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Wag the Blog: How Much Can Democrats Do?

Earlier this week, the Post's Shailagh Murray and I sat down with Sen. Dick Durbin to discuss -- among other topics -- the ongoing Iraq debate in Congress.

Durbin, who was one of just 21 Democrats to vote against the 2002 use of force resolution, acknowledged that no matter what happens over the next few weeks in the Senate, his party's base is not likely to be happy with the result.

"Obviously there are folks who want the war to end today, and all the troops to be home tomorrow. And even though I think that is a worthy goal, it is not a realistic goal," said Durbin.

Durbin also took a shot at people like former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), who has been outspoken in urging Congressional Democrats to not give an inch when it comes to battling President Bush over the war.

"I recall when John voted for this war," said Durbin. "So it's understandable that he feels badly about that decision and wants to see something done to undo the harm that has happened. But it has to be done in a sensible way."

For today's Wag the Blog question we want to know whether you agree or disagree with Durbin's position. Is it reasonable to expect Senate Democrats who hold the slimmest of majorities to bring an end to this war? If so, how would you suggest doing it?

Sound off in the comment section below. The best and brightest comments will be featured in a post of their own.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 12, 2007; 5:45 PM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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Comments

I'm a Democrat.

I opposed this war from the beginning.

The most concise analysis I heard then, and still rings true now, comes from Colin Powell: 'You break it. You own it.'

We have broken Iraq. Perhaps irretrieveably.

But we don't know that yet.

Neither do we know whether the Iraqi people in all their various parts and allegiances want to have a unified nation.

Until we do, setting withdrawal timetables, however much we want them and our troops need them, seems to me artificial and therefore unproductive.

Posted by: Kurt Landefeld | July 17, 2007 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I was against the war from the beginning and never bought the Bush/Cheney reasoning.I placed more stock in Bush's "we hit the trifecta" statement, than in believing Saddam had reconstituted anything.However....much as I hate POTUS and VPOTUS, I do not support immediate withdrawal. We have to leave some troops in the North, both to protect the Kurds (for real, this time) and to prevent the Kurds from trying to move into Turkey. We need to isolate Anbar, both to protect total annihilation of the Sunnis and to prevent explosive, sorry, growth of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. And we have to keep some troops in the South to keep the Iranians from wholesale movement into the area. Other countries may be willing to help out if Bush went into hiding for the next 18 months.

Posted by: RYBice | July 17, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Goedert,
"...narrowly-defined mission - protect borders, hunt down Al-Qaeda." Um, isn't Al-Qaeda now in Iraq?

Posted by: Dave! | July 15, 2007 7:59 PM | Report abuse

How much can the democrats do? They intend to do nothing! Democrats are just the other $ide of the coin: like all of the Republicans, the Democrats are whorrres for lobbyists.

Posted by: Guy Fox | July 15, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

How much can the democrats do? They intend to do nothing! Democrats are just the other $ide of the coin: like all of the Republicans, the Democrats are whorrres for lobbyists.

Posted by: Guy Fox | July 15, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

The lives of my friends matters more than online civility.

Democrats - Get our troops home now.

Posted by: Andrew Goedert | July 15, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a regular reader of blogs, and reading much of this string of invective reminds me why. Is it no longer possible for Americans to have a discussion of a very tough issue like this one in which we actually exchange points, learn from each other, get the facts as straight as we can as honestly as we can, narrow our differences as much as we can, and treat each other with respect and civility? If we cannot do better than this in these respects, I despair for our country.

Posted by: Chuck | July 15, 2007 3:04 AM | Report abuse

...so many moronic posts

This is very simple. The Democrats in Congress can end the war by refusing to fund further military action in Iraq. They should repeatedly send bill's to Bush that will provide funding for a much smaller force with a narrowly-defined mission - protect borders, hunt down Al-Qaeda. Don't give him more money to supervise an endless Civil War. Don't give him anything else.

And I had thought Fix posters knew what they were talking about...

Posted by: Andrew Goedert | July 14, 2007 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Durbin is absolutely correct. We don't want to just abandon the area to genocide and chaos, regardless of whether it was wise to invade in the first place. Perhaps Democrats would not catch all the heat in a scenario where the funding was cut off, but that does not free them of their responsibilities as representatives of a country that decided to invade and dismantle a country in need of their assistance to avoid becoming a failed state.

Posted by: Kevin Steimel | July 13, 2007 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Not me. Malkovich.

Posted by: John Waters | July 13, 2007 8:18 PM | Report abuse

If the public definitely supports it, Democrats should just refuse to fund the war. If the public is divided, it's pretty iffy going head to head with a reckless demagogue like Bush as commander in chief.

Posted by: newageblues | July 13, 2007 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Michael Chertoff = John Waters
check out the eerie resemblance
http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/photos/Portrait_Chertoff_HighRes.jpg
http://www.baltimoresun.com/media/photo/2005-10/20188398.jpg
Could we get a comment from John Waters please?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Durbin has it right. It was most assuredly wrong to enter Iraq, and we are clearly in a terrible situation there now. However, an fast withdrawal cannot change a poor decision made five years ago, and if such a pullout would relieve some immediate anger, the long term consequences could be disasterous.

