Democrats & Liberals Archives

Democrats: Don't Be Timid!

The veto on the war spending bill is now official, and the ball is in the Democrats’ court.

Now is the time to pressure our Democratic lawmakers not only to hold their ground but to be even more assertive. Bush has already refused your compromise: take something away.

When a petulant child misbehaves, no one advises the parents to compromise with him. That would reward the bad behavior and encourage more mischief. Bush may not be a child, but he certainly acts like one. Frankly I'm happy for this veto. The embedded timelines in the bill gave Bush far too much latitude to simply ignore them. The American people are fed up. If the Democrats can get a tougher bill to pass, it will be the President who is then up against the wall. As time is running out his veto would become the thing that denies support for the troops.

It has always been this president and his administration who is most guilty of not supporting our troops:

Insufficient body armor
Stop-loss extensions of tours of duty
Recalling soldiers for third redeployments
Insufficient training for national guard sent for service
Not taking care of our returning veterans

If the Dems can't get sufficient support for making the redeployment out of Iraq mandatory, then they should add more conditions IN SUPPORT OF THE TROOPS based on the foregoing. They should not remove language calling for redeployment out of Iraq, also IN SUPPORT OF THE TROOPS, in order to make Bush's signing more likely.

The conventional wisdom says the timetable will be removed in favor of more solid benchmarks. That is based on the reality that the vote on the last bill was close, and some Senators seem unlikely to be willing to hold their ground. The conventional wisdom can change if enough of those Senators and Congresspeople hear from their constituents demanding that they not cave in to a president intent on defying the will of the people. If the Democrats stay tough, the charge that they are not supporting the troops will not have sticking power.

It has become quite evident that it is Bush who will not support the very troops who he is asking to risk their lives for his misadventure. Support our troops. Demand that they be brought home!

Posted by Walker Willingham at May 2, 2007 11:17 AM
Comments
Comment #219049

Walker
I’m a little confused here.

You write: “The embedded timelines in the bill gave Bush far too much latitude to simply ignore them”

BillS says: “Yes there is a flexible timetable. A timetable IS an exit strategy”

Paul Siegel says: “Leaving Iraq now and getting Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’a Iran to take over the job of reconciliation”

But, American Pundit says: “it’s a right wing-nut myth — like the lie that the Iraq funding bill has timetables and calls for the withdrawal of all US troops. It’s just not true”

“Nobody’s pulling out of Iraq, Jack”

“There is nothing in the Iraq funding bill that says all the troops must leave”


Both, AP and yourself, seem to have read alot about this bill, why the difference?

Posted by: kctim at May 2, 2007 12:22 PM
Comment #219050

Walker,

“Frankly I’m happy for this veto.”


That makes two of us. This “bill” was a total sham from the onset; Pelosi had to bribe people and load it with “pork”. Bush was correct to “VETO” this bill.


“If the Democrats can get a tougher bill to pass, it will be the President who is then up against the wall.”

They won’t b/c, one, they’ll have to put another pullout stipulation in there to please the anti-war nuts in their party; which they won’t do b/c Bush has proven that he’ll “VETO” it. And two, it would mean the dems will (actually) have to do something and take a stand.

Posted by: rahdigly at May 2, 2007 12:35 PM
Comment #219052

“Frankly I’m happy for this veto. The embedded timelines in the bill gave Bush far too much latitude to simply ignore them. The American people are fed up. If the Democrats can get a tougher bill to pass, it will be the President who is then up against the wall. As time is running out his veto would become the thing that denies support for the troops.”

I’m saddened to read comments like this. It shows how much concern YOU have for our troops.

Posted by: tomd at May 2, 2007 12:41 PM
Comment #219056

I’ve always found the administration’s use of the phrase “support the troops” to represent a callous, cynical attitude on their part. Folks have called for all kinds of things to make life and the mission easier for the troops, and the Bush administration has just let things get worse and worse for them.

