Rewriting Resolutions, Rewriting History

Ken AshfordBush & Co., Congress, IraqLeave a Comment

What a night on the floor of the House.

For those of you in a cave, it went something like this:  Conservative pro-war Democrat Rep. John Murtha from PA came out recently and spoke against the war, urging "immiediate withdrawal".  For that, this decorated war hero was attacked by the Bush White House as being part of the "Michael Moore" fringe, and others castigated him as being a coward.

Murtha proposed a resolution, the salient part of which reads as follows:

Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That:

Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.

Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines shall be deployed in the region.

Section 3 The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.

The Republicans, in a clear political ploy, sought to embarrass Murtha, by "rewriting" Murtha’s resolution and getting the House to vote on it.  The rewrite (called the Hunter Resolution) read, in its entirety, as follow:


Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that
the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.

Now, the obviousness of the ploy was easily apparent.  The Republicans drafted a resolution which would easily be voted down, and then they could claim that Murtha’s resolution was voted down, thus embarassing Murtha.

Of course, anyone with a brain would ask: if you want to reject the Murtha resolution, why not VOTE on the Murtha resolution?

For what it is worth, the Hunter-not-Murtha Resolution was voted down 403-3 last night.  In the course of the "debate", Rep. Jean Schmidt from Ohio, who barely won her seat running against a Democrat who was an Iraqi war veteran, got herself into hot water by insinuating that Murtha was a "coward".  This woman is a vile reprehensible thing: just watch the video (relevant transcript is here)

In the light of dawn, the whole debacle was a Democratic victory.  I checked the conservative blogs, and most of them sense that last night’s stunt didn’t work to the Republican benefit.

Glenn Reynolds quotes blogger Larry Kudlow:

…Therefore I believe that Pres. Bush and Sen. McCain are exactly right: premature withdrawal would be a disaster.

That said, however, I do not like the Duncan Hunter resolution "…that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

It is not serious. It demeans the House. It totally politicizes the debate. It is a ploy and a rather weak one at that. . . .

Why not state the resolution in the affirmative? " We pledge to deploy troops in Iraq until the mission of liberation, freedom and democracy is satisfactorily completed." And why not seek to gain as much bi-partisan political support as possible? This would truly help the mission, and the troops.

I think that’s right. And I think that to the (large) extent that some Republicans are making this a personal issue about Murtha, instead of talking about the absolutely unsupportable nature of his proposal, it’s a mistake.

Even the boys at Powerline were nonplussed:

The House leadership had a golden opportunity to make the Democrats put up or shut up tonight, and I’m afraid they blew it. Rep. John Murtha offered a resolution demanding surrender in Iraq within six months (at least, that’s how the New York Times describes it; I haven’t seen the actual text, and news reports have varied.) If the House leadership had precipitated a vote on what Murtha actually proposed, we could have had a useful moment of clarity. Instead, however, they scheduled a vote on a resolution calling for immediate withdrawal, which was how Murtha’s resolution was widely reported, but, apparently, not quite what it said. That gave the Democrats an easy out; they opposed it, and it failed overwhelmingly (403-3 is the last tally I’ve seen.)

So nothing was accomplished. And the debate, needless to say, was less than edifying.

However, Redstate’s Leon H seems to think it was a Republican victory, because the Hunter Resolution was (according to Leon H) "substantively identical" to Murtha’s.  You can read his attempt to explain why this is so, although you’ll see his reasoning is tortured and strained.  And of course, he avoids the obvious question I mentioned above: if the purpose was to defeat Murtha’s resolution, why not VOTE on Murtha’s resolution?

The response from the left is actually pretty subdued.  We’ve seen these outrages many many many times.  And we now know that these tactics are not resonating with the American people.

I leave with some words from Shakespeare’s Sister and (below the fold) DemfromCT:

Murtha’s resolution, as originally proposed, is really solid. Our presence, and being seen as occupiers, fuels the insurgency; withdrawal dampens its flames. Retaining an emergency force in the region to respond if the fledging democracy needs military assistance is probably not only the best and most productive help we can give to the Iraqis at this time, but also has the added political benefit of deflecting charges that we cut and run—because we won’t have. But the GOP won’t even allow a good-faith debate about the parts and pieces of Murtha’s resolution; they just keep babbling about supporting the troops.

This is how much respect the GOP has for the troops: they’ll not only use them to fight a war of choice halfway around the world, sending them to risk their lives over a pack of bloody lives; they’ll also use them as a shield at home, hiding behind the soldiers they refuse to properly armor, using the troops as a shield to deflect criticism. These chickenhawk pieces of shit won’t even walk onto the battlefield of ideas. They cower instead behind ribbons and bumper magnets and lapel pins and small flags on sticks, stubbornly insisting that they are right, and caring none for the consequences if they aren’t.

The Next Hurrah:

I’m not seeing any more insipid MSM "Can Bush bounce back?" articles this week. That would imply talents the man doesn’t have, and a public that would put up with more of the President’s schtick. From National Journal:

Many of Bush’s critics equate his unwavering approach, particularly regarding Iraq, with a nearly pathological unwillingness to admit mistakes. Even more ominous, in their critiques of his presidency, these critics have coalesced around a single, animating idea: that Bush and his top aides deliberately exaggerated the extent of Saddam’s arsenal of prohibited weaponry.

At first, this theory was the realm of Michael Mooresville. But a lot of Americans saw Moore’s movie, and they weren’t all Bush-hating left-wingers. Moreover, history didn’t stop with Bush’s re-election: American military personnel kept dying, a few every week, until the number of dead surpassed 2,000. A tenacious Gold Star mother camped out in front of Bush’s Texas ranch. The two-year mark of the invasion passed with no end in sight. Libby got indicted. Democratic senators who supported Bush’s war resolution began looking to explain a vote they had come to rue. So they, too, began voicing the rhetoric of Bush’s "lies" and "manipulating the intelligence."

And one week — in late June, to be exact — a majority of Americans told pollsters that Bush "deliberately misled" the public before the war. This was a singularly ominous development in Bush’s presidency, but the White House was slow to react. Bush’s aides considered it a smear so outside the realm of truth or logic that they thought it wouldn’t stick — that it would, in fact, discredit those making the claim.

"No one would justify a war based on information you know to be false and which would be shown to be false within months after the war concluded," says White House aide Peter Wehner. "The claim that the president ‘lied’ about the war is both demonstrably untrue and implausible."

Nevertheless, this perception has now metastasized into a kind of national conventional wisdom. In the past week, it finally galvanized the White House into action.

In firing back, White House officials have revealed in public statements and private asides whom Bush blames for the current state of affairs. His nominees, in descending order, appear to be Senate Democrats (at least those who voted for the Iraq war and now oppose it), the media, and the CIA.

Well, last night was another failed attempt to blame someone else. But the Bush Administration still has two basic truths that won’t go away. One is that this is Bush’s war, and it’s not going well. The other is that character asassination is one of the very few things they’re good at. And neither is news to the American people.