How does an intervention in a caucus work? This needs to be answered because the House Republicans need one, and very soon.
In the past three weeks I have spoken on air with every member of the GOP leadership: Republican Leader Boehner, Republican Whip Blunt, Republican Deputy Whip Cantor and Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Caucus Tom Cole. Each is a solid conservative, and each is strong supporter of victory in Iraq.
And none would utter even the mildest criticism of their GOP colleagues who are in the process of deserting the war effort, “emboldening the enemy,” to use Congressman Cole’s words, and sending a message to American allies and yes our enemies that the desire to cut and run now has bipartisan support.
Two weeks ago Senator Mitch McConnell skillfully led his chamber’s GOP caucus away from the edge of political ruin. Senate rules gave McConnell an advantage Boehner does not enjoy: McConnell could block a vote if only 40 Republicans would join with Joe Lieberman to refuse to allow defeatism to go official. Senator McConnell gathered more than enough votes, and the 32,000+ signatures at TheNRSCPledge.com helped get the attention of waverers who might have thought a little political cover a useful thing. The victory Republicans in the party’s base made it clear that there are no “free votes” on the war. It is one of at most two issues –the other being Supreme Court nominees—for which political absolution down the road is not an option.
The House does not play by the Senate’s rules, and Democrats will get their up-or-down vote on their white flag resolution. GOP leadership’s ill-conceived effort to try a Bud light version of the Democrats’ telegram to terrorists of fading American will was abandoned after it became evident that this was simply not an option with the base. That was the good news.
But then, incredibly, the leadership chose not the “whip” the vote. That means they decided not to lean on Republicans who have soured on the war and who are declaring for defeat.