The phrase always seems to mean “support my policy”, as if the policy is the only one that could possibly get the… No, as if his policy was getting the job done at all! Things have gotten progressively worse under that policy, which Bush has used our soldiers as a human shield for, to try and duck the reasonable criticisms of any policy that fails to do its job.

And the Right Wing just keeps on defending this because of some ideological need to blame Democrats and dissenting Americans (now the majority) for the weakness of our foreign policy. I guess that beats admitting the policy hasn’t worked for practical reasons.

The Republicans and Right-Wingers should face the sobering fact that their insistence on positive publicity as a condition to win the war has lead them to neglect the strategies and the issues that might have won the war for them, had they taken care of it. They chose the wrong strategy for victory. What happens with the next war we get into?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 2, 2007 12:57 PM
Comment #219058

kctim,

Well, we’re not an entirely hegemonious bunch over here - thankfully.

The bill is also long enough that there is room for varied interpretations. I admit to getting my sense of it from a variety of second hand sources, but your comment prompted me to find the actual text. (Hopefully the link will work - I’ve had some problems in the past with pasted links from Thomas searches, though.)

At any rate, I think the relevant portion is this:

(Sec. 1315) Directs the President to commence the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq no later than 120 days after the enactment of this Act, with the goal of redeploying, by March 31, 2008, all U.S. combat forces from Iraq except for a limited number essential for: (1) protecting U.S. and coalition personnel and infrastructure; (2) training and equipping Iraqi forces; and (3) conducting targeted counterterrorism operations. Requires redeployment implementation as part of a comprehensive diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq’s neighbors and the international community to collectively bring stability to Iraq. Requires reports from the President to Congress every 90 days on progress made in implementing such redeployment.
Requires a joint report to Congress every 60 days by the Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq and the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq describing progress made in achieving specified benchmarks toward the stability of government in Iraq.”
The direction to commence redeployment is pretty specific, but numbers are not specified, the end date is only “a goal”, and there are specific exceptions to leave some troops behind. The Administration could have “technically” complied with the bill by drawing down the forces by a tiny amount in 120 days, and claiming that the situation on the ground made reaching the goal impossible.

Anti-Iraq war democrats are understandably unhappy with that much latitude in the bill’s language. The presence of a bunch of unrelated to the war provisions in the bill is in my view, a much stronger case against it. Of course, that language was added as an incentive for antiwar liberals unhappy with funding the war as much as this bill would have, to have other reasons to vote for it. Strenthening the timetable provisions, and/or specifying disallowed uses for the war money, might supplant all the unrelated stuff and keep those votes.

I’m for most of that other stuff, but really dislike the tactic of muddying a bill’s purpose for the sake of garnering votes. I agree with Woody’s recent post that the Dems need to be passing more positive legislation, but I think they should do it in lots of separate bills and force Bush to start vetoing populist legislation.

My own preference would be to simply stop funding the war altogether, but I know the votes are not there for that. If the Dems were better at reading public opinion, they should know they have the leverage to be more forceful, not less. I could live with a bill that funds some of the continuing combat operations as long as it REQUIRES real compromise from the White House.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at May 2, 2007 1:04 PM
Comment #219061

Thanks for a sensible reply and the link Walker.
The link worked, btw.

Posted by: kctim at May 2, 2007 1:14 PM
Comment #219063

tomd

I’m saddened to read comments like this. It shows how much concern YOU have for our troops.
No doubt you infer from my political observation that sending Bush a tougher bill that will put HIM up against the wall, that my motive is a cynical attempt to win this battle, and I would sacrifice the safety of the troops to do so. But if the money simply isn’t there, there is still enough to manage the logistics of redeploying them out of Iraq while managing their safety at least at the level of what it currently is every day. Failure to bring them home under those circumstances would be gross negligence on the part of this administration. From the point of view of the troops, the earlier they are all back, the smaller the risks they face.

