Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, unable to reach 60 votes to stop a Republican filibuster of a Democratic plan for Iraq withdrawal, pulled all competing proposals off of the legislative agenda, more than likely ensuring that no change in policy will occur before Labor Day. Reid’s actions drew praise from the anti-war movement, who have felt that anything other than a strict withdrawal timetable would be unacceptable. I have highlighted the four competing proposals in a prior post (link). In a Washington Post article Reid drew praise from the left.
Reid’s move was hailed by antiwar groups, which have urged Democrats not to compromise. But his decision may also have the effect of providing Bush with an opportunity that he has wanted: 60 more days to make his case that the war is making progress.
Reid’s hardball tactics include a demand that Republican’s stop using the filibuster and agree to an up or down vote, and that the vote be on the Levin-Reed proposal, which call for withdrawal in 120 days.
After the results were tallied, Reid asked GOP leaders to accept simple-majority votes. When they refused, Reid announced that the debate would be suspended, possibly until after Labor Day or until Republicans dropped their filibuster. He called the 60-vote requirement “a new math that was developed by the Republicans to protect the president.”
Reid’s tactics drew Republican criticism, especially in light of the fact that alternative proposals had a chance to get to the sixty vote mark.
Alexander went further in his criticism, warning that the theatrics of the all-night debate had discouraged GOP senators who oppose the current Iraq strategy from joining Democrats on alternatives. The result, he said, is a solid majority of the Senate opposed to Bush’s handling of the war but unable to reach a compromise.
“Harry Reid needs to play less politics, and the president needs to be more flexible,” Alexander said.
So for today Harry Reid cannot “count to sixty” and legislative gridlock continues. But Reid can now point to Republican support of the President in a political context, and has refused to allow them to vote for a watered down war resolution that might give some of them a political escape hatch. Harry Reid, despite the failure to count to sixty, has his political arm strongly around the Republican windpipe and apparently will not easily let it go. The prospects for Northern Republicans just got bleaker.
Read the Washington Post article at this link.
I am glad the Harry Reid’s plan did not work.
The sky in your world is a different color than mine.
I do not want congress to control the conduct of the war. That is the constitutional business of the administration, no matter which party he/she blongs to.
If the democratic party feels the Iraqi war is wrong it should just end funding, period. That’s their job.
But, your honor, the democratic party is, instead, conducting the 2008 election program. That is horrible.
This war is against world wide terror. For the democrats to provide encouragement to our enemies (they are looking for the republican’s defeat and, consequently, American retreat (again).
Now they are free to deal with us at their leisure.
I wrote how I feel in discussions with Jim and Derek under the Libby issue (I think).
You think Reid is a hero, I think he is appeaser to our enemy. ( I do not charge him as a traitor, just an appeaser.)
Someone in the democratic party better figure out what they are going to do next if they succeed. They don’t have a clue.
Do you know?
My mantra: WE ARE IN A WORLD WAR THAT WILL LAST FOR YEARS, MAYBE DECADES.
The discussion with Jim and Derek is in the “can you count to sixty”, issue. Sorry.
At the risk of jumping in where I am not well-versed…
Here’s how I see this… there were other options. Reid chose to NOT compromise, it backfired in his face, and now they’re trying to say it’s all the Republican’s fault???? Isn’t compromise part of the political game and how we ultimately land somewhere that pleases the majority??? Maybe I need to go back to my textbooks & look up “democracy” again.
According to the constitution, in order for us to go to war (Afghanistan and Iraq), the president must get a declaration of war from Congress, something he didn’t get but instead got a bogus congressional resolution. In my opinion, both congress and the president are in violation of the document they swore to uphold on this; but then again, most of them violate it on plenty of other issues every day anyways, so why should this be any different?
Now before I get the “World War on Terror” response, I state that attacking terrorists and ousting governments that sponsor them are two different items, especially when we have permission to use force in allied countries. An example of this was the Predator attack in Yemen which killed 6 Al-qaeda leaders; the constitution left the issue of fights against non-government entities open. An earlier example would be the US attack on piracy in North Africa in the early 19th century; congress approved an act that was not a declaration of war but allowed for president Thomas Jefferson to use the military to protect US interests, and I’m going to assume one of the founders of the Constitution knew what he was doing. I believe this act and later ones validate the Predator attack and future attacks on terrorists since they are essentially criminals. My problem is the ousting of a declared government recognized by most countries such as Iraq. Afghanistan might have been workable since most governments including the US didn’t recognize the Taliban as being in charge, but the president could have easily gotten a declaration of war at that point, so why didn’t he?
I do agree with Jules’ statement of Reid and the Dems playing politics for votes, and it would be the same of the two parties if their situations were reversed; if Al Gore was our president and had attacked Iraq (I know that’s a doubtful scenario) the Republicans would be playing the same cards for this election. There is too much unconditional support of a party’s president and not enough being a check and balance of the office as they were supposed to do. Our current politicians and their bipartisan ways are ruining this great country.
However, the Democrats just “ending funding” is political suicide, even if it is their job because the Republicans would play the “not supporting our soldiers” card which strikes a heavy chord in our people’s hearts. Again, this would be the case if the parties’ situations were reversed.
