A Test of Leadership
by Big Tent Democrat, Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 05:45:52 AM EDT
This is a post on behalf of the Presidential candidacy of Senator Chris Dodd. I am not connected to the campaign.
The Washington Post reports:
Democratic leaders in Congress have decided to shift course and pursue modest bipartisan measures to alter U.S. military strategy in Iraq, hoping to use incremental changes instead of aggressive legislation to break the grip Republicans have held over the direction of war policy.
. . . "We're reaching out to the Republicans to allow them to fulfill their word," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) said yesterday. "A number of them are quoted significantly saying that come September that there would have to be a change of the course in the war in Iraq."
Let me be blunt, the Democratic leadership is either being extremely foolish or extremely cynical. They should know that accomodating Senate Republicans will do nothing to change course in Iraq, much less end the Iraq Debacle. If they do not they are being foolish. If they do, then they are being cynical. And foolishly cynical as no political or policy aim can be met by accommodating Senate Republicans.
Democratic Presidential candidates who are in the Congress have, not only an opportunity, but a duty to lead the Democrats in Congress away from this disastrous course and to an approach that can end the Iraq Debacle and make clear which political party wants to end the Debacle and which one wants to continue it.
In an interview last night with Keith Olbermann, Senator Chris Dodd eloquently explained what the stakes are in this Congressional Iraq Debate:
I urge you to watch this segment as Dodd demonstrates the qualities that will make him a great Democratic President, with a deep understanding of the true source of America's greatness - our values. Of special note is Dodd's discussion of his new book, Letters From Nuremberg, a collection of letters from his father, Senator Thomas Dodd, who worked with Justice Robert Jackson at the Nuremberg trials, which he describes as "epistles to this generation."
Senator Dodd is providing leadership now on Iraq in the Senate. In his remarkably good speech yesterday, Senator Barack Obama said:
You know, I welcome all of the folks who have changed their position on the war over these last months and years. And we need more of those votes to change if we're going to change the direction of this war. That is why I will keep speaking directly to my colleagues in the Congress, both Republican and Democratic. Historically, we have come together in a bipartisan way to deal with our most monumental challenges. We should do so again. We have the power to do this - not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans. We don't have to wait until George Bush is gone from office - we can begin to end this war today, right now.
Senator Dodd's challenge to his colleagues to not support any legislation that does not have an enforceable date certain for ending the Debacle is on point:
And Senator Dodd is right when he says:
I was disappointed that Senator Obama's thoughts on Iraq today didn't include a firm, enforceable deadline for redeployment, and dismayed that neither he nor Senator Clinton will give an unequivocal answer on whether they would support a measure if it didn't have such an enforceable deadline.
"It is clear to me - especially after yesterday's testimony - that half-measures aren't going to stop this President or end our involvement in this civil war. I thought it was clear to Senators Obama and Clinton as well after they finally came around to supporting the Feingold-Reid measure and voting against a blank-check supplemental spending bill this spring. If 'enough was enough' then, why isn't it after the bloodiest summer of the war?
"Senator Obama has a gift for soaring rhetoric, but, on this critical issue, we need to know the substance of his position with specificity. Without tying a date certain to funding how does he plan to enforce his call for an immediate redeployment?
"The only specificity Senator Obama offered was a call for a new constitution, but that will do nothing other than provide the Iraqis and the Bush Administration another excuse to delay -- the ink is barely dry on the constitution they have.
"It is going to take bold leadership to change our course in Iraq. We need to do more than write letters to the President, we need to be clear with him.
"I urge Senators Obama and Clinton not to backtrack on the need for a firm, enforceable deadline and state clearly and directly whether they will support an Iraq measure if it does not include one."
It is a question of leadership. Now. On Iraq.