Sunday, February 18, 2007

Meta Posturing

Folks who were in opposition to this weeks "anti-surge" resolutions almost invariably stated that they were opposed to debating a resolution that would not and could not actually do anything. For instance, the Dispatch published an editorial titled "Empty Gesture," which was referenced by Pat Tiberi in his remarks regarding the resolution. There's a point to be made on these grounds, but not until we establish that the Republicans are no more serious about this than the Democrats they disparage. Ask Mr. Boehner if he would oppose a resolution 'supporting the troops' on the grounds that it would be "a political charade, lacking both the seriousness and gravity of the issue it is meant to address." Picture in your mind Pat Tiberi standing up and saying "For all the chest-pounding from my Republican colleagues about supporting the troops, this resolution does nothing."

These guys are too gutless to vocalize support for the escalation, and patently insincere in their justifications for opposing the resolution.

Now that that's out of the way, perhaps we can discuss the point. The New York Times, in their editorial supporting the resolution, stated:

...we welcome the House of Representatives’ long-overdue attempt to shake some sense into Mr. Bush with a resolution opposing his decision to send another 20,000 combat troops to fight this disastrous war without any plan to end it. Yet yesterday’s vote, in which 17 Republicans joined the Democrats to produce a margin of 246 to 182, was the easy part. It takes no great courage or creativity for a politician to express continuing support for the troops and opposition to a vastly unpopular and unpromising military escalation.

So what we see are opinion makers stating that they support the resolution, even though it is an ineffectual and ultimately meaningless gesture, or conversely stating that they strongly oppose the measure, even though it is an ineffectual and ultimately meaningless gesture. We see Dennis Kucinich lining up with conservatives who are itching for a fight over funding the war.

Now, a number of folks, like Mike Turner (R-Centerville), are calling out the Democrats for not offering up their own alternatives. Let's be absolutely clear here - war planning is the responsibility of the executive branch. Congress gets a role in making declarations, in oversight and advice, and of course, in funding. The new Congress is not a rubber stamp (we're looking at you, Pat), but they still have the function of dealing with what comes across their desks.

So, rather than asking Mr. Turner why he is willing to state that "serious mistakes have been made in the execution of the Iraqi conflict," but he thinks that it is the responsibility of other congressfolk to come up with solutions for him to debate while he complains, I'm going to point out two alternatives that are floating out there:

1) The Murtha proposal, as outlined in the NYT editorial:

Mr. Murtha would link this year’s war financing to the Pentagon’s adoption of new deployment rules, including longer stretches from the battlefield for returning troops, more specialized training and better defensive equipment. That would let representatives cast a politically safe vote for financing the war, while forcing the Pentagon to gradually reduce the number of active duty troops available to serve in Iraq.

2) Believe it or not, Pat Tiberi dropped a hint in his floor speech that he wants to debate the findings of the Iraq Study Group. Mr. Tiberi could lead a movement to have Congress make support contingent on the President adopting the recommendations of the ISG as a complete package.

I don't see it happening. I expect to see more of the griping that I've described in previous posts and that Johnathan Riskind is now noting as well. The Republicans were never an attractive bunch, but they're particularly distasteful to listen to now that they're in the minority. Many of them can't bring themselves to oppose the actual acts of the majority, they oppose the fact that they no longer are the acting majority. Right now, they're complaining about political posturing by the Dems. As I said, I disagree, but there's a debate to be had over that point. The complaints of people like my Representative, however, are simply political posturing over the politically expedient issue of political posturing, which makes it seem as if they really just want to wrap themselves up in a blanket of irrelevance.

1 comment:

DelCo Dem said...

You are so right- the real story with the Republicans on this issue is that they only want to debate having a debate, not offering any ideas or agreeing to commit to a resolution, and all the while WHINING.