Are the Democrats Finally Developing Some Nerve?

Better late than never, I suppose. Here we have a president whose policies, particularly on Iraq, were thorougly repudiated in the Congressional midterm elections and who continues to get a vote of no confidence from the electorate, via terrible approval ratings. Yet he carries on as if he had a mandate. But all the Democrats have been willing to do is not even a shot, more a water balloon, across his bow, in the form of non-binding resolutions expressing disapproval of the war in Iraq, and the Senate version never came to the floor for a vote.

Even the admittedly very small sample of people I know in the heartlands (relatives and their friends, who for the most part voted for Bush both times) are mystified at the Congress’ failure to leash and collar Bush. Congress, after all, has the exclusive power to declare war, and also controls the pursestrings. It withheld funding in the Vietnam war and could do so now. And no one is using the word “impeachment”, when it was bandied about in the Clinton years for vastly less substantive causes.

Cynics argue that Democrats are doing as little as they credibly can, so as not to touch the tar baby of this war and to leave the disaster sqaurely in Republican hands. If true (and it may well be), it means that Democrats are in a race to the bottom, each willing to squander US and Iraqi lives, America’s reputation, and a lot of money to gain marginal political advantate.

The tide may finally be beginning to turn. Raw Story reports that Senator Joe Biden is planning to introduce legislation that would revoke the 2002 authorization that enabled Bush to invade Iraq. Even if Biden’s effort fails, it will hopefully embolden Democrats to pursue other, more frontal efforts to reassert their authority and take action in concert with the public’s wishes:

In prepared remarks for a speech about Iraq to be given today at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution, Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, states that the “best next step is to revisit the authorization Congress granted the President in 2002 to use force in Iraq.”

“That’s exactly what I’m doing,” Biden continues. “We gave the President that power to destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and, if necessary, to depose Saddam Hussein.”….

Today, Biden argues that since “the WMD were not there” and “Saddam Hussein is no longer there,” the “2002 authorization is no longer relevant to the situation in Iraq.”

Last month, Biden responded to comments made by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates which blamed Congressional resolutions against President Bush’s Iraq policies for giving aid to the “enemy.” The chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week that it was the president’s “failed” strategy which has “emboldened the enemy,” not Congress.

Stephanopoulos asked Biden, “The administration is stepping up the rhetoric on your resolution. You saw the president, the vice-president, General Petraeus, all saying it would hurt morale and Pentagon Secretary Robert Gates added, ‘It will embolden the enemy.’ Are you worried that may be true?”

“No,” Biden responded. “Not at all.”

“It’s not the American and the United States Congress who are emboldening the enemy,” Biden continued. “It’s the failed policy of this president, going to war without a strategy, going to war prematurely, going to war without enough troops, going to war without enough equipment and, lastly, now sending 17,500 people in the middle of a city of six and a half million people with bulls-eyes on their back, with no plan.”

Biden added, “There is no plan. He has tactics, George, but no plan.”

“Biden long has criticized Bush’s strategy in Iraq,” Barry Schweid reports for the Associated Press. “It is not clear whether he would be able to draw enough congressional support to succeed in his effort which also would face a Bush veto.”

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