The Democrats could end the war in time, if they are willing to comprimise, and pragmatically take into account the situation on the ground when crafting a plan of action. It won't be easy.

Posted by: Antigone | July 13, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I think Durbin is exactly right. Apart from the fact that it takes months to remove all of the troops from Iraq, the Senate would have to reach 60 votes to bring even one troop home. In order to get any movement at all, In situations like this, unless the Democratic leadership weeds out the "troops home now" amendments, and embrace the opinions of the recent GOP defectors, we won't see any legislation until September or later.

Hopefully, Durbin's words aren't meant to foreshadow an unwillingness of the Democrats to compromise.

Posted by: Andy | July 13, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

The Dems don't need a majority in Congress and they don't need sixty votes in the Senate to close debate. They need two-thirds in both houses to override the veto. Since the majority of people seem to have a serious problem with basic math, I'll give you the answer of the Dems being able to force their policy on the administration: They're not close.

If they want to do something, drop the confrontation with the White House over the federal attorney firings and go after them where they clearly broke the law: domestic spying. I think the attorney firings stink, but most Americans oppose being spied on and the administration and its appointed minions clearly broke the law. If Bush claims executive privilege where his employees broke the law, you have yourself a real debate over limits on the executive branch and separation of powers. And it is something most Americans not only understand (they broke the law) but will be inclined to agree with your persecution of him. Done properly the Dems can even knock the last pillar out from under the GOP: protecting America from terrorists. Show exactly how incompetent they are! The Italians caught our CIA operatives by tracing their cell phone calls!?!? Your corner drug dealer is more sophisticated then this administration. Start calling witnesses.

Posted by: muD | July 13, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"The better solution is to work out how we can best salvage the situation. This will require the unthinkable - Dems and Repubs working together to find a mutually agreeable solution."


I've never understood why the conventional wisdom in this country is that we could solve most of our problems if the two main parties would cooperate. As far as I'm concerned, their cooperation is one of the biggest problems we have in America. Whenever there is a strong enough lobbying effort, an issue is beyond consequential debate. With the Democrats still stinging from their attempt at health care reform of 12 years ago, for example, the two parties are cooperating on keeping health care off the agenda, damn the 65% of Americans who want a single-payer system.

Wouldn't you rather have it, that the Republicans say "We want the war to go on as long as the President wishes," and the Democrats to say, "Most of us were against your war in the first place, and events have shown us to be right, and so we refuse to undersign your abominable war?"

It would complicate things, for sure. The Senate would become a debating body, instead of a 'deliberating' one. Furthermore, it would stir the fires of doubt under the people who think America is always right and so only needs to agree with itself to know what the truth is.

But what we would have is two distinct and coherent visions, and the more popular of which, as chosen by voters, carrying the day. Are the voters sure to be right? No. Are they sure to protect America? No. Is there even a guarantee that they will avoid ignominy & disaster? No.

Instead of that guaranty, what there would be, is democracy. Personally, if I could choose, I would choose democracy, over the security of the National Security Council, over the flattery toward our brave, courageous, heroic young soldiers, over the faith in our unique goodness, and even over the prayers for God to bless America. God has given us enough blessings. Let us now try to be worthy of them.

Posted by: Anticlimacus | July 13, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Because of Senate filibuster rules, the Democrats alone won't end the war. However, Mr. Bush's increased intransigence is hurting his cause, not helping. More and more Republicans will jump ship as we move closer to the election. Mr. Bush may well find himself facing a moderate timetable resolution, that passes both houses of Congress, before the end of the year.

I believe the Democrats' leadership crisis is that they are stuck between the left and a hard place. While the left wants an immediate end to the war, most Americans want a more nuanced position.

The Democrats, thus far, have been unable to provide it. If the Democrats could craft a foreign policy message that rises above simply opposing the current administration, they might well fare better legislatively. They need to do more than simply oppose Mr. Bush.

Most of the voters out there expressing discontent with Congress are not happier with Mr. Bush. But they aren't the true believers of the far left, either. They are simply thirsting for a real foreign policy vision in a partisan fur fight. Thus far, the Democrats have been unable to provide that vision.

This isn't just about Iraq. The world is a dangerous place and voters would to see the Democrats present their vision for America's future in the real world.

Posted by: Mike North | July 13, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Durbin is right that there's a part of the base that won't be happy no matter what. They don't get that we live in a system that moves slowly and that compromise is REQUIRED to get things done. I was cheering Cindy Sheehan on during her protests in Texas. But, now she wants to unseat Nancy Pelosi because she won't start impeachment proceedings a year and a half before Bush leaves office? GIVE ME A BREAK! I detest Bush and part of me would love to see him impeached, but it's not only not going to happen, but it would be totally counterproductive to a positive agenda for Democrats. The hard left needs to get a clue.

Posted by: Jon | July 13, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

" 5 year olds" ?? My, what arrogance you have.

Posted by: Jay | July 13, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

The earlier posts on this site address the issue. The later sound like a bunch of 5 year olds. The Dems RAN on the premise that they would curtail the foreign adventures of the shrub, and limit the aggressive and presumptuous policing of the middle east. They haven't delivered. While I believe that recapturing the Senate from Cheneyland is probably the only reason that the neo-cons presently don't have a second front in Iran, the Dems have to do something to rein in the fools in the White House as a legitimate check and balance on Executive branch hegemony. If they don't do something by the Fall, (when Petreas comes in and asks for "6 more months of surge"), they will have lost all credibility, and probably lose their slim majority, in the Senate, in '08. The House has never really been a player in all of this, except for the funding issue. It's the Senate that calls the policy shots for the Dems. They should retreat to some venue, coordinate a strategy before Sept. and come out swinging.

