"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Friday, November 18, 2005


Oh, for Jeebus' sake. If toddlers were elected to Congress, it would look a lot like this (via Political Wire):
The Hotline has learned that the House GOP leadership might bring a symbolic, but politically charged, resolution to the floor today that would force Dems to register an up-or-down vote on Rep. John Murtha's call for U.S. troops to immediately withdraw from Iraq. The pre-Thanksgiving recess vote will force Dems to go on the record on one of the year's most sensitive issues and provide the NRCC a roll call vote on the so-called "cut and run" question going into '06.

I swear to God, if I hear the phrase "up-or-down vote" one more time, unless it's in the context of Harriet Miers, I'm gonna puke. Probably through my nose.

This little stunt would be laughable, if it didn't have the potential to become political dynamite. Here's the AP:
By forcing the issue to a vote, Republicans placed many Democrats in a politically unappealing position — whether to side with Murtha and expose themselves to attacks from the White House and congressional Republicans, or whether to oppose him and risk angering the voters that polls show want an end to the conflict.

Murtha offered a resolution that would force the president to withdraw the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq "at the earliest practicable date." It would establish a quick-reaction force and a nearby presence of Marines in the region.

House Republicans planned to put to a vote — and reject — their own resolution that simply says: "It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

Most Republicans oppose Murtha's plan, and some Democrats also have been reluctant to back his position.

There's so much packed into these few short paragraphs. First, I am struck by the absurdity at the heart of it all - either the Democrats line up behind Murtha and represent the wishes of "the voters that polls show want an end to the conflict," or face our wrinkly Elephantine wrath! Sounds silly, I know, but the fact is, it just might work if the Democrats don't watch their step.

The key to the whole thing is to avoid the Republicans' trap - that is, heap derision and scorn on the obviously meaningless resolution - while at the same time vigorously promoting the Murtha bill itself. You want an up-or-down vote, suckas? Well, then, vote - but vote on an actual piece of legislation, and not a flowery resolution. The public gets tired of arcane legislative debates, but they're not dumb. They understand concepts like "the devil is in the details" and "get it in writing." It is altogether proper that Congress consider the Murtha bill with all deliberate speed, but anyone other than a full-on Shrubhugger will understand that important matters like national security and the lives of our servicemen and -women deserve better than a one-line resolution. The Republican offering is juvenile, it's irresponsible (to use the Boy King's word of the day), and it's insulting to our troops and to all Americans.

That's the only frame that will work. When some Republican ward heeler stands to call for a vote on the Crybaby Resolution, Shadow Speaker Pelosi must rise and demand, instead, a vote on the Murtha bill. Don't worry - yet; the time will come for worry - if the party is not entirely solid behind the Murtha bill. There's no risk, because the majority party will not allow that legislation to actually come to a vote.

The fact is, they're drowning. It's time to throw 'em an anchor.




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