Tuesday, November 29, 2005

 

Democrats Supported Iraq War for Votes

They didn't want to take a stand until after facing voters

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle admitted that Democrats voted for the Iraqi war resolution either to garner votes or out of sheer political cowardice:
Tom Daschle, the former Democratic senator from South Dakota, remembers the exchange vividly.

The time was September 2002. The place was the White House, at a meeting in which President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney pressed congressional leaders for a quick vote on a resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

But Daschle, who as Senate majority leader controlled the chamber's schedule, recalled recently that he asked Bush to delay the vote until after the impending midterm election.

'I asked directly if we could delay this so we could depoliticize it. I said: 'Mr. President, I know this is urgent, but why the rush? Why do we have to do this now?' He looked at Cheney and he looked at me, and there was a half-smile on his face. And he said: 'We just have to do this now.' '
The arrogance of Daschle's attitude is breathtaking. Don Surber cites another Daschle quote from the article and comments:
“There was a sense I had from the very beginning that this was in part politically motivated, and they were going to maximize the timing to affect those who were having some doubt about this right before the election,” Daschle said.

In other words, Daschle and other Democrats only supported this war to get through an election. What monsters.

It was a gut check. Bush did not want to be hobbled by a 52-47 vote in the Senate as his father had been going into the Gulf War. Part of the reason America failed to go to Baghdad in 1991 was lackluster congressional support.

As the Senate Majority Leader, Daschle could have delayed the vote indefinitely. This was a man who had usurped the senatorial elections of 2000 by getting Jim Jeffords to leave the Republican Party.

Agreeing to send troops into battle -- agreeing to place our young men and women in harm’s way -- just to win re-election is a new low for Democrats.
If only that was their nadir.

Blogging about this reminded me of this article by Christopher Hitchens in which he makes the following point:
What do you have to believe in order to keep alive your conviction that the Bush administration conspired to launch a lie-based war? As with (I admit) the pro-war case, the ground of argument has a tendency to shift. I saw two examples in Washington last week. An exceptionally moth-eaten and shabby picket line outside Ahmad Chalabi's event on Wednesday featured a man with a placard alleging that Bush had prearranged the 9/11 attacks. I know a number of left and right anti-warriors who have flirted with this possibility but very few who truly believe it. (Even Gore Vidal, who did at one point insinuate the idea, has recently withdrawn it, if only on the grounds of the administration's incompetence.)

But then there is the really superb pedantry and literal-mindedness on which the remainder of the case depends. This achieved something close to an apotheosis on the front page of the Washington Post on Nov. 12, where Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus brought complete gravity to bear. Is it true, as the president claimed in his Veterans Day speech, that Congress saw the same intelligence sources before the war, and is it true that independent commissions have concluded that there was no willful misrepresentation? Top form was reached on the inside page:
But in trying to set the record straight, [Bush] asserted: "When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support."

The October 2002 joint resolution authorized the use of force in Iraq, but it did not directly mention the removal of Hussein from power.
A prize, then, for investigative courage, to Milbank and Pincus. They have identified the same problem, though this time upside down, as that which arose from the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act, during the Clinton-Gore administration, in 1998. That legislation—which passed the Senate without a dissenting vote—did expressly call for the removal of Saddam Hussein but did not actually mention the use of direct U.S. military force.

Let us suppose, then, that we can find a senator who voted for the 1998 act to remove Saddam Hussein yet did not anticipate that it might entail the use of force, and who later voted for the 2002 resolution and did not appreciate that the authorization of force would entail the removal of Saddam Hussein! Would this senator kindly stand up and take a bow? He or she embodies all the moral and intellectual force of the anti-war movement. And don't be bashful, ladies and gentlemen of the "shocked, shocked" faction, we already know who you are.
Yes we do. And we also know that the Democrats are completely unfit to hold power.

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