Posted by: L.Sterling | July 13, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Not sure who noticed, but I lost count of how many times Bush referenced Al-Qaida in the context of Iraq. Other analsis indicate the problems are much more related to sectarian violence and hatred, Iraq's neighbors, muslim extremist in general, the hatred of the western lifestyle, and the US presence...ie not Al-Qaida per say. Seems like Bush is playing off of 9/11 memories, and terrorism in general. I do not see a correlation between Iraq and Al-Qaida. If you recall Sadam did not trust Al-Qaida and kept them under wraps. I dont recall any correlation between Iraq and 9/11. Am I missing something ? Seems like all we did was dispose a dictator, tried to force-feed democracy, and created a civil war. ?

Posted by: Jay | July 13, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

No, it is not reasonable to believe that congressional democrats can end the war today.

President Bush has indicated that he will reject any artifical timelines not created by the Iraqi government or the US military. George Bush is the still commander in chief of the US military. So what can democrats do at this point? They can either cut off funding for the war or continue passing resolutions that will either die in the senate or be vetoed. Senate democrats do not even have the 60 votes required to end a filibuster, and they certainly don't have the 67 votes required to override a Presidential veto. Now, depending on General Paetreas's assessment of activity on the troop surge in September, things could change. The democrat's best bet is wait out until that report takes place and take an objective look at how the troop surge is working and what Patreaus says. If things are still going badly with no progress forward at that point, President Bush will be forced to try something else and then the Democrat's will have a stronger leg to stand on. If progress is being made by then, their base will just be out of luck and President Bush will be in the stronger position. Democrats should wait it out until this report is made in September, then go on those circumstances.

Posted by: reason | July 13, 2007 7:45 AM | Report abuse

It's simply not true that the Democrats don't have the power to bring an end to this, at least as of Oct. 1, the start of the next fiscal year. For the war to continue, it needs funding, and it won't get funding without at least some Democrat votes. The Democrats have plenty of leverage, if only they would use it. But they won't.

That said, I'm not suggesting that a quick pullout is a good idea. It certainly carries huge risks. What I am saying is that it doesn't take 67 votes, or even 60, to deny funding. In fact, it's quite the contrary: It takes a positive vote to provide the funding, and the Democrats have the power to keep that from happening.

Posted by: Eric | July 13, 2007 1:52 AM | Report abuse

Allow me to use this space to remind you of how horrible Michael Chertoff is. What is that you say? A "gut feeling" about an attack? What the hell is that supposed to mean and what the hell am I supposed to do? Thanks a lot for bringing so much clarity and focus into my life, Mr. Chertoff! I guess I don't have to stop drinking, beating my wife, and ramming my SUV into wheelchaired pedestrians after all because I have bigger things to worry about! I hope you're held fully responsible for anything that happens on US soil, Mr Chertoff! Why? BECAUSE THATS YOUR DAMN JOB.

Posted by: the truth | July 13, 2007 1:20 AM | Report abuse

Allow me to use this space to remind you of how horrible Michael Chertoff is. What is that you say? A "gut feeling" about an attack? What the hell is that supposed to mean and what the hell am I supposed to do? Thanks a lot for bringing so much clarity and focus into my life, Mr. Chertoff! I guess I don't have to stop drinking, beating my wife, and ramming my SUV into wheelchaired pedestrians after all because I have bigger things to worry about! I hope you're held fully responsible for anything that happens on US soil, Mr Chertoff! Why? BECAUSE THATS YOUR DAMN JOB.

Posted by: the truth | July 13, 2007 1:20 AM | Report abuse

The line that we can not defund the troops is a Bush trick that will keep the war going forever as Hillary is a hawk also. The way to save the lives of our military is to not appropriate any money for Iraq which has been funded on a separate basis or if u fund the war, there must be a deadline of April 1, 2008 for complete withdrawal which Bush will veto. Then do nothing as Bush ended the war himself by his veto.

Posted by: mascmen7 | July 13, 2007 12:56 AM | Report abuse

to JimB in Fl...your 10:44pm post was stunning genius. This is not about party affiliation.
As you said, this war is about insanity. How many more of our brave soldiers must die?

Posted by: Jay | July 13, 2007 12:08 AM | Report abuse

It's simple. Keep passing bills that tell the President he has to get out of Iraq. As long as the Republicans vote in favor of the war, they risk political disaster next year. Eventually, they'll see the light and come around. I don't know how long that will take, but unless the Democrats provide them the opportunity to keep voting against the wishes of the American public, they won't have to make a decision.

Incidentally, the Skelton bill is the kind of bill I favor. It just tells Bush that his Iraq adventure is over. Don't mix this issue up with financing for logistics and body armor - doing that just gives the demagogues something to yammer about.

Let the Republicans in Congress wear this issue like a dead albatross around their necks. When it gets heavy and stinky enough, they'll want to be rid of it. In the meantime, let them live with the shame of continuing this pointless slaughter.