Yes compromise is a definite part of government, and as a local mayor is fond of saying government works best when it works together. There are other factors at work here though teach. Reid, and the people he represents, believe that the war was a tragic mistake and needs to end now. He also believes that good intentions nothwithstanding, the other proposals do not address the real issues, but allow Senators to cast votes that may be used politically to distance themselves from the President’s unpopular war but have no real impact on ending the war. (The political illusion). On that basis his policy goals and his political goals intersect, creating a perfect storm for Republicans. Reid wants to end the war, and he wants to broaden his majority. If Republicans insist on sticking with the President’s policy he is simply insuring that they do so visibly, and not in the shadows. He is confident enough to put his policy prescription to the voters, and he wants the same for the Republicans. Hence, my description of the Majority Leader with his hand firmly upon the windpipe of the Republican Party. They will not be allowed to escape through the back door, and will be forced to stand with this policy or repudiate this policy. A prescription for a total wipeout of the few remaining northern Republicans, and a real problem for all the others. (See John McCain).
TeacherLady and Derek,
I hope your are both doing well.
Politics is defined as the art of compromise.
However, what happens when the issue is war or no war.
What does a war/no war compromise look like?
I think we are begining to see this thing clearly. Let take your issues by the numbers.
1. A declaration of war has not been declared since the Korean war…er police action. Vietnam, Panama, Samolia, are examples of declarationless war. I don’t remember if the first Iraqi war was declared or not. In all these cases resolutions substituted for declarations. These were bipartisan events with the typical sniping and politicking as we are now doing.
Just remember if an action is considered “unconstitutional” it must be brought to court. If there is no challenge then there is no constitutional issue. You can park your car under a “no parking” sign, but if you don’t ticket the cars are not functionally illegal.
Your argument is thoughtful, but politics is trumping constitutionality.
2. The justification for the invasion of Iraq was based on a congressional resolution vote and Iraqi violation of UN conditions related to the ending of the first Iraqi war.Let’s not et into the WMD thing.
The resolution was the one senator Clinton and our senator Kerry claimed they voted for, but only as a means to support negotiations, not to justify actual military action. This caveat came as support for the war slipped. Finger in the air courage.
So our invasion, which you feel was not justified, I feel is a proper strategic move.
Interestingly, as you point out, Jefferson had the same problem confronting the Barbary Pirates (millions for defense but not a penny for tribute). He suffered the same problems back home as George Bush.
Now I don’t want to bring up the “WWOT” so I will end this part of the discussion.
3.Derek, I am quite mad at my Party. The are comprised of generally stupid encourages people. They lost the congress and have created a condition where they will suffer even more losses plus the presidency in the 2008 election. Where courage was required they abandoned the president as the public support fell (the finger in the air syndrome). Keep in mind they voted in favor of the war resolution and then turned on him while our soldiers wer fighting our enemies. They did so as to be electable. At least they hung together during Reid’s all nighter.
In general a president’s party is supportive, but not always. Clinton had trouble with his democratic majority. Bush lost his illegal immigration Amnesty bill when the republican and conservatives citizenry ganged up on the Republican legislators. I won’t take argument as to how the Republicans would have treated Al Gore. Some of us feel there would have been no war and 3,000 murdered Americans would have no justice. But, if there was a war, the Republicans may have pulled the same political tricks .
So, Derek, if defunding and impeachment are not politically possible, what does that mean?
I will tell you the president will continue with this thing because he thinks it’s the right thing to do.
Maybe we have to wait for the next president to take office.
Questions; What is your opinion on Iran?
Have a nice weekend evrybody.
I think Harry Reid encourages our enemies through his pronouncements. My Republicans should have stood by the president as they voted for the resolution. They have become so waffly they may lose even more seats. Maybe even providing the democrats with the 60 votes they need to push through any legislation they want.
If the Dems get their way and pull out, the terrorists will remind Harry who they are and what they are about to our discomfort.
I hang with the president.
Anyway have a good weekend.
Jules (And everyone else who reads this, start commenting in! It’s just good political discussion!)
I brought up the constitution and the military acts because you mentioned it was the president’s constitutional duty to control the military; I submitted a counter to point out that pretty much everyone in office currently has no idea what the constitution says. I’m willing to bet that most of them couldn’t even name 5 of the Bill of the Rights, much less all 10. So you are right on the money with your “but politics is trumping constitutionality” comment.
As for Iran, we are directly responsible for the current mess:
1) Took part in an oil embargo against Iran because they wanted their oil for their own instead of Britain reaping all the profits.
2) Then we knocked over their elected prime minister and put the Shah back in power, setting the stage for for the Iranian Revolution and the coming to power of the Ayatollahs and their extremist views.
That being said, it does not give them a green light for supporting terrorist attacks and saying insane things like the Holocaust never happened. But none of our embargoes or threats have worked, so I believe a carrots and sticks program might be a better alternative with them, especially with their current economic problems. Attacking Iran would be a grave mistake unless we have some hard evidence they are involved in Al-qaeda operations.
