Friday, February 23, 2007

The Democratic Party -- They Give Up Faster Than The French

Well, it looks John Murtha's "slow-bleed" strategy has failed before it was given a chance to work. You have to give the Democrats credit for being consistent -- they will give up on anything if it gets politically risky...
Senate Democratic leaders intend to unveil a plan next week to repeal the 2002 resolution authorizing the war in Iraq in favor of narrower authority that restricts the military's role and begins withdrawals of combat troops.

House Democrats have pulled back from efforts to link additional funding for the war to strict troop-readiness standards after the proposal came under withering fire from Republicans and from their party's own moderates. That strategy was championed by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) and endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

"If you strictly limit a commander's ability to rotate troops in and out of Iraq, that kind of inflexibility could put some missions and some troops at risk," said Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Tex.), who personally lodged his concerns with Murtha.

In both chambers, Democratic lawmakers are eager to take up binding legislation that would impose clear limits on U.S. involvement in Iraq after nearly four years of war. But Democrats remain divided over how to proceed. Some want to avoid the funding debate altogether, fearing it would invite Republican charges that the party is not supporting the troops. Others take a more aggressive view, believing the most effective way to confront President Bush's war policy is through a $100 billion war-spending bill that the president ultimately must sign to keep the war effort on track.

...Murtha, chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee and a leading critic of the war, had intended to fully fund Bush's $100 billion war request for the remainder of this fiscal year. But under his plan, those funds could be spent only to deploy combat troops deemed fully rested, trained and equipped.

After nearly four years of combat, most military units would not be able to meet those standards. Although the war would be fully funded, the policy would prevent some of the 21,500 additional combat troops from being deployed, and some troops already in Iraq would have to be sent home.

But that approach may be all but dead, according to several Democratic lawmakers. Murtha doomed his own plan in part by unveiling it on a left-wing Web site, inflaming party moderates.

"Congress has no business micromanaging a war, cutting off funding or even conditioning those funds," said Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.), a leading Democratic moderate, who called Murtha's whole effort "clumsy."

Cooper's position underscores the challenges now facing the House Democratic leadership. While the caucus's liberal wing is demanding legislation to end the war almost immediately, moderates such as Cooper say Congress should focus on oversight of the war and stay away from legislation that encroaches on the war powers of the president.

"I think Congress begins to skate on thin ice when we start to micromanage troop deployments and rotations," said Texas's Edwards, whose views reflect those of several other Democrats from conservative districts.
To be fair, this approach may be more reasonable in that it doesn't offend my conscience nearly as much as Murtha's cynical ploy to lose the war on the installment plan. But it's still a sheer act of legislative manipulation that shows a lack of courage to take the action that they should take, if they believe our effort is doomed to fail -- and that's cut off funding. And as a Constitutional matter, that's all they can do.

Empty non-binding resolutions mean nothing. The restrictive resolutions being championed by Murtha would effectively tie the hands of the President as Commander-in-Chief, and he could conceiveably opt to ignore them, inviting a lawsuit to resolve the constitutionality of the measure -- and the Supreme Court is very likely to take such a lawsuit and toss it back to the executive and legislative branches by stating that it is a political issue and the Court will not intervene. Rich Lowry elaborates why the latest approach of "unauthorizing/re-authorizing" won't work either...
If it's vague and general, it won't have any effect, because Bush can continue to order combat operations whether they are semi-authorized or non-authorized or whatever. If it's very specific and tries to ban certain operations, it will be unconstitutional. Again, if the Democrats want to end the war, there is a simple and constitutional way to do it—cut off the funding. Every other clever maneuver will be ineffective or unconstitutional.
Ineffective or unconstitutional -- that's a nice summary of Congress' activities on the war right now.


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