Meanwhile, there's no trick or magic incantation that will make this go away. The Democrats need to be as relentless as the Republicans have been in starting this war if they're going to end it.

Posted by: Cujo359 | July 12, 2007 11:52 PM | Report abuse

The troops will be coming home before the 2008 presidential election so they can vote Democratic in their home towns.

Posted by: Inquirer | July 12, 2007 11:25 PM | Report abuse

"Of course the Democrats can end the war. They need simply refuse to send Bush a spending bill without a deadline."

The problem with that plan is that 1) its not a good solution - it'll leave Iraq worse off than it is now and 2) its what the GOP wants so they can wash their hands and say "hey, the Dems decided to cut and run - the mess ain't our fault."

The better solution is to work out how we can best salvage the situation. This will require the unthinkable - Dems and Repubs working together to find a mutually agreeable solution. Just packing up our guns and coming home immediately is equally as bad as the stay-until-the-undefined-job-is-completed plan. Theoretically we've elected a bunch of adults, who should now figure out how to work together to find the best solution - no matter who comes up with it, then return to the political excitement of the 2008 election.

Posted by: bsimon | July 12, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I believe that the invasion of Iraq was a major strategic blunder and that the aftermath of the invasion has been managed with an incompetence bordering on criminal negligence. The history of the Iraq fiasco is a giant exercise in dealing with the world as the neo-cons wish it to be rather than as it is. The neo-cons ridiculed then Army Chief of Staff General Shineski for saying we would need several hundred thousand troops for an occupation of Iraq. The neo-cons predicted that Iraqi oil revenue would pay for the costs of the war. The neo-cons predicted that the Iraqi population would strew flowers at the feet of our troops a la Paris 1944. The neo-cons restricted planning for the occupation to a small group of true believers - people who might actually know something about the culture and history and society in Iraq were not welcome. Not only has Iraq become a quagmire but the situation in Afghanistan, once so promising, has become exceedingly difficult with a resurgent Taliban. That is a direct result of the diversion of resources from Afghanistan to Iraq before the mission in Afghanistan was complete.

As many others have pointed out, the Democrats do not have the votes to impose a withdrawal timetable. I believe a precipitious withdrawal would be an even worse disaster than the current situation. The turmoil in Iraq would almost certainly spill over into neighboring countries and might even spark a wider war. Certainly, the cycle of sectarian killing would continue and al Qaeda would likely be able to carve out a safe haven in parts of the country.

There is quote attributed by various people to Ben Franklin, Mark Twain or Albert Einstein (and may not have been said by any of them) that "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." We need a new strategy. One that allows for a redeployment and reduction of US troops - not a total withdrawal. Our troops should concentrate on protecting Iraq's territorial integrity, training Iraq's security forces and conducting operations against al Qaeda. They should not be trying to referee a civil war.

The situation in Iraq cannot be stabilized until a stable political settlement is reached. Aggressive pursuit of such a settlement should be the centerpiece of US strategy. Adoption of most of the Baker-Hamiltion recommendations along with Senator Biden's plan to create a federal Iraq with highly autonomous Sunni, Shia and Kurd provinces makes the most sense to me.

The Democrats should put forth credible spokepersons on national security issues to advocate a new strategy. Senator Webb, Senator Jack Reed, and Senator Biden would be good point men from the Senate. Congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, a retired three star admiral, has impeccable national security credentials. They should enlist the aid of prominent retired military critics of the disasterous Bush Iraq policy starting with General Wesley Clark. The Democrats need to put forth a more reasonable alternative than a simple timetable for withdrawal. Advancing such a strategy holds open the possibility of being joined by sensible Republicans like Senator Lugar, Senator Collins, Senator Snowe and others. It also offers the chance of finding common cause with those in the administration and in the Pentagon who are advocating a change of direction in Iraq. This might not be the most advantageous approach from a political point scoring perspective, but it would be the best approach for the country.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 12, 2007 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Of course the Democrats can end the war. They need simply refuse to send Bush a spending bill without a deadline.

Posted by: Anticlimacus | July 12, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Is it reasonable to expect the Democrats to actually succeed in ending the war now? No, because the Republicans still have enough votes to prevent it.

But it is becoming quite clear that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are either very lucky or very good. They got their anti war resolution before the public in less than one hundred hours and forced the Republicans to publicly oppose it. They got their end the war language in a necessary appropriations bill and forced George to veto it, and then they gave George a bill that lasts only until fabled September, and any attempt to muddle along with continuing resolutions is almost certainly dead. If they continue in this vein, they can keep forcing Republicans to publicly oppose ending the war in an expeditious manner, and keep tying vulnerable Republicans to Georges massively unpopular ego trip.

They can be both bluntly oppositional, and appropriately reasonable, and in 2008 they can then run on that opposition, and their not incompatible willingness to support the troops while opposing the mis use of the troops in Iraq.

If only enough of the voting center will be as reasonable, the Republican party will be severely diminished in power and presence on January 3rd, 2009.

