September dud, the war continues
The public grows increasingly frustrated as the Iraq war drags on with no significant change in sight. September was supposed to be the...
The public grows increasingly frustrated as the Iraq war drags on with no significant change in sight.
September was supposed to be the month Democrats in Congress marshaled the votes to change course. But a significant war vote last week serves as a strong reminder of the rules of the U.S. Senate: Senators need 60 votes to break a filibuster. Most educated Americans know that in the back of their minds, but they forget how high a hurdle that can be.
Voters did not elect enough Democrats to change policy. Democrats don't have the numbers to make a course change alone, so that means persuading, cajoling and convincing Republicans to join them in creating an endgame for Iraq.
Only 56 senators supported an amendment by U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat, to guarantee troops more time at home. Specifically, the legislation would have required that troops spend as much time at home training as they do fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The vote in favor of the bill included 49 Democrats, six Republicans and Vermont independent Bernie Sanders. This is the closest Democrats have come to something resembling agreement on the war.
What will it take to get 60 votes to beat a filibuster? Voters have to elect candidates who promise to take the tough war vote.
Now it seems Democrats are pushing ahead with a more fatalistic approach and a plan to wrap the war around Republicans politically in the 2008 elections.
Webb's amendment may not be the best one to judge the Senate's temperature. It is flawed because it stymies flexibility for military commanders, yet the amendment continued to push the argument that Congress has a say in war policy.
Friday, the Senate rejected a bill that would have ordered most U.S. troops home from Iraq in nine months.
September, supposedly the month with the most hope for changing course, turned into a dud.
The broader, more important effort to end the war fails because Democrats have not been able to persuade Republicans to vote with them.
The effort fails, too, because some Republicans continue to buy President Bush's unsubstantiated fantasy that the war remains winnable. The voice of the people needs to be heard.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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