When Ned Lamont whipped Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Senatorial primary in August and became the Democratic party's nominee for U.S. Senate, I began a campaign of contacting the offices of Democratic Senators and seeing how fast they would be willing to go on the record and support Lamont over the Bush-hugging Lieberman.
Some pledged support for Lamont quickly, while others took a while to come around to the earth-shattering notion of being a Democrat and actually supporting the Democratic nominee. And some failed the gut-check entirely and chose to support Lieberman -- who, at that point, had abandoned the Democratic party -- over Lamont, who had won the support of Connecticut's Democrats fair, square and convincingly.
This one should be easier.
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), with the strong support of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), will come back from the Senate recess next week and propose legislation that will challenge any veto made by George W. Bush on the war-funding bill that's just passed both houses of Congress. The Senate and House measures include provisions calling for a complete withdrawal of American troops from Iraq by March and September of 2008, respectively, and Bush has promised to veto whatever legislation he gets that contains language about bringing the troops home.
The Feingold-Reid measure matches the bill that just passed the Senate by ordering Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq within 120 days of enactment but will up the ante considerably by putting Bush on notice that funding for the war will stop in less than one year.
In other words, the tough, tenacious Feingold and former-boxer Reid are looking Bush straight in the eye on his veto threat and doing the legislative equivalent of saying "go ahead, make my day."
Being too stubborn to back down and with a track record of caring little about the welfare of the troops or what the American people think should be done, Bush will, of course, veto the supplemental bill within two seconds of it hitting his desk. At that point, Reid has vowed to bring the bill he is cosponsoring with Feingold to the floor for a vote and we will be off to the races in seeing who has the guts to do what's right for the country and the overstretched military.
So let's start tracking again... We have at least a couple of weeks before the House and Senate versions of the supplemental funding bill go to "conference" to reconcile differences, which gives us plenty of time to canvas Democratic Senators and find out how they'll vote when the time comes.
I'm guessing some will say they have no comment because voting on the Feingold-Reid bill is hypothetical until it's formally proposed and until Bush actually vetoes the supplemental. Some may also tell us that they need more time to study the Feingold-Reid bill.
I hope we don't hear either, because both assertions would be utter nonsense.
It's important that Bush get some advanced notice of what he will face when -- not if -- he vetoes the supplemental and every Senator in that chamber knows that Reid will indeed bring the new legislation to the floor if he needs to. And my nine-year-old son could digest and analyze the 187 words of the bill in question in less time than it takes him to watch an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants -- and that's if he hadn't already seen almost identical language in other bills as each of these Senators so often has.
So I start contacting the offices of Democratic Senators today, along with Republicans Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon, both of whom voted with Democrats last week on the troop withdrawal. For some, it should be easier than others... Senators Biden, Clinton, Dodd and Obama are running for president in 2008 and what could be easier than to pledge a vote that matches the beliefs of the overwhelming majority of the American people?
John Kerry (D-MA) has already agreed to cosponsor the bill and I predict Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) will be next. The gut-check may be more severe for some red-state Democrats but, hey, doing the right thing is what's supposed to separate Democrats from most Republicans.
As of this moment, we have Senators Feingold, Reid and Kerry prepared to force Bush to bring our troops out of a bloody civil war and focus on our country's true security imperatives.
I'll keep you posted on what the others say.
You can read more from Bob at BobGeiger.com.
Update: Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) has just signed on as a cosponsor.