Saturday, February 17, 2007

Congress in 2007

Now that the Democrats have regained control of the U.S. Congress in last November's election, the reminders of why they shouldn't be in charge come rushing back.

Since the much vaunted 100 Hour Plan was dispensed with all we have heard from Capital Hill is a lot of noise about a non-binding resolution expressing the “sense of the Congress” about President Bush’s new way forward in Iraq. The measure is meaningless because it is a toothless action that can’t force anyone to do or not do anything; Congress doesn’t direct military operations, the Commander-In-Chief does.

The Democrats are guilty of—to be generous—exaggeration and disingenuousness in putting forth the claim that Congress is opposed to the Bush plan to increase troop strength in Iraq by more than 21,000. This politically-based foolishness began in the House of Representatives where the vote on the measure was 246-182, meaning that the resolution had the support of only 57 percent of the members who voted. That margin may be enough to pass a resolution that means nothing, but it is far less that necessary to support the claim that the House opposes the troop surge. For such a claim you would need the support of more than 70 percent of voting members, and to convey the idea that the House is solidly behind it, you ought to have 80 percent support. The measure had only 17 Republicans favoring it, and didn’t even have all the Democrats behind it, hardly a strong statement of solidarity of opposition.

The Senate will begin consideration of what to do about this silliness in a rare Saturday session today.

Typical of liberal initiatives, this affair substitutes symbolism for substance, and the only thing this foolishness will accomplish is to signal the world that the U.S. is weak and divided about our activities in Iraq. Isn’t that a great message to issue in support of our military?

If the Democrats want to make a real statement against the war, they ought to draft real legislation that would have a real effect, and that would be to defund the war. And they may in the future attempt such an ill-advised stunt. However, to do that would put the military at risk, and we all know how solidly the Democrats support the troops. What the new majority really wants is to have its cake and eat it, too: blather on about how the surge won’t work, but fail to take a truly principled position against it.

Democrats are overdriving their headlights on this one, behaving as if the election gave them a mandate to do as they please. It didn’t, and the closeness of the vote in the House underscores that point rather dramatically. The American people may be frustrated with the way things are going in Iraq, but they do not agree with the Democrat mantra: damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead—meaning get out of Iraq as quickly as possible, and let the chips fall where they may.

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