A Test of Leadership

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.

Tags: Election 2008 (all tags)

Comments

59 Comments

Re: A Test of Leadership

Dodd seems to be running a very tight message campaign, with precisely written and framed statements.

by david mizner 2007-09-13 05:50AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Senator Dodd is focused on the leadership challenge NOW. In the Congress. On Iraq.

His message is if we want to lead as President we should lead as legislators.

It is certainly my litmus test.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 05:54AM | 0 recs
His Criticism of Late

Has been more directed at his Political Opponents.  There have been some contentious Entries about this on other Blogs, that being DailyKos.com.

Apparently, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are no longer the Democratic Party Congressional Leaders.

Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama are.

I don't know what to make of this.  I know they all want the same thing at this point, and I know people are free to look at what everyone says and decide for themselves what best resonates for them personally.

Dodd was very well-spoken in the Clip Provided above.  I think I'll make him my second choice.

by Edgar08 2007-09-13 06:09AM | 0 recs
It is urging

that they lead now, in part, to prove they should lead later.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 06:19AM | 0 recs
That's a Neat Frame

But I don't buy it.

Like I said, he was very well spoken, but besides taking shots at Clinton and Obama what is Dodd doing to convince the Congress People who "capitulated" the last go around to not do so this time?

Leadership is not telling people what to do and impugning motives.  That's Punditry.

by Edgar08 2007-09-13 06:41AM | 0 recs
Re: That's a Neat Frame

Um, what is leadership in your mind? Please tell me what you are looking for?

And to call it a frame is silly.

It IS. It is no frame.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 06:44AM | 0 recs
I Knew it Smelled Funny

Leadership to me is telling KO that he's wrong about Democrats when he frets about some Democrats wanting to play it out into a 2008 Election Year issue, basically trading off the lives of troops for Political Gain.

He was very well spoken, I almost missed that.

Point:  At least 5 of the so called "Capitulators" won't even be up for re-election until 2012 so there goes that argument right out the window.

Sorry.  Just gets my dander up.

You ask me what leadership is?  Then I get to answer.  Leadership, within the context of that question, is telling Olberman he is wrong and offensive to ask that question.

Leadership would be to say something like this:

"You are wrong Keith.  I have disagreements with other Democrats, and I want to bring them over to my point of view.  I do think they are wrong sometimes.  But you are wrong there Keith to say that those Democrats I disagree with are doing so in such a way to put troops in harms way and trade off that for Political Gain.  There are a lot of Democrats who I think believe Bipartisanship is the way to go here.  I think they are wrong."

Now that is Leadership.

After viewing the Clip a second time, I'm a lot less impressed than I was the first time.

by Edgar08 2007-09-13 07:11AM | 0 recs
Leadership is

that? On the Iraq issue?

Surely you jest.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 07:13AM | 0 recs
You Asked

I answered.

Dodd isn't in the Gravel ballpark.  Yet.

He didn't actually agree with Olberman, I'll give him that.

by Edgar08 2007-09-13 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: You Asked

Excuse me, just to be clear, for you the sum total of leadership ON IRAQ is to challenge a statement about Democrats by Keith Olbermann.

I asked. And that was your answer.

That is your position?

You have a low bar imo.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 07:31AM | 0 recs
That's Part of It

Yes.

by Edgar08 2007-09-13 07:33AM | 0 recs
What's the rest of it?

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 07:49AM | 0 recs
Re: What's the rest of it?

The legislation proposed by Dodd is a good example.

by Edgar08 2007-09-13 08:04AM | 0 recs
Re: You Asked

Are you a front pager here now?

Just how many front pagers does MyDD have?  I've lost count.  There should be a list or something.

by pontificator 2007-09-13 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: You Asked

No. I do a Thursday candidates post for Dodd.

That's it.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 07:48AM | 0 recs
He's become my second choice

Because of his position on the war and the Constitution.

He was totally off my radar until recently.

by Coral 2007-09-13 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Dodd won me over.

I officially decided against Obama with his neo-con light foreign policy speeches lately.

After the YouTube debate, when Obama said he would meet with hostile foreign leaders without precondition, I was ready to jump on board.  Seemed like a drastic change to a broken foreign policy, but then old Barack said he would unilaterally invade Pakistan, risking undermining the stability of government there, and he made some other baaaaaaaaaaaaaaad foreign policy speeches.

