A Democratic proposal to change course in Iraq died in the Senate on Wednesday, after Republicans rallied behind President Bush. The proposal would have forced a reduction in troop strength by giving soldiers as much time at home as they had spent in Iraq before being redeployed. The measure fell four votes shy of the 60 needed to avoid a filibuster. ““It means that Congress will not intervene in the foreseeable future,” said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut Independent.
With the Senate still “bitterly divided” on war policy, said John Bresnahan and Martin Kady II on ThePolitico, Bush is “still firmly in charge.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed to force more votes on setting deadlines for withdrawing from Iraq, but without key swing votes like that of GOP Sen. John Warner of Virginia moderate Republicans won’t have the political cover they would need to switch sides.
Bush won’t give an inch, said Mort Kondracke of Roll Call on RealClearPolitics. He is firmly “convinced that he’s got the right policy in Iraq—and that it can succeed.” Moderate Republicans are itching to declare a change of mission to, say, training and aiding Iraqi forces. But is “determined to stick with” the plan outlined by Gen. David Petraeus last week, “tying troop withdrawals and mission changes to success on the ground.”
Republicans were “emboldened by the diversion” of Petraeus’ testimony on Capitol Hill, said Drew Westen in The New Republic Online. The Democrats are spending all their efforts trying to find a bipartisan compromise they can pass. What their leadership “needs to ask themselves” is “whether they would send their own child to die in this war. If the answer is no, they need to vote as if every soldier were their child.”
Backbone is in short supply in the Democratic Party, said William Kristol in The Daily Standard. Democratic leaders couldn’t even bring themselves to condemn the newspaper ad in which MoveOn.org accused Petraeus of “cooking the books” to show that violence had decreased since this year’s “surge” of troops. “To remain silent in the face of this slander” shows “a striking lack of concern for the reputation and honor of the American military.” And Democrats wonder why they’re having trouble winning new friends?