New Majority

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jan 10, 2007 1:47 PM

Same "symbolic votes."

Kinda like "symbolic" national security, which we can also expect from the Dems. Or, "symbolic" ethics reform:

Democratic leaders said Tuesday that they intended to hold symbolic votes in the House and Senate on President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Baghdad, forcing Republicans to take a stand on the proposal and seeking to isolate the president politically over his handling of the war.

Senate Democrats decided to schedule a vote on the resolution after a closed-door meeting on a day when Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts introduced legislation to require Mr. Bush to gain Congressional approval before sending more troops to Iraq.

The Senate vote is expected as early as next week, after an initial round of committee hearings on the plan Mr. Bush will lay out for the nation Wednesday night in a televised address delivered from the White House library, a setting chosen because it will provide a fresh backdrop for a presidential message.

The office of Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, followed with an announcement that the House would also take up a resolution in opposition to a troop increase. House Democrats were scheduled to meet Wednesday morning to consider whether to interrupt their carefully choreographed 100-hour, two-week-long rollout of their domestic agenda this month to address the Iraq war.

They won't actually go the extra mile, completely abandon the troops on principle, and yank the pursestrings, but they'll be very "symbolically" outraged at the new plan while taking partial credit for any progress that comes of the surge. Nevermind that they're the ones who've insisted that Bush's rigidity and adherence to the old plan was the problem all along. Now, that he's flexible? "New plan bad. Only retreat will do." Of course, they never wanted a new plan, and we all knew that. They're all about "symbolism."

Update: Fellow Dems who have insisted on limiting funding in the past (ahem, Durbin) are now abandoning their colleague, Mr. Kennedy for fear of being caricatured as anti-G.I. The nutroots faction is dipleased at the half-measure. When they want a war lost, they want it lost all-out.

Kennedy may find more allies on the House side. On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi hinted that Democrats might cut off funding for the troop increase when Bush makes his supplemental budget request to keep the war going. John Murtha, who chairs the defense appropriations committee, where the supplemental would be debated, is planning to hold hearings within a week to pick apart the president's plan and perhaps put forward his own surge-killing legislation to limit funding and troop levels. (The White House no doubt regrets treating Murtha so roughly when he suggested a troop redeployment.)

Democratic leader Reid says the funds-limiting option is still on the table and could come after the bipartisan resolution. Democrats are also noodling other options, including a measure floated by Robert Byrd to rewrite the October 2002 authorization-of-force resolution that opened the door for the Iraq invasion of 2003.

Time matters if Democrats want to take forceful action. Going after the supplemental funding bill will take too long. That request from the administration isn't likely to arrive until early February. By then, troops could be on their way and the question would flip from being about a future action to one already under way. "The horse will be out of the barn by the time we get there," says Kennedy. "And then we'll be asked, are we going to deny the body armor to the young men and women that are over there?"

I'm pretty sure I saw that Slate piece linked somewhere yesterday, so if I forgot to hat-tip someone, my apologies.

Update: Blackfive: It ain't just a surge.

Update: Gateway Pundit: Iraq won't be Vietnam unless we let Democrats lose it.

Update: CYA-ing with Joe Biden.