Friday, March 23, 2007

The Biggest Loser Today? Senate Republicans

With news today of the passage of the Iraq Supplemental Bill has come a wide array of opinions from all sides of the political spectrum. The conventional wisdom on the supplemental goes something like this:

The battle is now joined between Democrats in Congress and President Bush; that Dems are playing a zugzwang on Bush, with three options:
1) Veto the bill, defunding his own war and setting up a battle royale before April 15, at which date the Occupation begins to be truly defunded;
2) Pass the bill, accepting the date-by-certains; or
3) Pass the bill, and simply "signing statement" away the oversight provisions.

But the truth is that the game is not really being played between Dems and President Bush, because everybody and their uncle who is being a realist about the situation knows that the bill will almost certainly not clear the Senate. And, of course, that's exactly what it has to do before it makes it to Bush's desk.

We can pressure as much as we want, but absent some very surprising shifts by some very key members of the Senate, Dems will not get the votes to pass this thing in its current form.

Johnson (D-South Dakota) is still recuperating from his illness, and will not be able to vote on the final bill. Thus, even if every Dem plus Sanders (and minus Lieberman) held their ground, the result in the Senate would be a tie--and ties are decided by Dick Cheney. Joe Lieberman (CfL-Connecticut) obviously won't vote for it. There will probably be at least one or two conservative Dems who bow to Administration and right-wing pressure, and perhaps even a progressive Dem (like Kucinich in the House) who think the bill isn't strong enough and vote that way. The GOP will stand as a bulwark of opposition to the bill, with perhaps one defection.

In other words, this bill is, barring a miracle, DOA in the Senate through Cheney's tiebreaking vote if nothing else.

But while this is bad news for our troops, for our country, and for Iraq, it's actually the best of all possible worlds politically. Here's why:

1) Bush is leaving office in 2008 regardless of what happens with this bill. His approval ratings are horrid, and there's very little he can do to make himself more odious, no matter what he does with this bill. There a presidential election on--and the GOP owns this war lock, stock and barrel. Furthermore, the Democratic and Republican nominees will be busy sniping at each other in 2008--not at Bush.

2) The Dem house has generated the headlines it needs to. While many of us feel the bill didn't go nearly far enough, to the average person not paying too much attention the news, it looks like Dems are standing very tough against Bush. This is a good thing.

3) The Senate GOP is extremely vulnerable in 2008--and unlike Bush, has to stand for re-election. They have a lot to lose--to the tune of 5 or 6 Democratic pickups or more. Senators are seen as national politicians, and the Occupation of Iraq is by far the biggest national issue.

If and when the Senate stands in the way of holding Bush accountable and setting timetables to end the war, it will not be Bush who stands in the crosshairs of the public's anger; it will be the Republicans in the Senate.

And the mantra, should the bill fail in the Senate, will be clear: as long as a Republican is president, the ONLY way to end the Occupation of Iraq is by getting rid of Senate Republicans. The election for President will stand and fall on its own merits, and that of the candidates (though any current Senators will be held to account for their own votes, of course). It is the Republican Senators, however, whose fate will be most impacted by this battle.

And here's a guarantee: if the vulnerable GOP Senators stand up for Bush and against the American people on this issue, they will be ousted in 2008 with near certainty. And that--if nothing else--is the most tangible accomplishment of today's victory in the House.

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2 Comments:

Blogger John from Queens NY said...

Big f-ing political deal--they are all the same, marching us down the primrose privatization path: Look, 120,000 taxpayer-paid Blackwater militiamen are in Iraq, vying for $$$ with 140,000 US military troop forces. Who's fooling whom?

3:46 PM  
Blogger thereisnospoon said...

who is all the same?

6:16 PM  

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