| The Senate considered the so-called Feingold-Reid amendment this week. The measure would have basically forced the President's hand. Now, it was never really likely to pass or survive a veto, but it was an issue of going on the record and realizing a few things -- that this President does not respond to criticism at all (hence, we still can't say "former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales") and that for the War in Iraq to end, his hand must be forced.
Now, Max Baucus and Jon Tester both voted against Feingold-Reid. They're in a different place than me. That's fine. I ain't happy about it, but it's understandable. I suppose if I'd spent a long life living in a world where people would actually work together, I'd probably fail to see it when I entered a situation where the most powerful douchebag on the planet refuses to work with the opposition at all.
That said, I think they both really miss the boat in their attempts to explain their votes:
"It's time for a change of course in Iraq, and I'm committed to working together with my colleagues on a solution," Baucus said in a prepared statement. "However, I'm not for pulling the rug out from under our brave military men and women serving in Iraq. I cannot support cutting off funding while they're fighting on the frontlines overseas. It just wouldn't be right."There's a couple problems with this -- first and foremost, it's misleading. As a staffer from one of their offices told me himself, there's this whole false understanding that passing Feingold-Reid would literally mean that tanks in Iraq would start running out of gas and the like. That's simply not true -- and it's not how our government actually operates. Our Senators shouldn't perpetuate myths.
"I am doing everything in my power as a U.S. senator to end the war in Iraq, but I will not cast any vote that I believe compromises the safety and security of our troops on the ground," Tester said, also in a prepared statement.
"I have said for two years that the president needs to develop a plan to get us out of Iraq," Tester said. "The Congress and the American people have spoken; the president needs to start listening."
Second, they're both using common right-wing attacks to undermine progressive Democratic leadership. They could have both simply said, "My position is that the President and the Pentagon need to come up with a plan. This bill doesn't accomplish that." Instead, they threw in a gratuitous, "Leading members of my own party want to 'pull out the rug' on our troops in a way that 'I believe compromises the safety and security of our troops on the ground.'" Those are Mitch McConnell's talking points.
Third, they've effectively locked themselves in. If this vote was simply out-of-line with their current position, they could move based on new evidence. But they've now said anything like Feingold-Reid is tantamount to voting against the troops -- something that will no doubt be used against them if they change their position down the road as it becomes clear that President Manchild refuses to do anything about the mess he's gotten our country in.
An Addendum -- I should add a point that Atrios makes a lot, which is the trap of playing President. A lot of the supposed solutions to the quagmire in Iraq involve the President taking a different approach. All of those solutions are based on a faulty premise -- that this President is willing to adjust anything based on what some inkling body called Congress tells him to do. Even worse, there's a fairly large (roughly 30%) share of the electorate that seems to believe they elected a God or a King, not a President -- and they'll tell him to fight like Hell for the right to keep spilling Iraqi and American blood.
It's time to stop assuming or pretending that there is good faith on the part of the executive and to instead focus on every possible avenue that can be undertaken. That's not radicalism -- it's realism. And people just need to wake up to it.