I don’t pretend to know how Iraq will fare given a precipitous withdrawal versus a phased one. It was in awful shape under Hussein’s tyranny, it’s in even worse shape under today’s chaos, and it’s likely to continue to be in bad shape for years to come regardless of what we do. If there was a doable course of action that would clearly help that nation out, then we certainly now owe them that. However, nothing convinces me that there is.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at May 2, 2007 1:23 PM
Comment #219072

Walker… great post… thanks. One point, though… I am not sure the Prez will be up against any wall if congress were to be able to get their act together and send him a tougher bill. I’m not saying I disagree with you, mind you, I’m just saying that in these President-Congressional showdowns, the President almost always come out looking better than congress.

Remember the budget showdown when the Republican Congress sent President Slick Willy a budget that the American people were generally in favor of and Clinton vetoed it time and again because it did not have enough money for things and stuff (technical terms) he wanted? It escalated clear to the point of governmental shutdowns. Clinton repeatedly defied the will of the people (Congress) to the point that services were shut down until congress finally gave him legislation he could support. The Reps in Congress tried to make Slick Willy look like a demon because he was shutting down government in his opposition to the will of said people… however, Clinton was able to actually turn that around and demonize the congress.

In these face-offs the congress is generally just a bunch of faceless politicians in Washington always fighting amongst themselves while the president is usually able to present a more personal, caring persona in his interactions with the American People. This is how this bumbler-of-a-president has been able to get away with this for so long, by “if you don’t support me you don’t support the troops”-ing us until we actually believe it.

Am I making any sense? I usually don’t… but my point is this… I’m not sure the congress can win a PR battle over this issue… even if they are right.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at May 2, 2007 2:14 PM
Comment #219075

There is a way for Congress to succeed.

First, strip the “pork” from the bill. Present Bush with separate bills for “pork” such as funding for bird flu preparation, levee repair for New Orleans, relief funding for Katrina victims, and assistance for the ag sector. I would dare Bush to veto those individual emergency supplementals. Go for it.

Second, present him with a “clean” bill funding Iraq and the troops. Wait a month or two, and let him feel the heat. Veto that, and it is over. No money for Iraq.

The difficulty is putting together enough votes for a revised bill. The first one required a lot of political wheeling and dealing, and even then it barely passed. Congress may be very hard pressed to come up with a new one, but judging from the superb performances of Pelosi and Reid, I think they will manage.

Posted by: phx8 at May 2, 2007 2:35 PM
Comment #219087

This whole show was purely about politics. To Congress and Bush, this has nothing to do with funding or ending the war. This was all about trying to make the other side look bad, nothing else.

If you ask me, they all succeeded with flying colors.

President Bush refuses to do what it takes to win, because increasing troop levels and combat missions would be politically unpopular.
The Democrats refuse to do what it takes to end the war because they don’t want to be blamed for chaos that would ensue when we leave.

Neither side wants to be seen working with the other because it would hurt their standing with their respective basses.
Both sides are accusing each other of not listing to our military commanders. They’re both correct on that point.

This is the one issue the parties should be working together and agreeing on. Congress should have worked together with the President and the military leaders on every aspect of this bill from the day it was conceived to the day it was voted on.
Instead, the President and the Congress have engineered a political stalemate, almost as if they wanted one. Meanwhile, Iraqis continue to get blown up and our troops get killed because they are both under equipped and not allowed to be effective in combat.

So is there anyone in our government who actually cares about our troops or the Iraqi people? If there is, they are being strangely silent.

Posted by: TheTraveler at May 2, 2007 4:03 PM
Comment #219088

kctm
There was some confusion between the House bill and the Senate bill. The house called for firm deadlines. The Senate for a “goal”. During the conference the Senate language was put forward declaring a “goal’ for troop withdrawel. Bush would not even agree to that. Does he even have withdrawel in mind?

Posted by: BillS at May 2, 2007 4:25 PM
Comment #219089

Traveler

Wrong. This was a reasonable proposal. There was enough flexibility built in to give latitude to the military and the Iraqi government. It is a sad day. This congress will not give Bush a blank check for an open ended conflict and that is what he is insisting upon.He could have began the ending of this mis adventure with a signature.The blame falls entirly on this administration.