He lost me, to Dodd's gain.  I had to jump into Dodd's corner, from his New Orleans bill, to his passionate speeches on the Constitution, he won me over.  And, unlike Obama and Clinton, he's trying to do something about it NOW.

by JJCPA 2007-09-13 06:10AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

I should add, I'm leaning Dodd.

Nothing's set in stone.  

by JJCPA 2007-09-13 06:12AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Welcome to our select club of discerning voters . . .

We hope to expand our membership greatly.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 06:20AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Its a weird place to be, since I seem to recall taking shots at you over Obama.

Or at least going "what the fuck's his problem?!?"

by JJCPA 2007-09-13 08:33AM | 0 recs
Add a link to buy Dodd 2 minutes

TV time after the President speaks tonight.

by oculus 2007-09-13 09:16AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Could some very patient person explain to me exactly how setting a time certain for defunding will necessarily lead to withdrawal?

Because I don't see the causal relationship there, given Bush.

Which isn't to say that I don't support Dodd on this: I do, for both political and moral reasons. I simply don't understand why he seems to think  this will 'end the war.'

by BingoL 2007-09-13 06:16AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Could yopu explain to me how you see the war continuing without funding?

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 06:21AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Well, say Congress sets Day X as the last moment of funding. That they can--and should--do.

So Day X approaches, and the occupation of Iraq continues. Because Bush is the Commander Guy, he's the Decider, and he refused to allow redeployment.

Finally Day X arrives, and the troops are still in Iraq.

I don't know how many fungible billions are washing around the Pentagon, or if the tin-foil sounding talk about the Food and Forage Act really means Bush can raise money without Congress--and I don't know how the domestic politics of this would play out, though somehow I imagine much of the media would arrive at a 'Pox On Both Houses' narrative ... but none of that really talks to my question. Which is this: funding or not, isn't Bush the only person who can take the actual action of ordering the troops out of Iraq?

by BingoL 2007-09-13 06:27AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

HE can not spend a dime in Iraq without Congress approving it.

Look, even Bush has said so.

I do not have the time right now to go all over the reasonw hy your concerns are unfounded.

But the question remains, without Congressionally mandated funds for use FOR THE WAR in Iraq, how can Bush do it?

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 06:30AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Well, maybe I'll catch you when you have time--or someone else can explain--but that's the part that baffles me. The idea that not having funds for the war on Day X means the troops will be withdrawn by that date.

Bush can simply leave the troops there as the deadline  passes. He's the executive. He's the decider. Frankly, I think he'd -relish- this sort of confrontation, this battle of wills. He almost always acts like a dangerously spoiled child, why wouldn't he, this time?

Yes, he can't spend a dime. But no, that doesn't mean he'll withdraw the troops.

(And it's a different point, what happens as Day X approaches, but I imagine Bush will play chicken with the troops' lives, and because he cares less about them than the Dems, he'll win, at least in the basest way possible. I still think Dodd's absolutely right about doing this--I just don't see how it leads to withdrawal.)

by BingoL 2007-09-13 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Leave them in their barracks you mean.

And not spend money mandated for withdrawal?

He could I suppose.

But he can not use them to prosecute the IRaq War.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Yes, exactly. So the occupation would continue, and the troops remain.

That's not 'withdrawing the troops' and I'm not sure it's 'ending the war', either. But I'm pretty confident Bush would rather keep 140,000 troops in barracks in Iraq while raging against the Defeatocrats than bring them home.

And good job with the Dodd advocacy. I think I have to get the 'electibility' crap out of my head and do the research and support him.

by BingoL 2007-09-13 06:56AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

If they are sitting in their barracks, they are not being shot at and let Bush rail.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 06:59AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

I think Dodd's great.  

I'm an Edwards supporter, but I've always like Dodd.

by DrFrankLives 2007-09-13 06:22AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Well, the chances of pulling you over I know to be zero but thanks for recognizing Dodd is worthy of respect.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 06:31AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

I wonder what the chances of an Edwards/Dodd agreement are in Iowa this year, a la edwards Kucinich in '04?

by Rooktoven 2007-09-13 07:42AM | 0 recs
Hard to continue to respect

Kucinich after he did that.  He sounds good though.

by oculus 2007-09-13 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

I too am an Edwards supporter. However, Dodd, has firmly taken my 2nd choice position. I am also a fan Robert Jackson (notwithstanding his last law clerk) so learning about Thomas Dodd's role at Nuremburg is a plus.

