GOP Gets Desperate, Hits Harry Reid Over Debating Iraq
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Jul 24, 2007 at 02:15:22 PM EDT
Their image in tatters as a result of the failed Bush presidency, the culture of corruption that had permeated Washington under their watch and the devolving war in Iraq, Republicans have decided that its right time to lash out at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rather than take the steps that are clearly needed to right their own course by reforming their beliefs and actions.
There are many things just plain wrong with the Republicans' attack (Markos does a good job of rebutting a number of the more inane misrepresentations), but the thing that seems to stand out to me is the Republican complaint that the Democrats are spending too much time talking about Iraq.
Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, is meeting with members yesterday and today to disseminate a message critical of Democrats for endlessly debating the Iraq war, stalling judicial nominations and squandering time on at least 300 investigations of the Bush administration.
"We really ought to be asking why this Democrat leadership won't allow Congress to move forward on serious policy debates," Mr. Kyl said, when asked about the talking-points memorandum he is circulating.
This is truly remarkable reasoning. Even though it is the Republicans who are filibustering virtually any attempt to pass legislation that would change the course in Iraq -- and indeed filibustering more than any other minority caucus in history, according to a recent study by McClatchy -- it is the Democrats fault that the business of the Senate is slowing down. Hmm. Doesn't track too well, does it?
But it's not even clear that it is the case that the Senate is moving excessively slowly. Certainly there is an argument to be made that the Democratic Congress has been unable to pass into law many tenets of its 2006 platform. I don't think anyone would argue that that's not the case. But the reason why much of this wildly popular platform has not been enacted into law is not because of a slowdown by Democrats but rather because of either the President's stubbornness (either vetoing or pledging to veto legislation ranging from stem cells to student loans to Iraq to children's healthcare to... the list goes on) or obstructionism by GOP Senators (see the aforementioned study showing that Republicans in the Senate are on pace to shatter all previous records for filibustering).
And getting back to the original charge, inherent in the Republicans' attack is that there is nothing to gain from the Senate holding extended debates over Iraq. Aside from the fact that the American public has made clear that they want Congress working on the issue of Iraq, if not to the detriment of spending time on other issues then certainly as a higher priority than other issues, it would be difficult to argue that nothing has been achieved by holding these debates. A year ago, there was not a single Republican Senator supporting a timeline for the withdrawal of American, but by the spring there were two. During the most recent vote, there were four Republican Senators voting for cloture on a bill that would bring an end to the Iraq War. Even though one of them (Susan Collins) does not currently support a timeline for redeployment, one more Republican Senator was added to the list finally demanding real change in Iraq. At this point, the Democrats might not get to the 67 votes in the Senate necessary to override a Presidential veto -- but they might be able to get to the point where they can overcome a Republican filibuster. So much for not achieving anything with these debates.
Republicans can certainly lash out at the Democrats in desperation. But that's exactly what this is: desperation, nothing else.