Posted by: BillS at May 2, 2007 4:33 PM
Comment #219092

“No doubt you infer from my political observation that sending Bush a tougher bill that will put HIM up against the wall, that my motive is a cynical attempt to win this battle, and I would sacrifice the safety of the troops to do so. But if the money simply isn’t there, there is still enough to manage the logistics of redeploying them out of Iraq while managing their safety at least at the level of what it currently is every day. Failure to bring them home under those circumstances would be gross negligence on the part of this administration. From the point of view of the troops, the earlier they are all back, the smaller the risks they face.”

You want to play a game of political chess with our troops as pawns.

As I said. It shows YOUR level of concern for them. It’s sad.

Posted by: tomd at May 2, 2007 4:57 PM
Comment #219094

“Democrats: Don’t Be Timid!”


Too late.

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 2, 2007 5:38 PM
Comment #219095

BillS,

Wrong.

About what, specifically?

This was a reasonable proposal.

Why? Because the people you support came up with it?
Congress has a responsibility to work with the military and give them exactly what they need. If they want to change strategy, they need to work with the military to make sure it’s feasible.
Instead, they did whatever they wanted for the sake of politics, regardless of the consequences.
That’s why they purposely came up with a bill they new the president would veto, without even attempting to compromise on anything.

This congress will not give Bush a blank check for an open ended conflict and that is what he is insisting upon.

What makes you think so? Congress never worked with Bush on this. Except, of course, for a few “just for show” meetings Pelosi and Reed had with him. That doesn’t really count as working together, does it?

The blame falls entirly on this administration.

I’ve got news for you. Just because you dislike Bush, it doesn’t mean that everything the Democrats do is right. On this bill, I’d say the failure was 50/50. No one did (or even wanted to do) the right thing.

I’m glad I’m an independent. You don’t have to defend a particular side all the time. You never have to pretend that two wrongs make a right.

And for the record, I’m not defending Bush. Even though I don’t like this bill or the way it was made, he should not have vetoed it! If he disliked it that much, he should have let it become law without signing it. This is emergency war spending, for God’s sake!

Both sides stop playing politics and start taking this a lot more seriously!

Posted by: TheTraveler at May 2, 2007 5:39 PM
Comment #219101

Tomd,

I’m a bit confused. Would you mind explaining how bringing the troops home show a “sad” level of concern for them?

-Dutch_expat

Posted by: Dutch_expat at May 2, 2007 5:51 PM
Comment #219106

phx8 pretty well nailed this in post #219075.

I would add that since 2002 our government has pretty much operated as a dictatorship. We Dems can still do damn little to change the direction of things, but we have to try. The process is dirty and no one really likes it, but we must at least try our best.

Too few are being asked to sacrifice too much for this war. Success in both Afghanistan and Iraq is at stake. Of the two, a loss in Afghanistan would be worse, and the Karzia government is teetering on the edge. If we lose Afghanistan the Taliban and Al-Qeada will also gain a great deal of power in Pakistan.

OTOH, our support of the al-Maliki government is really support of the Dawa Party. For crying out loud, check it out yourself:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Dawa_Party

Only Joe Biden has a true alternative plan for Iraq and I even have doubts in that being successful, if it were implemented.

LOOK, we boned it real, real bad for four damn years! We can’t fix it now without removing the government we helped put in power! At the very least we need to truly support our troops and respect the deployment schedules that were in place at the time they volunteered for duty.

Of course we can only do that by reinstating the draft! Oh my! The freaking Republican’ts have been running this war on borrowed money and overextended troops for too damn long!

I would also add that the Bush/Republican FY2007 Supplemental requested only $2.3 Billion for MRAPS (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles, and Joe Biden presented an amendment (#739) to increase that by $1.5 Billion. More MRAPS mean less American deaths and casualties.