"Restoring the Constitution" is in IMO a great slogan.

by molly bloom 2007-09-13 07:58AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Thank you for posting this. I have long admired Chris Dodd. What this interview makes abundantly clear is that his positions on the rule of law are not campaign rhetoric but rather moral lessons he learned from his father. He is an authentic American and although he will not be our nominee he deserves to play an important role in the next Democratic Administration. And even if he remains in the Senate, our country will only be enhanced by his moral fiber, leadership and passion for justice.

by DoIT 2007-09-13 07:55AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Look what I want to hear from Dodd, is what what his senate colleagues say when he tells them these things. How do they defend their craven fear of the Republicans?

by MNPundit 2007-09-13 08:08AM | 0 recs
Not sure I agree

Just on the sheer logistics of it, Dodd has to know that legislation with a date certain to end funding will never get a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.  It will never get to a vote.  It won't.  You need sixty votes to end debate, because it's going to be filibustered, and you're not going to get them --- unless you first pass a bunch of half-measures that steadily build momentum, or you find some way of making Republicans feel comfortable getting on board --- which you don't do by mixing up the debate up with Democratic primary politics.

As far as I'm concerned, the real leadership on this issue is being shown by Harry Reid on this issue, trying to negotiate behind closed doors to come up with some sort of compromise.

And I know Reid hasn't exactly given us a lot of confidence that he'll drive a hard bargain.  But John Warner is now resigning, might he be more open, on his way out, to supporting something more forceful?  It's starting to look like a Democratic wave in the Senate elections in '08 --- might Coleman or Collins start to crack?

by psericks 2007-09-13 08:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Not sure I agree

It seems you do not agree in fact.

You support Reid's efforts as described in the Post.

I have nothing but contempt for such efforts as they are, imo, stupid on policy and politics.  

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 09:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Not sure I agree

What is the point of getting 47, 48, or 49 votes for a tough measure?  We probably won't even get a vote on the measure, so no one even goes on the record for holding the position.

What is the point?  I just think it's worthwhile for Democrats to create some movement on Iraq war policy.  Everything else is just showmanship.  

We can either "speak with clarity" and lose and let the war go on for two more years, or we can try to figure out some way of getting John Warner's vote.

We need some Republican votes.  Explain to me how we get a few, and we'll have something.  Working behind closed doors is at least something.

by psericks 2007-09-13 09:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Not sure I agree

I am not going through this with you again.

You know my proposal so please do not act ignorant of it.

Defend Obama as best you can, but do not waste my time going over old ground.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 09:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Not sure I agree

This, for example, sounds like something they might be able to get 60 votes on:

One of the first will be a revised version of legislation that would ensure that troops returning from Iraq are granted a home leave at least as long as their last deployment before returning to the battlefield, said Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), the amendment's author.

The amendment garnered 56 votes in July, and with Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) back on the job after suffering a brain hemorrhage, the measure should be within three votes of victory. Webb said yesterday that he was in talks with at least two more Republicans, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and George V. Voinovich (Ohio).


And it would effectively decrease the number of troops.

by psericks 2007-09-13 09:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Not sure I agree

This one wouldn't be so bad either.  It would be a start:

And an amendment by Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to mandate a change of strategy in Iraq is gaining currency with Democratic leaders, according to leadership aides. The amendment would order missions to shift immediately from combat to counterterrorism, border security and the training of Iraqi security forces. It would not mandate troop withdrawals, but Collins said such withdrawals would be inevitable, because the remaining missions could be accomplished with 50,000 to 60,000 troops.
These are the kind of halfway measures that would at least mean an actual shift away from 130,000 troops come July.

by psericks 2007-09-13 09:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Not sure I agree

And bush vetoes it. Or ignores it. And then what?

Every one of your half measures are simply silly political ass covering that gets REPUBLICANS off the hook.

I really will not discuss this with you anymore.

I do see why you support Obama though.

HE is providing what you are looking for here.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Not sure I agree

Assuming you are correct, THEN Bush vetoes it.

Then what?

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Not sure I agree
I frankly think Bush would have a tough time vetoing the Webb amendment if it passed with a solid sixty votes in the Senate and a large majority in the House.
I posted another diary so as not to hijack yours.  The LA Times quotes military sources who claim that with 15-month deployments they can continue pre-surge levels of 130,000 forever.
You can yell at me all you want to, but at least the Webb amendment seems like a good faith effort to curtail troop levels sooner rather than later.
by psericks 2007-09-13 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Not sure I agree

I am not against the Webb Amendment.