Posted by: ceflynline | July 12, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats do not have the votes to stop the war on their own -- as Durbin says they need a 2/3 vote majority. The only option that might work would be to go for a government shutdown by attaching a call for the war to end to all budget appropriations. This would lead to a government shutdown (we have been there before) and it is not clear who would give in first. It is pretty tough to deal with a sociopath (excuse me, "antisocial personality disorder") because they do not really care about the consequences of their actions. Threatening them with harming others does not work.

The good news is that some of the Republicans are coming around.

On another topic, I must say to Chris that your biases really show through in that interview. You petulantly argue with Senator Durbin when he says that Obama has been consistent about the war. That is not reporting! You sounded like a little kid arguing with his parent rather than a reporter doing an interview. Sure, ask follow up questions, but just to whine that you don't agree with the subject's answer (for no particularly good reason) is not professional.

Posted by: George | July 12, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

mpd, the Prez may be holding the Congress hostage but I am Trustee for two young men in Iraq and I want them to have every chance to get back alive.

It is not a hypothetical situation for me. It will take many months to draw down the troops safely. No funding cut would be responsible unless it was tied to the Administration's agreement to do the draw down.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 12, 2007 9:02 PM | Report abuse

too bad the dems don't have the guts to just stop funding the war, have to "support the troops" you know! what a bunch of worthless cowards.

Posted by: mpd | July 12, 2007 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra...the tide is turning. Your 4.54pm post is too pessimistic. Events are at warp speed now regarding the war. The Congress is getting an earful. R's are bailing out. W's news conference today was a painful joke. As Dylan said, "the times they are a changin".
After the Aug recess, look for alot more defections, and Congress to try to wind down this stupidity asap.

Posted by: Jay M in NC | July 12, 2007 8:40 PM | Report abuse

The USA Today cited a poll today showing that 70% of the population wanted the war to end. (This was interpreted, in the headline, as American's being "split" on the war.)

How could a previous contributor attribute Congress' falling approval to doing too much to end the war? The Congress has not extracted a single concession on the war. Does it not stand to reason that the Congress is unpopular because it has refused to do what 70% of the people want?

I know I don't know the whole picture. If there's one thing I trust politicians to know, it's their self-interest. Why are they balking to do what they ought to do, and what they said they'd do, and what 70% of people want them to do?

Posted by: Anticlimacus | July 12, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra at 4:54p offered a wager about progress toward extricating the USA from Iraq.

Cassandra, if Baker-Hamilton were adopted by Congress and the Administration before the end of the year would you count that as progress?

If you would not, I will refuse your wager, because I think that is the best we will get in 2007. If you would, lets work on our bet.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 12, 2007 8:16 PM | Report abuse

There are a lot of "rightist" talking point bloviators like Mike who are going to need a good dose of therapy from the fear mongering and brain washing that accompanies this administration's attempts at controlling media coverage (recall the staged military press conference) and the national discourse since taking power. In the process of hearing the same thing over and over, they have come to display what is known in psychological terms as "learned helplessness". Like a feeble rat in its cage, these people, fearing punishment for acting out of line with those in power ("if you're not with us, you're against us"), refuse to care for themselves and surely cannot comprehend extending anything close to care to others. They wallow in the fecund fallow fields of Fox News feces, and like a wide-eyed mimeograph, they wander about spewing vitriol and mindless sound bites. One day, they will awaken from their frightened stupor, starving and realizing that those in power don't often reward the innocent little rats for marching in step and their incessant lever pushing. Like good liberals (think Jesus), we should take pity on them, offer them forgiveness instead of continuing to toss barbs, for surely, at this point, they must not know what they do.

Posted by: Tom M | July 12, 2007 8:06 PM | Report abuse

PS Mike, I am not a Republican. I am a registered Dem in NC, but with the heart of a Libertarian. A member of the Sierra Club, against this false war, my first Pres vote was for G McGovern, then I voted for Reagan twice, wish Gore had won (actually he did!) over Chaneys and Rummys lapdog. Guess I need to see my shrink again. Do you wish to make peace?

Posted by: Jay M in NC | July 12, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Sandra...thanks for a voice of reason. I made a similar post much earlier. We simply cannot be the "worlds policeman" nor assume our democracy is what is best for others. I will be changing my "post name" as Mike, not MikeB, has been submitting posts in my name, against the rules.

Posted by: Jay M in NC | July 12, 2007 7:26 PM | Report abuse

'Actually Sandra, I am. I'm in the United States Marine Corps, as it says above.

Are you, Sandra?'

No. I don't believe it's my, or the US's obligation to go around saving the entire world. I just try to deal with problems here in the US -- my country.

I also think it's complete idiocy to beleive you can 'save' people from a civil war they don't want to stop -- which has lasted for 2000 years.

Posted by: Sandra | July 12, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

for Mike, I was quoting (note) what you were referred to by "MikeB", who by the way, sounds like a smart man.

Posted by: Jay M in NC | July 12, 2007 7:02 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats do have a slim majority, but the least they could do is try to do something with it. The reason Congress' approval rating is lower than normal (it usually hovers around 40%) is because the Democrats have not been enacting the changes people elected them to bring. Worse, they have not even have been trying. What is the worse that can happen? A veto? "Congress enacted universal health care today, but President Bush vetoed it." "Congress took steps to reduce global warming today, but President Bush vetoed it." "Congress decided to give you an adorable kitten, but President Bush vetoed it." Who ends up looking like an ineffective, obstructionist leader in this situation?

