Saturday, February 17, 2007

Less Than Nothing

In the end, the United States Senate, and thus the Congress, did even less than the nothing I figured they would accomplish in regards to Iraq. Today, the Senate refused to vote for cloture on a "sense of the Senate" resolution on Iraq, S.574. The vote, was 56-34 in favor of cloture, with 60 votes being required. The mathematicians among you will note that there were 10 no-shows for this vote. Here's a quick breakdown of the vote:

  • The "yea" votes consisted of all the Democrats, Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, and seven Republicans:

    Coleman (R-MN)
    Collins (R-ME)
    Hagel (R-NE)
    Smith (R-OR)
    Snowe (R-ME)
    Specter (R-PA)
    Warner (R-VA)

    So at least a few Republicans appear to have voted their conscience for once.

  • Joe Lieberman (I-CT), voted "nay" in keeping with his support for the war, which only wained while it appeared it would prevent his re-election last fall.

  • The no-shows included one Democrat, Tim Johnson of SD, and nine Republicans.

  • Among the Republican no-shows was John Ensign (R-NV), whose opponent in the last election was among the ones Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate majority leader, gave little real support in the last election. Together with the continued presence of Joe Lieberman, whose opponent Reid also refused to support, you can lay at least some of the blame for this defeat at Harry Reid's feet.

In fairness, Reid did force this vote on a Saturday before a holiday weekend. He risked honking some of the Senators off in order to get them on record. For that, he deserves credit.

Taylor Marsh has the video if you're masochistic enough to want to watch the instant replay. Taylor's discussion of the vote is a bit misleading, I think. The vote really was about ending debate and voting on the bill. To quote the Washington Post:

Senate Republicans today blocked a floor vote on a House-passed resolution that expresses disapproval of President Bush's plan to send thousands of additional U.S. troops to Iraq, as a procedural motion to cut off debate on the measure fell short of the 60 votes needed.

Senate Republicans Block Floor Vote on Iraq Resolution

In short, the Senate refused to vote on the bill. Taylor has the basics down, though. The Senate shrank from its responsibilities today.

What we, the American people who now overwhelmingly are opposed to the Iraq War, are left with is less than nothing. The Congress has once again abdicated its responsibility to end or at least curtail this folly. It would not even vote on a tepid resolution opposing the latest escalation by the President. Americans and Iraqis will continue to kill each other in a pointless struggle, because some members of the Senate would rather cower in a corner than do their jobs.

UPDATE: (Feb. 18) Glenn Greenwald highlights an interview of Lt. Gen. William Odom (ret.), a long-time critic of the Iraq War. Odom's been right on the money about what was going to happen in Iraq. I think it was almost two years ago now that he predicted that all we'd succeed in doing in Iraq was to more heavily arm all sides in the civil war that's going to come. This interview was conducted by clueless wingnut turned pundit Hugh Hewitt. This money quote came when Hewitt started to give him crap about his assertion that we should pull out of Iraq so we don't do any more damage:

HH: Did you see Cambodia coming, General?

WO: And following -- let me ask you. Are you enthusiastic enough to put on a uniform and go?

HH: No. I'm a civilian.

WO: Okay, but we can recruit you.

HH: I'm 51, General.

WO: And I don't see all these war hawks that want to -- none of them have been in a war, and they don't want to go.

Took the words right out of my mouth, General.

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