North Korea on the other hand, is the country we should have invaded. They have repeatedly violated numerous treaties we have signed with them, created counterfeit American cash to undermine our economy, and continually threaten our allies in that region with nuclear attacks. Hell, we could have surprise attacked them and it would have been justifiable since legally South Korea and North Korea are still technically at war.
As for defunding and impeachment not working, a good alternative would be to see someone in Washington come up with an actually working long-term plan. You are correct in that if we pull our troops out next year due to sinking poll ratings, we are handing the terrorists a victory and the Iraqi people a mess. But nobody seems willing to stand up with a definitive plan with a date some 3 or 5 years in the future that we might leave, which wouldn’t give the terrorists the victory they are looking for. Instead we see politicking for votes. Then again, looking at our history, the more things change…
The constitution assigns the job of commander and chief to the president. The congress has several powers, mostly to fund the services. Read below.
War Powers of President
The Constitution divides war powers between the Congress and the President. This division was intended by the framers to ensure that wars would not be entered into easily: it takes two keys, not one, to start the engine of war.
The Constitution’s division of powers leaves the President with some exclusive powers as Commander-in-Chief (such as decisions on the field of battle), Congress with certain other exclusive powers (such as the ability to declare war and appropriate dollars to support the war effort), and a sort of “twilight zone” of concurrent powers. In the zone of concurrent powers, the Congress might effectively limit presidential power, but in the absence of express congressional limitations the President is free to act. Although on paper it might appear that the powers of Congress with respect to war are more dominant, the reality is that Presidential power has been more important–in part due to the modern need for quick responses to foreign threats and in part due to the many-headed nature of Congress.
The Supreme Court has had relatively little to say about the Constitution’s war powers. Many interesting legal questions–such as the constitutionality of the “police action” in Korea or the “undeclared war” in Viet Nam–were never decided by the Court. (Although the Supreme Court had three opportunities to decide the constitutionality of the war in Viet Nam, it passed on each one.)
During the Civil War, the Court issued two significant opinions interpreting the war powers. In the Prize Cases (1863), the Court on a 5 to 4 vote upheld President Lincoln’s order blockading southern ports–even though the order was issues prior to a formal declaration of war on the Rebel states by Congress. The Court found Lincoln’s action authorized by a 1795 Act allowing the President to call out troops to suppress an insurrection. The dissenters argued the President’s action were unconstitutional, as a blockade is quite different that an action merely directed at those participating in an insurrection. Three years later, in Ex Parte Milligan, the Court found unconstitutional Lincoln’s order authorizing trial by a military tribunal of Lambdin P. Milligan, an Indiana lawyer accused of stirring up support for the Confederacy. The Court ruled that civilians must be tried in civilian courts, even during time of war, so long at least as the civilian courts are open and operating. The Court also found the President lacked authority to declare martial law in Indiana. Four concurring justices argued that even though the President did not have the power to order a military trial of Milligan in the absence of congressional action, the power to authorize use of military tribunals did reside in Congress under its war power.
ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8
The Congress shall have Power:
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress….
ARTICLE II, SECTION 2
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States….
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur….
It appears here that the congress declares war That has been replaced since the Korean war with resolutions. Congress has not challenged that.
The president is commander and chief. No place are the duties of congress counter to that. It’s the way it’s been run for a couple hundred years.
The first time we invaded another country was Mexico in the 1840’s. It was President Polks expansion under manifest destiny, quite unjustified. He fought with congress, won the war but served only one term.
Would you command soldiers in a war in which 600 congressmen and congresswomen can control the strategies?
As far as Iran is concerned, recent discoveries of weapons and Iranian fighters in Iraq may be making the case for overt interference by Iran.
If they are developing the Atomic bomb then they are a deadly enemy who would start WWIV. We are in WWIII now.
Until then the economic screws must be turned on them along with our “European Allies”
This is a difficult situation. I think it is more dangerous than North Korea because that Korean jerk is afraid to die. I believe the Iranian president is willing to sacrifice his people for a chance to wipe out Israel.
Long term plan is patience and aggressive pursuit of the foreign fighters.
Remember, the American revolution began in 1775 and the constitution was ratified in 1790, 15 years. The Iraqs lack the history of freedom that those colonials had.
Success could bring some interruption to the growth of radical Islam. These radical folks are demonstrating to the Arab folks that they will kill anyone at any time. I think some citizens are getting this now.
I agree American and European history in the middle east has been problem some at best. Probably set the seeds for the problems we now face.
I agree there has to be a complete review and stabilization of the strategies. We got to stop the power grabs and join together.
If we can all get on board and work together, Al Qaeda et al will have to change strategy which now is “kill Americans” and get the anti-war groups angry. Cause division in US. Use the confusion to sneak in and cause havoc.
What do you think?
Did you read Novak’s column in the Herald about the honorable senate leader Harry Reid?
It points out disgraceful acts so I guess we won’t see any comments in this blog.
Harry Reid, according to Robert Novak, has been conspiring with Nancy Pelosi to strip anti-earmark transparency from the final version of ethic legislation.
Wasn’t it Nancy and Reid who announced a new honesty in the congress after the Dem win.