Way back in March, when the House was preparing Supplemental #1, we hoped to add the Lee Amendment, which called for a fully-funded withdrawal by the end of this year. Fund the soldiers AND get them home--the Lee Amendment looked to be as close to "bring them home now" as we were ever going to get. The idea of really standing up to Bush and using the power of the purse to end this damn war was definitely in the air. But the Dems wouldn't even let that reach the floor, couldn't even talk about it. Under, apparently, intense pressure, almost all the House Dems (including my own rep from Brooklyn, Yvette Clarke) caved to Pelosi’s lowest common denominator resolution for the sake of some combination of party unity, and the idea that “some checks on the President are better than none”. The joint House/Senate committee finalized Supplemental #1, Bush vetoed it immediately as he had promised to all along, and both sides publicly dug in for what amounted to an indefensible, morally bankrupt game of chicken.
Two key points: First, all the withdrawal provisions/timetables in Supplemental #1 came with “waivers”, meaning the President didn’t even have to bless us with one of his fabulous signing statements to ignore the will of the people; he just had to say the soldiers needed to stay in Iraq--and that was it. Second, this loophole ridden resolution, cobbled together with whatever was needed to get the votes required to pass this hot rotten potato back to Bush, exposed the Dems’ essential weakness. Bush knew, at that point, that he could just wait them out, and he was right. This is what’s happening now, and it’s going to work...again.
So then the House gave us Supplemental #2, now sans timetables and only funding the insanity until mid-July, with the rest of the funding to be decided upon once Bush reported on Iraq’s progress regarding those handy “benchmarks”. The Senate promptly dismissed this crap, re-inserted timetables into the resolution and firmly said they would not back down. But of course they already had, this was all PR. Supplemental #2 still had all those waivers the first one did. But Bush being Bush, and knowing he’s going to win this waiting game, just vetoed it again.
So now it’s time for Supplemental #3 – and the newest round of caving by the Dems. They will give more and more ground (what’s left to give? Don’t worry--the Dem “leadership” will find something) and Bush will keep rejecting everything short of the blank check Pelosi vows they won’t give him. But those waivers are the key: when it comes to allowing Bush to keep our soldiers in Iraq forever, the Dems have already given Bush his blank check--twice. He just doesn’t like the gift wrap.
Why is this farce continuing? The Dems aren’t trying to find some kind of common ground with this Administration, and it’s not because there’s no talking to these people. The Dems know that ending this war would be bad for business. Dems are completely fixated on Nov. 2008, so they are content to play a waiting game of their own, with the fate our soldiers and the future of Iraq just left blowin’ in the wind.
You don’t believe it? I don’t want to believe it either, but there it is. There is no defensible reason other than cynical political expediency why Democrats, such as my own rep Yvette Clarke, can’t stand up and say ENOUGH ALREADY! We recognize our responsibilities to end this deadly charade here and now. We must stop playing politics with all of this. We support, and will only support, a fully-funded withdrawal by Dec. 2007, including 100% of the ongoing, real funding needed by our soldiers and their families once we bring them home. We also fully support the impeachment of this lawless administration, starting with H.R. 333 (Kucinich’s resolution to impeach Cheney) to hold BushCo accountable for these illegal, immoral, and stupid “imperialist wars of choice”, as Chalmers Johnson recently wrote.
But that is not going to happen. Democrats who really believe this war is wrong and that BushCo needs to be held accountable, refuse to actually stand up, bring a real fight to the White House, and challenge all of us--elected reps, media whores and citizens alike--to pick sides and Constitutionally duke it out. It would be the best thing to ever happen to this country, but either the Dems remain afraid to fight or, as I am now finally realizing, they don’t want to because the status quo works for them.
If true antiwar Dems had any respect for what the people said in the still-warm Nov. 2006 elections instead of allowing themselves to be hypnotized by Nov. 2008, thousands of corpses from now, they would finally, meaningfully, use the power of the purse to end this occupation. They would get on with the real work of restoring our own system of government and figuring out what the hell we can do to really help Iraq. But they won’t. The Dems only stand up for whatever their versions of Carl Rove tell them to. They are particularly paralyzed by the fear of being smeared as “not supporting the troops”. Never mind that a fully-funded withdrawal counters that charge completely. Never mind any of the dozens of ways we all know this war decimates our military, lies to and completely screws our soldiers and the families and in no way supports them. The Dems won’t fight because THEY DON’T CARE. If they did care, they’d both stop this war and support impeachment. They will not stand up for what’s right. Forget what you feel when your rep looks you in the eye and tells you they’ve been to the funerals. Forget how they earnestly express their frustration. Just look at how they actually vote--by the fruit you know the tree. More money for war, no enforceable withdrawal dates, and no real checks on BushCo because that’s the Dems’ way to the White House in 2008.
I guarantee this Congress will ultimately give Bush the blank check he demands. It may be dressed up like a Wolfowitz resignation statement but it will give him everything he wants the way he wants it. Both sides will then say the system worked, happy to show the Executive and Legislative branches function so well in, you guessed it, support of our troops. Our political “leaders” will continue pointing their bloody fingers at each other on the Sunday talk shows, as the “Faces of the Fallen” segments of our dead soldiers continue to air week after week, month after month until Nov. 2008, at which point we may very be at war with Iran.
If you're in NYC and you want this war to end and Bush Cheney impeached, join us on Wednesday nights for our Brooklyn stand up, 6:45pm - 7:45pm at Grand Army Plaza. Email me for details - firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks -