Location: United States

Sunday, November 20, 2005

HR 571 and a Marginal Rat

I teach my students that there are two ways for a political party to deal with an ideological threat. One is to co-opt their ideas and claim them as your own. The other is to make them seem so far out of the mainstream that only a total nutcase would support them - a process called marginalization. Later in this post, I'll explain why it's important to know that.

As near as I can tell, this is the actual word-for-word text of Rep. John Murtha's proposal on withdrawing from Iraq:

Whereas Congress and the American People have not been shown clear, measurable progress toward establishment of stable and improving security in Iraq or of a stable and improving economy in Iraq, both of which are essential to "promote the emergence of a democratic government";

Whereas additional stabilization in Iraq by U, S. military forces cannot be achieved without the deployment of hundreds of thousands of additional U S. troops, which in turn cannot be achieved without a military draft;

Whereas more than $277 billion has been appropriated by the United States Congress to prosecute U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas, as of the drafting of this resolution, 2,079 U.S. troops have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom;

Whereas U.S. forces have become the target of the insurgency,

Whereas, according to recent polls, over 80% of the Iraqi people want U.S. forces out of Iraq;

Whereas polls also indicate that 45% of the Iraqi people feel that the attacks on U.S. forces are justified;

Whereas, due to the foregoing, Congress finds it evident that continuing U.S. military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the people of Iraq, or the Persian Gulf Region, which were cited in Public Law 107-243 as justification for undertaking such action;

Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That:

Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.

Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines shall be deployed in the region.

Section 3 The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.

If this is not the actual wording, please email me with complete information.

Here is the text of House Resolution 571:

Resolved, That upon the adoption of this resolution it shall be in order without intervention of any point of order to consider in the House the resolution (H. Res. 571) expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately. The resolution shall be considered as read.

Now, they are not exactly the same, but they are close enough that Dems are going to hear about this for the next hundred years.

Here's the thing: Republicans have been saying for years that Democrats really don't stand for anything. They are just obstructionist. They just want to stop the President and Congressional majority from doing anything.

You say you want us to get out of Iraq? Here's a bill. Vote your conscience.

Three Democrats voted for the resolution. Three! Those three principled Democrats can now be characterized as total nutjobs. And by extension, every single person who calls for withdrawal will be, too. They have been marginalized by their own party.

I've heard a few Democrats defending this by saying that the actual resolution they voted on did not specify that the redeployment would be done safely. This is the Congressional equivalent of debating the meaning of "is". Hey, no one said we'd throw down our weapons and run. It said that we'd get out now. Anyone with three brain cells to spare can see that doesn't mean this instant - when was the last time Congress passed something that demanded instantaneous approval?

Anyone who follows politics should have known that the measure wasn't going to pass. Republicans simply would not have introduced it if it stood a rat's chance at a cat ranch in passing. Even if it did, it's a HOUSE RESOLUTION. It's basically toothless. The House passes Resolutions just to take a vote on whether it wants to take a vote on something. Hello, Democratic Representatives! A House Resolution has absolutely no power beyond the House of Representatives! Even the Senate can totally ignored them (and they generally do).

For anything to actually happen, the House would have to approve a measure (remember "I'm Just a Bill"?), get the Senate to approve it, get a conference committee to agree on differences, and send it to the President for his action. Would President Bush sign this? See the above-mentioned rat for the likelihood of this happening.

The House has absolutely no control over military deployments. The Constitution gives that power to the President. It's why he's called the "Commander in Chief". The only power the House has is to adjust military budgets during the annual budget process. Even if the House zero-budgeted the occupation of Iraq, it would still have to go through the above-mentioned process. It is inconceivable that the Senate would not re-instate it in the conference committee.

So, you have the option to vote for a badly worded resolution that is basically meaningless, but has no chance of ever becoming any form that could have meaning. What do you do? Of course, you vote against it and expose yourself as totally lacking any principle.

This is the leadership that is supposed to take back the House?

I'm thinking that rat might have better leadership skills.


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