Posted by: Kyrie | July 12, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I guess everyone's just breaking the rules today.

Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Yep, USMC (Mike) ...there goes the "dont ask, dont tell" policy at work.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I believe it's against the rules to call people names, Jay. But do rules only apply to Republicans?

I guess that means I can sleep tonight after having called you a hypocrit.

Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2007 6:50 PM | Report abuse

for MikeB and others, "Mike (the village idiot)"
has hijacked my name and is making posts against the rules, as if they were mine.
I guess if your a Dem and cannot win fairly, you cheat.

Posted by: Jay M in NC | July 12, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to go off topic but CNN's website is reporting that John McCain's campaign is down to its last $250k......Ouch!

Posted by: Larry | July 12, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Actually Sandra, I am. I'm in the United States Marine Corps, as it says above.

Are you, Sandra?

Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I'll tell you wehat, Mike, let's avoid confusion, I'll be "MikeB" and you can be "The Village Idiot".

Thanks for that one, MikeB.

Posted by: drindl | July 12, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

You in the military Mike? Why not? You have an obligation.

Posted by: Sandra | July 12, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Democrats: WHY DONT YOU JUST SPEAK LOUDER AND SAY YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHATS BEST FOR EVERYBODY? ALSO WHY DON'T YOU ACTUALLY WALK THE WALK INSTEAD OF BEING SO DAMN RICH AND HYPOCRITICAL?

Republicans: WHY DONT YOU JUST SAY THAT YOU WANT TO CONTINUE YOUR LIVES OF COMFORT, CONSUMPTION, AND LACK OF SELF-RESPONSIBILITY?

You're all wrong. You're all crooks. If you are under the age of 30, please consider abandoning the status quo when you rule the world, while you still know what the Internet is as we know it. PLEASE. This isn't going to work for much longer. I love America, but my God, it must change.

Posted by: e | July 12, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Mike, you are insane to the point of being dangerous to yourself and certainly to others. That level of delusion is really quite amazing. Stay away from sharp objects.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I apologize. I guess you don't have to be smart, but you do have to be nice.

Posted by: Jay M in NC (how is that possible?) | July 12, 2007 6:38 PM | Report abuse

That was me at "Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2007 06:18 PM ". I left the B off MikeB. I'll tell you wehat, Mike, let's avoid confusion, I'll be "MikeB" and you can be "The Village Idiot".

Posted by: MikeB | July 12, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Mike...please read the rules for posting a comment.

Posted by: Jay M in NC | July 12, 2007 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Jay - you must be an intellectual heavyweight.

Since anyone can post under any name, it surely must have occurred to you that one of the above comments doesn't fit in with the rest.

Didn't you read little children books when you were small? You know, which of these shapes is unlike the other?

Mike

Posted by: Jay M in NC | July 12, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Mike (not MikeB)...my, how you shift gears when challenged on some of your comments (ex."one of seven").
Just remembered, I need to take my little dog out for a dump.

Posted by: Jay M in NC | July 12, 2007 6:24 PM | Report abuse

In addition to the several thoughtful points made by the first few posters, I would like to add another: once the vote was made by Congress to allow Bush to go to war, the ball was in Bush's court. There is very little Congress can do with a President who does not want to listen, except tie his hands by either withdrawing or putting conditions on funding for the military. This strategy is already being employed to the extent that Bush has been forced to assess whether certain benchmarks are being met. I expect the strategy to be employed to force troop withdrawls/mission changes as enough Republicans begin to support the continuous Democratic attempts to further tie Bush's hands in this war.

Posted by: TEL | July 12, 2007 6:23 PM | Report abuse

"Mike, Bill O'Reilly wants his talking points back."

Your wit is truly breathtaking.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Mike, Bill O'Reilly wants his talking points back.

Posted by: Janine | July 12, 2007 6:19 PM | Report abuse

As you well know, Bush's State of the (Dis) Union Address was simply a rehash of the doggeral he has been spewing since just after 9-11. All it does is telescope the various half baked excuses he has used into a narrow time frame. Well, you may be suffering from early onset Alzheimer's but the vast majority of us are not and remember very clear that these lame excuses popped up, only after the old one was utterly and embarringly exposed as being a load of garbage.

Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2007 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Hey Mike B - why don't you go back and read the state of the union address before you further demonstrate your ignorance?

Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

"And if you feel we have an obligation to force democracy on other nations, we have dozens of countries, entire continents, and the majority of the worlds population, to take on next."

Actually, we should probably start with our own.

Once we can fix leftist judges from ruling from the bench, a congress that tramples on the constitution by illegally micromanaging a war, a president who refuses to enforce the law and secure the borders, and a liberal, hate-filled media who refuses to do anything other than distort the news, then yeah, you're right - there are a lot of oppressed people out there that may need our help.

Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

MikeB...you said it better than I ever could. Thanks.

Posted by: Jay M in NC | July 12, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I forgot, this is all big oil's fault. I know what we should do - we should tax the oil companies. They're obviously trying to scam us at the pump anyway. You have probably never had a basic economics class, and it's unlikely you understand what it means to take a risk.

