Friday, November 18, 2005


House GOP Seeks Quick Vote on Iraq Pullout

Political Genius

The GOP leadership decided to act little more than 24 hours after Rep. Jack Murtha, a hawkish Democrat with close ties to the military, said the time had come to pull out the troops. By forcing the issue to a vote, Republicans placed many Democrats in a politically unappealing position - whether to side with Murtha and expose themselves to attacks from the White House and congressional Republicans, or whether to oppose him and risk angering the voters that polls show want an end to the conflict.
This is a absolutely perfect and puts the Democrats in the exact same position as they were in the summer and fall of 2002 when they boxed themselves into a debating the war above other issues in which they had a better arguments like the economy.
Murtha's resolution would force the president to withdrawal the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq "at the earliest predictable date."

Most Republicans oppose Murtha's plan, and even some Democrats have been reluctant to back his position. Republicans were seeking to force Democrats to stand with the respected 30-year congressman or go on the record against his proposal.
What also should be said is that our troops deserve to be supported by our political institutions so a vote of no confidence, giving the Democrats recent rhetoric, is perfectly acceptable. In fact, it is preferable to the sniping and innuendo that has gone on concerning the reasons we entered the war.

Bravo! It is time to put up or shut up.


The Republicans did not use the language of Murtha's resolution and that was a mistake, politically and morally. This was an opportunity to support our troops by forcing the Democrats to vote on language that would have been an explicit statement on staying the course. Powerline reports:
The House leadership had a golden opportunity to make the Democrats put up or shut up tonight, and I'm afraid they blew it. Rep. John Murtha offered a resolution demanding surrender in Iraq within six months (at least, that's how the New York Times describes it; I haven't seen the actual text, and news reports have varied.) If the House leadership had precipitated a vote on what Murtha actually proposed, we could have had a useful moment of clarity. Instead, however, they scheduled a vote on a resolution calling for immediate withdrawal, which was how Murtha's resolution was widely reported, but, apparently, not quite what it said. That gave the Democrats an easy out; they opposed it, and it failed overwhelmingly (403-3 is the last tally I've seen.)

So nothing was accomplished. And the debate, needless to say, was less than edifying. The Democrats mainly expressed outrage over the vicious personal attacks on Murtha by the President and Vice-President--which, of course, never occurred. The Republicans made a little more sense, but, given that the entire vote was a charade, no one will care. The bottom line, I'm afraid, is that it was a missed opportunity.

UPDATE: "At the earliest predictable date" is apparently the language Murtha actually used. That's a meaningless phrase. The earliest predictable date would mean, I suppose, starting tomorrow. Nevertheless, it was a bad tactical mistake for the Republican leadership not to use Murtha's own language. Let the Democrats struggle to explain what it was supposed to mean. As it is, they were easily able to wriggle off the hook.

FURTHER UPDATE: Murtha's resolution actually says "earliest practicable date," which makes more sense and is essentially the same as "immediate withdrawal." The reporting on this has been abysmal.

John O adds: Powerline gets it wrong. Captain Ed is closer to the mark:
The Republicans made the right move -- instead of debating the issue through the media, they took the Democratic demands and introduced it as a resolution for debate where rhetoric actually counts, and where both sides get equal time. In the Democratic world, that equates to something vaguely unfair. They tried to hide behind a procedural block, and when that didn't work, they screamed and hollered in support of the idea of withdrawal -- and then promptly voted against it when it counted.
Let the media and the Democrats whine about this. It just makes them look foolish. So what if the Republicans didn't extract maximum partisan gain from this? Is that what this is all about? Besides, there will be time for this later as Murtha's resolution could be re-introduced in its original form, something which I'd really like to see.

This has provided the war effort with a badly needed (if temporary) boost. The net effect of this will be to discredit the anti-war Democrats in Congress and conterbalance what the Senate did earlier in the week. Indeed, supporters of the war could hardly have undermined the Democratic (and media) anti-war movement in a more spectacular way. And at a time when this dearly needed to be done.


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