter, such as paying back all the money the U.S. spent on the Marshall Plan (in the case of France). This is another issue where I don’t see a problem. Now regarding voter opinions, what are we talking about here? Frankly, it is Democrats who are disregarding voter opinions, voting to pull troops out next year rather than this year as they campaigned on. Now, I don’t know about other places, but my Republican representative campaigned on fighting the war so he is following his voter’s mandate by funding the war without a timeline. Bush is also following voter opinion because he was elected in 2004 rather than Kerry. (Sorry to say, but Bush didn’t run in 2006 so you can’t complain he doesn’t listen to voters.) Until Congress uses their Constitutional powers to override a veto, the President may use his Constitutional veto pen as he chooses. That is why there is a separation of powers, so that a true majority of voters are heard.

    Hope this helps clear up my personal opinions.

  • len

    trumpetbob,
    we certainly are oceans apart… and we are both americans. we see the same news casts, read the same articles and we perceive the situations totally differently.

    to be more clear let me make a few points. the united states has until most recently been revered throughout the world. i think that it is fair to suggest that we were largely viewed as a nation of character and integrity – putting what is right ahead of what is economically or strategically expedient. today that is almost all lost – by most any measure, whether it is condoning torture in secret prisons, neglecting our allies’ opinions regarding our actions in the middle east, or our outright arrogance in what we say, and how we say it. it is pathetic. i’ve been a conservative my whole life… i worked for DoD for 20 years and managed strategically important defense projects and i’m proud of that work. however, i’m man enough to call a spade a spade, and i will admit that the republican party has lost its way. that is putting it nicely. you can write this down and save it for some future moment in your life to reflect upon. this is the worst administration in our history – bar none.

    our actions in ww1 and ww2 were extremely commendable and those sacrifices are important to our futures and the futures of other nations. i would not regret having my children fight for those causes. iraq is different. we’ve expanded this war on terror to a point where our fears are now more important than our values. you can split hairs and say that our enemies are not in uniform and therefore they do not fall under the laws of the geneva convention (our administration is using the word “war” – rightly or wrongly). come on man, the enemy is the enemy… treat them at least as well you would want your son treated if captured by the enemy – regardless of what you actually expect the enemy to do. it is the principles that ultimately survive – not the bombs or the bullets. we disagree on the wmd issues so i will let that rest… but it is clear that there were really no serious wmds in iraq other than the ones that we provided over a decade ago, when we actually were supporting saddam hussein.

    your point about this is the US not France or Germany or Iran… says a lot about how our arrogance has spread to the common people. every nation gets a voice – who put us in charge of the middle east? and who says we should decide which nations get to use nuclear fuel for energy in the future? are we god? before you get upset about this comment, please try and imagine the US being invaded by another super-power, against the world opinion, because that super-power didn’t like us having wmds. surely this is an outrageous idea… we are the united states…

    and finally, why i didn’t write details where i put names. it is about character and integrity. remember when clinton was lying about all of the women he was fooling around with… the republicans came up with “character counts”. well it does. even the perception of poor character when in position of power is debillitating to an organization or a country – and we’ve had tons of it.

    i appreciate your open honesty, i hope that you appreciate mine.

    thanks,
    len

  • Eric

    A few points that require correction

    this is the worst administration in our history – bar none.

    Really? Worse than Richard Nixon? Worse than FDR’s all out assault on the Constitution? Worse than the almost certainly false and trumped up, propaganda based entry of the USA into WWI under Wilson? While I find the Bush Administration to be one of the worse, in many ways, in the past 50 years, it is certainly not the worse, bar none. Abraham Lincoln held far more people without habeas corpus than Bush. Come on, let’s stop the over the top hyperbole.

    but it is clear that there were really no serious wmds in iraq other than the ones that we provided over a decade ago.

    The USA never provided them with WMD’s, no credible source has ever even tried to argue such a thing. IIRC less than 3% of all military weapons acquired by Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war came from the USA. The vast majority came from France and Germany. No one has credibly argued that they provided WMD’s either. Oh, and over a decade ago? That would 1996, give or take. You must mean over 25 years ago, right? 1981 and 1982, when that actually happened.

    when we actually were supporting saddam hussein.

    First, a completely different political situation. Second, it was less supporting him than opposing Iran. With good reason. 25 years ago. But hey, who’s counting, right?

    every nation gets a voice ….

    Really? So, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge should “get a voice”? Iraq under Saddam Hussein? The USSR under Stalin? China under Mao? North Korea under Kim? Germany and Hitler?

    You completely discredit any good points you made with this sort of hyperbole, half truths and historical distortions.

  • len

    eric,
    no need to get personal :) … we are all just sharing ideas. you are right. i’m sorry… more than 2 decades ago.

    there is actually a lot of evidence regarding our role in providing wmds to iraq. you might want to read some of the articles here:

    http://www.fff.org/comment/com0406g.asp

    of course there is still an argument over which administration will go down in history as the worst – you are right on that one as well. i should have said that this administration will most likely be mentioned in those discussions in the future. everyone will have their own opinions.

    and “every nation should get a vote”. i should have been more clear here too. any sovereign nation, as a member of the UN should get a vote. we certainly don’t want to give a vote to ghengis kahn or any of his relatives. :)

    i appreciate your comments… i’ve learned something.

    keep it light,
    len

  • trumpetbob15

    len,

    I would like to disagree with a few points.

    First, America may have been revered, but blaming us for that changing ignores people like Chirac and citizens in other countries. Yes, America was the great protector of freedom during the Cold War, but since it has ended and the Soviet Union collapsed, France and Germany have become mini-Soviets. Look at the policies of the two countries. Are they more similar to the U.S. or the Soviets?

    Second, what was the point of fighting WWI and WWII? What makes those two different from Iraq? If anything, we should have completely stayed out of WWI. Woodrow Wilson actually campaigned with that message in his re-election bid, but then immediately reversed course and entered the war (much as today’s Democrats did as my original comment suggested). WWII may have been worth it. I am unsure however, so I will explain. Yes we were attacked at Pearl Harbor, but that was by the Japanese, not Germans. The Japanese were allies of the Nazis so we ended up in war with Germany. Now, we were attacked by nutjobs from the Middle East on 9/11. The President showed that Saddam had helped. So we entered into war with Iraq. Now, Germany and Iraq actually had something in common. Both had a large percentage of the population exterminated in the leader’s personal genocide plan. Thus, if WWII was worthwhile to fight, then so too should the Iraq War. (By the way, sorry I didn’t find the reference point for the Saddam link. I didn’t have much time to write this comment.)

    Regarding the Geneva Convention, if you think “values” are more important, fine. Personally I would rather we eliminate those who wish to harm us. Just as we should not let the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” stop us from shooting and killing a rampaging gunmen (who isn’t following the commandment), so too should we not let an agreement between “civilized warriors” interfere with eliminating people who don’t agree with the “rules of warfare.”

    Thank you for debating these points since this is the very essence of liberty.

  • len

    trumpetbob,
    thanks for your thoughtfulness. and thanks for not being personal. i appreciate your openness and insight.

    len