Here's the scenario. Oil companies risk (other people's) money to drill holes and fild product. They search all over the world (that the environmentalists will let them), perform countless calculations, diagnostics, and testing, and take a risk. They perform all of the work, because they think they might be payed back for their efforts.

Sometimes, they are. Others, they're not. If you drill too many dry holes, you're finished. And you just lost a lot of (other people's) money. Not a very happy scenario. But if you do find something, you can sell it, and make back your investment.

Now, the big, bad, oil companies do all this so that you, Mr. Irish Curse, can drive your hybrid to the library so you can read up on marxism. And how much do they take home in "record profit" per gallon? 9 pennies.

Ever wonder why you see gas stations close down? Because they don't sell enough candy bars. That's right, the profit on the products sold inside the gas station are more profitable than the gasoline.

So now let's talk about Nansy Pelosi. Do you think she understands business? Do you think she has ever risked her livelihood on a business venture? Does she know what it feels like to drill a dry hole?

H**l no. But how much does the federal government make on a gallon of gas? 3 TIMES AS MUCH AS THE OIL COMPANIES MAKE.

So let me get this straight. You mean to tell me, the Federal Government earns 27 cents on every gallon of gas, without having to take on an ounce of risk? And to top it off, the states make on average a dollar a gallon, and they never have to drill a dry hole?

Do you honestly think ExxonMobile and the power of the United States Government are at all comparable? That's a delusion.

Blame the big, bad, oil companies for all your woes, Mr. Irish Curse, but the next time your on your way to your lefist rally at your local non-franchised coffee shop, think about who made it possible for you to get there.

Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Mike, WMD was THE compelling reason that the war was sold to Congress, and the American people. Please do not minimize it, as only "one of seven reasons". We were misled. We should not send thousands of our soldiers to die due to anyones "gut" feeling. And if you feel we have an obligation to force democracy on other nations, we have dozens of countries, entire continents, and the majority of the worlds population, to take on next.

Posted by: Jay M in NC | July 12, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Ah, but Bush gave those seven reasons at various times. We started off with Iraq making nuclear weapons and providing them to terrorists. When that was proven wrong, it was other WMD's for use against our allies. That, of course, was shown to be a crock. Then, it was ridding the world of Saddam the international war criminal. Then, it was bringing Democracy to Iraq. The problem all along has been, the excuses change, but the real reason is largely unknown. I think it was because Saddqm stuck "dads" picure on a floor where people walked on it. I genuinely believe Bush is that petty and shallow. Others think it was a part of Cheney and Bush's desire for a steady supply of cheap oil. Others still think it was at the behest of Halliburton and other contractors that saw a quick way of making millions. Who knows. It might be all of those reasons. What we do know is that this war was misled, undermanned, poorly planned, and done wothout any thought as to the consequences. Now we have a mess, one that no amount of time or "surges" will fix. A bloodbath and instability in the Middle East is the inevitable result and there is nothing we can do about it. Throwing more American lives and treasure into that rathole accomplishes nothing. Best to get out now before Bush degrades our military to where it is useless and bankrupts our economy.

Posted by: MikeB | July 12, 2007 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Mike, are you still living in Feb 2003? Shrub and companies "seven reasons for war" seem to have been pretty well documented over the last few years as well lies...You seem to be a gop apologist but please spare us all from the bile of your point number two..Saudi Arabia is our "best friend" in the mid -east, and are they the shining beacon of "human rights and dignity" you bloviate about?..give me a friggin break dude..it is and has been all about OIL....

Posted by: TheIrishCurse | July 12, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

1. What false pretences? Bush gave 7 reasons for war, and WMD's was only one of them. Even Tenet, a Clintonian, said in his "gut" he thought they were there.

2. We not only have a right, we have an obligation. Human beings are naturally meant to be free, and to have human rights and dignity. That's what makes us strong, and what compels us to help the oppressed.

3. You're right, we shouldn't leave and watch the mass murdering that will take place in our absence.

4. See point 2.

Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

The war was based on totally false pretences.
Secondly, we have no right to be the "worlds policeman". Third, it is a civil war and will be very bloody whenever we leave. Finally, we have no right to try shove "democracy" down another countries throat. If we insist on all democracies, where do we stop? Think about it. How arrogant can we be. Our stature in the world has tanked, unless you are one of the countries laughing at us.

Posted by: Jay M in NC | July 12, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

It's clear that the Dems can do much more than is currently being done to end the war. Will there be a political cost? Absolutely. But principles need to start meaning more than politics.

http://political-buzz.com/

Posted by: matt | July 12, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats never had a "mandate" to end the war and come home. Their approval rating has collapsed to levels equivalent of dictators because the American people are disgusted with their performance. The left wing of that party has maimed and disfigured it to such a degree, that it has become the party of defeat and genocide.

Americans don't embrace defeat the way George Soros is telling Pelosi and Reed every morning on their 7:00am conference call. Americans don't like waving the white flag of surrender. We don't want to lose this war. And that's why we're mad at Bush, too.

If there's anything the democrats can do, it's stop pushing this defeatist agenda, which is irresponsible and frightening. It not only cheapens the sacrafices of our fellow men and women in uniform, but it completely disregards the consequences of an Iraq left to the terrorists.