I am against funding bill with no timelines.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Not sure I agree

Doesn't the Webb amendment only make sense if attached to a funding bill with no timelines?  It's an alternative to a timelines bill.  You can't be for both.  (Obama, Clinton, and others with probably vote for the amendment, but then vote down the main bill --- but that still means the Democratic leadership will have allowed a vote on a bill without timelines.)

If there are already timelines, there's no point to the Webb amendment.  The idea is that if you can't get timelines, if you don't have the votes --- then the very least you can get is some sort of mandatory cap on the number of troops Bush can put in the field, by mandating a certain amount of rest and a maximum length of deployment.

by psericks 2007-09-14 10:03PM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Good for Dood.  Hey, did he address the real world of the Senate or simply ignore its parliamentary rules?  If Dodd is the 2nd coming, kindly direct me to his Iraq plan that has a chance of gaining 67 votes.

by realistic democrat 2007-09-13 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Interestingly, NOT funding requires emrely 41 willing to filibuster in the Senate. Or if you prefer, 51 willing to stand up and NOT vote for funding.

Are YOU familiar with the parliamentary rules? I think not.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

What's with the rating?

You like to dish it out but can't take it?

Whiny Dem is what you seem to be to me.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 09:56AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

And how many votes are needed to overturn a veto?

by realistic democrat 2007-09-13 09:16AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

No veto if no bill is passed.

Or better yet, pass a bill, then let Bush veto it, and then pass that bill again.

Are you familiar with Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution?

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 09:17AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Very familiar.  The point is Dodd's complaints may be valid on principle yet aren't remotely poltiicaly feasible.  Any reform measure requires enough votes to override a Bush veto.

That is the basic fact of the Iraq War debate.  Dodd, Edwards, et. al can holler all they want- it won't change the reality in the Senate.  

by realistic democrat 2007-09-13 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

See, this is juist bullshit frankly.

You start out talking "parliamentary measures" and then fall backl to what your real position is - the Dems will not do it.

Repeat your point of view please - The DEMS won't do it.

Your argument boils down to that.

There is no argument on the merits, just you saying they will not do it.

And that may be so. But they SHOULD do it. And Dodd is leading on the issue of what they SHOULD do. NOW. on IRAQ.

Neither Clinton or Obama are.

And maybe if they would, the DEMS MIGHT do it.

Sort of the point.

Have you gotten it yet?  

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 09:55AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

Good God!  My argument starts and ends with parliamentary procedure.  Bush will veto any bill that doesn't follow the Petraeus line.  I'll ask again- what bill has Sen. Dodd proposed that will pass the 60 and 67 vote hurdle?  

You state Dodd is leading- when did this start?  Care to list his policy proposals, proposals he has authored or co-authored on the Senate floor?

by realistic democrat 2007-09-13 10:54AM | 0 recs
My gawd

NOT funding requires the passage of no bill.

Are you really not understanding this yet?

Done.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-09-13 12:23PM | 0 recs
You are a twit

Do you have any sense of politics?  Any connection to the real world?

The politics of the matter requires the passage of legislation.  It's that simple.

Good job ducking my question on Dodd's leadership in the Iraq debate.  His leadership consists of hollow talking points and you're foolish enough to swallow them whole.

by realistic democrat 2007-09-13 03:42PM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

I'm very impressed by Senator Dodd. Unfortunately, it seems that he has simply picked the wrong election cycle to run in. Had he run against Kerry in '04 I think we could have seen a very different outcome, both in regards to our nominee and the general election. He's eloquent, personable and while he is a "New England liberal" he is also a consumate politician that is able to put a human, and likeable face, on contemporary liberalism. If Hillary wasn't in this race I'm about 90 percent certain I would be supporting Dodd, especially against the increasingly craven John Edwards, the inexperienced Obama and the hapless Bill Richardson.

by wjpugliese 2007-09-13 10:36AM | 0 recs
Re: A Test of Leadership

I like Dodd, he's my second choice now, and I would be very comfortable with him as president.  But if he is serious, will he filibuster the funding bill?  

by bookgrl 2007-09-13 10:38AM | 0 recs

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