Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Forcing The Issue

William Rivers Pitt

The Republican leadership has established hurdles and blockades, everything they can find to stop us from a vote that reflects the feelings of the American people. You know why? They're afraid of what the American people want. They're afraid the American people might prevail.

- Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois)

The Bush administration has displayed absolutely no interest in heeding the wisdom of The First Law of Holes - when you're in a hole, stop digging - even as the circle of carnage widens and public support plummets to new and awe-inspiring lows. The original plan called for the establishment of a permanent American military presence in Iraq, and the bitter-enders in the White House mean to stay this course no matter what comes.

For now, they can do so. Bush and Cheney hold the Executive high ground, their lackeys control the military, and if they don't wish to withdraw from Iraq, any Congressional strategies for withdrawal are meaningless. The administration dictates policy, and they control the military. Further, any withdrawal legislation supported only by the Democratic majority will be undone by Bush's veto pen. No legislative solution can be successfully passed and protected from that veto until 67 senators all vote "Aye."

Before anyone can even begin to craft a plan for extracting us from this disaster, Bush and Cheney will have to be politically cornered, politically overwhelmed, and politically defeated. That defeat must begin in Congress. That is the punch behind the Reid-Levin amendment. That is the punch behind the next amendment to come, and the one after that, and the one after that.

If those 22 Republicans fail to heed the public's demands for much longer, the '08 midterms may well see many, most, or all of them defeated at the polls. The current one-vote Democratic majority in the Senate would be vastly increased, and would wield the kind of legislative power not seen in the Senate in many years. Such a muscular majority could dictate terms on Iraq, restoration of habeas corpus, the nomination of new justices to the United States Supreme Court, and those issues are just for starters.

If, on the other hand, enough of those 22 Republicans abandon Bush after facing repeated legislative salvos from the majority, bills mandating withdrawal from Iraq could then be crafted and passed; if the majority's seeming strategy bears fruit, a coalition of 67 senators will be the final result, holding enough votes to override any veto, enough votes to begin legislating an end to this war. The Bush administration would, at long last, be cornered and check-mated.

The showdown on Tuesday placed this choice before the GOP. More legislation is coming that will force the same choice upon them. The elections are coming, the public is not with them, and they are no longer sheltered by the media-inflated approval ratings of Mr. Bush and his war. They will be forced to vote time and again on Iraq, forced to defend their votes, and ultimately forced to campaign on those votes.

I think it's awful that those clowns put their careers ahead of doing what's right. Eventually, the ghastly thought that they may not get re-elected will force them to make the right decision for the wrong reasons, but they'll make it. Meanwhile, the needless dying and expense will continue.

Note to Dems: I hesitate to compare your political turkey slap to an actual fist fight, but you don't always win one of those with the first punch. The last election at least got you off your knees. Keep punching, kicking, biting until you prevail. If you quit, the bad guys win and we all lose. If you can't land a knockout punch, just wear 'em down.

It's not the way I want it, but it's the way it is. Dammit. As slow and ineffectual as things move on Capitol Hill, my money's on molasses in January.

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