It’s time for all American’s to share in this war. Give the Pentagon the money NOW, but let the CinC know that next year is going to be even tougher. Then impeach Bush and Cheney in the meantime.

And increase taxes to pay for this fiasco! My grandkids shouldn’t have to pay for my mistakes.

Posted by: KansasDem at May 2, 2007 6:11 PM
Comment #219107

tomd,

Are you trying to bait me, or are you genuinely confused. Notice that I am not accusing you of not caring for the troops. You may genuinely care for the troops and feel that any failure to fully fund the war effort constitutes “non-support”.

But I assure you that I genuinely believe that allowing a stubborn president to continue to risk the lives of our service people is an unequivocal act of NOT supporting those troops. If I point out that if Congress presents a bill which insists on what I and a majority of Americans believe to a sane course of action to bring the troops home, that it will also put Bush in a bad spot politically, I am not suggesting that is the REASON for doing so. I’m only bucking the conventional wisdom that it’s the Democrats in a corner here.

I may be wrong about the conventional wisdom. I am quite confident on the other hand that not funding the war is the best way to support the troops. It certainly increases their life expectancy, supposing as even I still do that Bush won’t simply leave them there as sitting ducks while funds run out.

You don’t know my heart. I did not put those troops in harm’s way - Bush did.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at May 2, 2007 6:16 PM
Comment #219108

Walker, good response to kctim. I think part of the reason Bush could get away with vetoing this bill is that most people mistakenly thought it had timelines to completely withdraw troops.

But if the money simply isn’t there, there is still enough to manage the logistics of redeploying them

Unless President Bush is such a psychopath so stubborn that he would keep all our troops in Iraq even as the money and ammunition run out, just to make a point.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 2, 2007 6:19 PM
Comment #219113

Walker,
I’m not trying to bait you and I don’t think I’m confused.

I don’t care how much Bush and congress fight over the war. We can argue that all you want. DON’T TAKE ANYTHING FROM THE TROOPS. Adding a “poison pill” to the bill to fund the troops is using them as pawns. That is LOW DOWN. That is what makes me sad and you support it. Am I wrong?

Posted by: tomd at May 2, 2007 6:55 PM
Comment #219119

Why is it that the liberal Democrats had to bribe many of the congressional members with pork to get a bill passed that many of you say the majority of the American people support. You are mistaken to say pulling the plug in Iraq is the “will of the people”. If the wimps in Congress truly believed this was a popular position they would have voted for it overwhelmingly…both parties. There would have been no veto. I want Pelosi and Reid to fashion a bill that simply ends the funding and let Congress vote on that. Where will the braveheart politicians hide then?

Posted by: Jim at May 2, 2007 7:41 PM
Comment #219122
Frankly I’m happy for this veto.

I’m personally mad as hell over the whole damned thing. Congress and the President are engaged in a power game and the party faithful on both sides are applauding the actions of a bunch of two year olds that only care about getting their own way regardless of the cost to our kids in both war zones.
That’s really showing support for the troops. It’s no wonder our youngsters are starting to get the idea that no one here supports them.

Posted by: Ron Brown at May 2, 2007 8:11 PM
Comment #219126

Jim-
Every reputable poll puts numbers against the war about 2/3rds against. The Surge was opposed by even more people than that. The trouble is, the will of the people doesn’t translate yet to the numbers of Senators and Representatives in Congress. While that will likely change with the next election, that will be about two years ahead.

What’s important here is getting the numbers to override the veto.

tomd-
Support the troops? I am sick and tired of those who support the politics of this war, but can’t be bothered with the logistics. I’m telling you that if this president and his party are unwilling to match their heated rhetoric with concerted efforts and marshalling of resources, then it is only just to put an end to their half-ass policies.

Everybody who knows their butt form a hole in the ground on this subject says that Bush’s timescales and numbers are insufficient for the mission he is putting our soldiers into. Now, if he is not giving our soldiers what they need to win in this war, yet is keeping them their indefinitely, he is just setting them up for a corrosive situation that will do far more substantial damage to them than a withdrawal would. If you’re going to put our soldiers in harm’s way, don’t tie an arm behind their backs and hamstring them, like Bush is doing!