Here's another thing democrats can do: Stop calling our troops names. Stop presuming they are guilty. Those charges against those 2 Marines were dropped, Mr. Murtha, so you can shut your fat, ignorant mouth and apologize for calling them "Murderers". As a Marine Officer, who has chosen to serve this country, I am disgusted by this "debate".

Here's one final thing the democrats can do - their research. Stop calling this war a failure. Stop demoralizing the troops on the ground. Stop emboldening the enemy, which puts AMERICAN LIVES AT RISK.

Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

How much can the do?

Somewhere between 'more than they're doing now' and 'not much'.

The end of the war in Iraq will now happen as a result of political timelines and what's best for individual politicians' election prospects, rather than what's best for the country; unfortunately those things can sometimes be two different things.

In the 2002 vote for approval of use of force in Iraq that got us into this mess, we saw the GOP force the Dems to vote for the war or risk looking 'weak' on security right before an election. Now we see the Dems eliciting payback on the GOP, in tying them to an unpopular war in the face of an upcoming election. Dem calls for immediate withdrawl are idiotic. Perhaps with some luck they can force the Pres to accept & implement the ISG's findings, which at this stage is probably the best of a whole lot of bad options.

Posted by: bsimon | July 12, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I agree wholeheartedly with the first three posters. When it comes to the Iraq debate, the Senate is actually doing a pretty good job, and about as good as possible considering their thin majority and less than spectacular leadership.

The Republican filibuster of the recent troop leave bill was a horrible tactical error by Minority Leader McConnell. Why not allow the debate? You know that Bush will likely veto the bill when it passes. McConnell weakened Senate Republicans by allowing them to come down on the wrong side of supporting the troops.

Ultimately, the GOP is positioning themselves for an even worse beating in 2008 than they received in 2006. While they may still reduce the Democratic majority in the house, they're all but certain to lose the White House and as many as 5 net Senate seats.

Posted by: JamesCH | July 12, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Today was a historic first for religion in America's civic life: For the very first time, a Hindu delivered the morning invocation in the Senate chamber -- only to find the ceremony disrupted by three Christian right activists.

We have video of the astonishing scene, and we'll be sharing it with you shortly.

The three protesters, who all belong to the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America, and who apparently traveled to Washington all the way from North Carolina, interrupted by loudly asking for God's forgiveness for allowing the false prayer of a Hindu in the Senate chamber.

"Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," the first protester began.

"This is an abomination," he continued. "We shall have no other gods before You."

christian nutcakes in the Senate. figures.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse


Biden: "This progress report is like the guy who's falling from a 100-story building and says half-way down that 'everything's fine.'"

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

The D majority's too slim to override certain presidential vetos and republican filibusters, so not much they can do... until next spring. Our own generals say that is the limit to keeping the same troop strength, because recruitment is down, equipment is lacking or in terrible shape, and they can't sustain it. And of course, it's an election year. By then enough R's will defect to tip the balance and the drawdown will start.

I will wager here today that absolutely no progress will have been made by that time, but sadly, many more lives will have been lost.

Posted by: Cassandra | July 12, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Ideally, those of us in this country who knew George Bush and Co. wanted to wage war in Iraq even before he was coronated by the 5-4 Supreme Court decision would like some vindication related to this trumped up conflagration.

While, it would be nice to believe that everyone (including politicians) has good intentions behind their actions and that those in the highest levels of government act with a sense of higher purpose, representing all Americans, this ideal has been proven untenable by this administration time and time again. They act out of self-interest and within a preconceived agenda, regardless of the outcomes. This is the case in Iraq as much as it was the case with Dick Cheney's secretive energy policy meetings.

There is a denial of reality with this White House that a 50 - 49 Senate majority cannot assuage. The Democrats can only do so much and most of it will be no better than symbolic. With the intense assertions of executive power that Bush continues to make, the end of this "war" and any other meaningful matters will be decided in the courts, long after Bush and Co. have crept off, under the cover of darkness, leaving behind a mess of their own delusionary denial.

In the meantime, fight fire with fire, Durbin and the majority Democrats should use every conceivable tactic and procedural maneuver to ensure that the damage done by Bush is limited to what has already taken place. The U.S. Constitution established three co-equal branches and it's about time the Congress asserted its equality, with confidence that the vast majority of the country supports their efforts to limit the damage. It's certainly not too early to start thinking about cleaning up the mess that has been created over the past 6 1/2 years.

Posted by: Tom Mason | July 12, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Of course it is not realistic. Not only is the Democratic majority slim, but not all members of that majority support radical action on the war. The only way the Congress will be able to bring an abrupt end to the war is if enough Republicans join in with the Democrats. Frankly, I don't think that is going to happen barring some catastrophic event (not that the war itself isn't one). Furthermore, with the top tier of the Republican presidential candidates all supporting the war there isn't tremendous pressure on Congressional Republicans to change their tune.

I'm really sick and tired of people like John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich braying that all the troops need to leave at this very moment. First of all, that's not a political reality, so start offering a workable plan. Second of all, taking all the troops out of Iraq is a bad idea. We need to gradually withdraw and leave behind a few residual forces to ensure some degree of security in the capital and around vital infrastructure.

Even though the Take Back America crowd doesn't like to hear the truth, the truth is that it is up to the Iraqis and their government now to stand up and take control of the situation.

Posted by: Janine | July 12, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

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