February 16, 2007
Only on rare occasions does the House of Representatives conduct important business in full session. Trying to get something done with 435 squabbling members would be hopeless, which is why nearly all the work is done in committee hearings. Every once in a while, they do hold wide-open debates, and nearly all members weighed in on The Surge. This afternoon the House voted 246-182 in favor of a resolution declaring opposition to President Bush's planned deployment of 21,500 more soldiers to Iraq. House Minority Leader John Boehner warned that this would be heading down a path that would "endanger Americans for decades to come." See Washington Post.
To me, the "nonbinding" vote was a vain exercise in finger-pointing, lacking any real consequences. Obviously, there will be psychological consequences, including harm to the morale of our armed forces. If members of Congress truly believe that the war in Iraq is not worth fighting, they should stop pretending to "support the troops" and vote to cut off funding [for the war. Such a drastic measure and would no doubt cost them many votes, which is why hardly any Democrats are willing to go that far, but any expression of anti-war sentiment short of that is a waste of time.]
I was up very late last night [watching C-SPAN], and happened to catch a sharp exchange on the House floor between Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN). Wasserman Schultz complained about Republicans in the House who have, she said, questioned the patriotism of Democrats. In response, Buyer challenged her to name one, but she could not do so, saying that it was "implicit." What a ridiculous statement for a person in her high position to make. Rep. Buyer came across as reasonable and justly indignant; Wasserman Schultz came across as sarcastic and insincere. Score one for the GOP!
A new collaborative blog has been created by military expert Austin Bay, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, and others: Victory Caucus, and they are up in arms about the 17 "White flag Republicans" in the House who voted with the Democrats. I am disappointed that Northern Virginia's Rep. Tom Davis was among those who voted for the resolution, but I would not go so far as to say that he and the others "decided today to end their political careers."
More generally, it is unseemly in my opinion to cast aspersions on members of one's own party without very strong justification. That being said, we may have to admonish those members of the Grand Old Party who stridently proclaim their devotion to "victory" without endorsing means to achieve such a victory. That is almost as bad as those weasels in Congress who say they "support the troops" but want to cut off their funding. The worst thing of all is to consciously employ pro-war campaigns as a "wedge issue" tactic, either against Democrats or moderate Republicans; this country needs to stand as united as possible, and political polarization will only make us weaker. In my opinion, that comes close to the definition of treason.
UPDATE: John Hinderaker (via Instapundit) sagely observes:
the truth is that the Democrats didn't get anything like the number of Republican supporters they were hoping for just a few days ago. I think the public will recognize that the real meaning of the resolution is that the Democrats, as a party, have committed themselves to a policy of failure and surrender. Time will tell whether that commitment will turn out to be a wise one.
Australian P.M. John Howard didn't mince any words in criticizing Barack Obama's call for a prompt U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Of course, he has the advantage of not living in the United States, where the Prime Directive is deference to minorities. See the Sidney Morning Herald [link fixed]; (via Belmont Club).