The Democrats are at least honest about not supporting this war. They’re not trying to put up some kind of Potemkin village cover for a lack of commitment to it, like Bush is.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 2, 2007 8:29 PM
Comment #219150

Jim,
I am pretty sure you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, and merely repeating talking points. Please be specific. What “pork” are you referring to? This was an emergency supplemental spending bill, NOT the Iraq war funding bill. Hint: there are some items which, in my mind, qualify as pork. They are small quantities, in relative terms, adding to less than 1% of the entire bill. So tell me, Jim, what exacly are you referring to when you talk about “pork”?

Posted by: phx8 at May 2, 2007 10:30 PM
Comment #219177

phx8….speaking of pork, did you see the clip of bush’s veto confirmation today? I am so sick of that sneer he perpetually wears, and he managed to make it more evident when he rejected the “pork” contents of this bill.
I’ve got to check and see who the 7 “blue dog” Dems are who voted against the bill, too, and remember to thank them for helping the other side out. I don’t get how they sleep at night…..it usually isn’t easy to do with a conscience that is so challenged. We just have to keep up the fight and the praise as each applies. I’m sending faxes off to my reps later tonight to encourage them to continue their efforts.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at May 3, 2007 12:03 AM
Comment #219195

“tomd-
Support the troops? I am sick and tired of those who support the politics of this war, but can’t be bothered with the logistics.”

The “politics” of this war is what I’m NOT supporting. Our troops lives shouldn’t be a political football to be bargained for.

You are the ones supporting the “politics of this war.

Posted by: tomd at May 3, 2007 4:23 AM
Comment #219196

Tomd,

Again, please explain how our troops are being bargained for. A simple arguement of: Because of XXX, our troops are being used as bargaining chips.

I get the feeling that you are suggesting that, should the US decide to cut funding, that our troops will somehow not be able to eat, or will not have bullets to defend themselves with. Under no plan, Dem or Rep, is this the case. Should funding be cut off, there would still be money to feed them, keep them paid, and bring them home. They would be NO less safe then, after fund cutting, then they would be now, fully funded. Thus, one’s “concern about the troops” should be no different.

-Dutch_expat

Posted by: Dutch_expat at May 3, 2007 6:00 AM
Comment #219245

Tim Crow,

I am with you on your point that it is too late for the Democrats not to be timid. Does GWB have some kind of mind wrap forcefield around Capitol Hill that sucks the intelligence right out of ones head if you are caught in it?

The list of talking points that the democrats have at their disposal is staggering, and the best they can do is for Harry Reid to say “the war is lost.”

How about, “It wasn’t winnable in the first place—forget winnable, it wasn’t necessary.”

How about, “The lives of our remaining volunteer armed forces are more important than political wrangling with the “president.” What more troop support can their be?

How about questioning Bush’s September 2007 “benchmark” for knowing if the troop surge is working? Why September? His time table for knowing if the “surge” is working is completely arbitary, much more so than any troop withdrawl date? (I realize that Bush is a total idiot so his ability to acquire knowlege of any kind will be far slower than say…a toad. But should the lives of our Armed forces continue to be put in jeopardy because Bush is a retarded moron?)

How about mentioning the pathetic state of the so called Iraqi Army? You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. We have the best fighting force in world, but if “Iraqi soldiers” don’t shoulder any responsibilty there is nothing more our troops can do except what they are doing now—absorbing bullets and bombs.

For all of the false bravado, rhetoric and propaganda of this “president” their is a myriad of legitimate and intelligent counter-arguments to use to expose his ignorance, mismanagement, incompetance, and so on and on and on and on!

For heaven’s sake, if the democrats can’t come up with strong rhetoric of their own, at least begin by borrowing some from Keith Oberman on his Countdown show!

Posted by: Kim-Sue at May 3, 2007 4:19 PM
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