Friday, January 19, 2007

It is not about Republican vs. Democrat.
It is about Executive vs. Legislative branches.

Joe Biden (D), Chuck Hagel (R) , Carl Levin (D) and Olympia Snow (R), are the first four Senators to sign on as co-sponsors of the non-binding resolution on Iraq that will be debated on the Senate floor shortly after the State of the Union speech. Chris Matthew's Hardball was all over the story.

Wednesday on Hardball (transcript, video):
MATTHEWS: "Democratic Senators Joe Biden, Carl Levin and leading Republican war critic, Senator Chuck Hagel, held a press conference today outlining their bipartisan, nonbinding resolution opposing President Bush‘s plan to escalate the war in Iraq. Senator Hagel, a possible candidate for the White House in 2008, joins us from Capitol Hill. Senator Hagel, what can you get done with this nonbinding resolution? "
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL:" Chris, it would be very significant and here is why. We have not had a national debate on this issue of Iraq. This is the most divisive issue in this country since Vietnam. It will continue to drive families against families. It‘s not in the interest of American, nor of the world. What a resolution will do to start the process, go before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have an opportunity to debate that, bring it to the floor of the Senate, let America understand more what‘s at stake, and put the Senate on record, if that‘s what happens—I hope it does—on taking a position regarding escalation of military involvement in Iraq... that‘s the way democracies work, Chris. That‘s the responsibility we have to America. America needs to have some assurance that we have a policy that is sustainable, more importantly, that they will sustain it. That is not the case now...
And I would also remind your viewers, Chris, this is the kind of government that has a co-equal branch of government process. That means the Congress is just as important as the president...
You have a sectarian, tribal civil war that we cannot fix in Iraq. The Iraqis are the only ones that can determine their own fate. They‘re going to have to sort that out. We can continue to help. We should. We must. For example, we can move our troops, many of our resources, to the border areas to try to protect the territorial integrity of Iraq, but this is an internal issue. This is not just about insurgents anymore. This is about Iraqis killing Iraqis, Sunnis killing Shia—actually Shias killing Shias.
You can‘t feed American troops into the middle of that, Chris, and fix that problem. And many of us are saying, no more on this. We‘re not going to sacrifice more American lives to put in the middle of a civil war. "
Thursday on Hardball (transcript, video):
MATTHEWS: Senator Joe Biden, is your resolution a resolution of no-confidence in the presidents running of this war inon Iraq?
SEN. JOE BIDEN: The answer is yes it is. If this were a parliamentary system it would bring the government down I believe...."
MATTHEWS: "Should the President be required to get a resolution of congress before he attacks Iran?"
SEN. JOE BIDEN:"Absolutely. Positively, Unequivocally. I have a second resolution, a law actually, I am in the process of drafting, I will be seeking bi-partisan support, making it clear that the authorization for the use of force that the presidient got three and a half years ago, does not give him the authority to attack Syria or Iran. "
MATTHEWS:"You don't expect him to sign that bill do you?"
SEN. JOE BIDEN:"No I don't. But I expect it to generate a constitutional crisis were he to ignore it."
There is a reason why the founding fathers designed our government with checks, balances and separation of powers. Exhibit 1 - this resolution. The meat of the draft resolution (as it exists today) follows. It will likely change as more Republicans and Democrats come on board as co-sponsors.
"Now therefore be it resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that -

(1) it is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating the United States military force presence in Iraq;

(2) the primary objective of United States strategy in Iraq should be to have the Iraqi political leaders make the political compromises necessary to end the violence in Iraq;

(3) greater concerted regional, and international support would assist the Iraqis in achieving a political solution and national reconciliation;

(4) main elements of the mission of United States forces in Iraq should transition to helping ensure the territorial integrity of Iraq, conduct counterterrorism activities, reduce regional interference in the internal affairs of Iraq, and accelerate training of Iraqi troops;

(5) the United States should transfer, under an appropriately expedited timeline, responsibility for internal security and halting sectarian violence in Iraq to the Government of Iraq and Iraqi security forces;

(6) the United States should engage nations in the Middle East to develop a regionally-sponsored peace and reconciliation process for Iraq."
Full text here.

Apologists for the administration's failed war plan fall back on intellectually bankrupt arguments like "you cannot run a war by committee." That may or may not be true. But it is irrelevant if the Commander in Chief cannot run a war at all. When the president demonstrates an inability to lead, as evidenced by failure after failure, it is the responsibility of the congress to assert their authority, even if it is not optimal, and is inefficient or inelegant. We are not a parliamentary government and cannot bring down the government with a vote of "no confidence". When our government is hell-bent on taking a wrong course, this is the only choice we have. Congress must take the reins now. Nancy Pelosi has subsequently announced that the House of Representatives will support the Senate resolution. The executive / legislative "High Noon" constitutional showdown is joined.

On a related topic, Hagel and Biden are DWSUWF's top two choices for our stack ranking of the 2008 presidential candidates, as they have been from our very first ranking. Their efforts on this resolution reinforce that choice.

As the 2008 campaign gets started in earnest, this seems a good time to publish our first presidential candidate stack rank update of 2007:

DWSUWF 2008 Presidential Candidate
Stack Ranking V 2.2

  1. Chuck Hagel (R)
  2. Joe Biden (D)
  3. Ron Paul (R)
  4. Barack Obama (D)
  5. John McCain (R)
  6. Bill Richardson (D)
  7. Rudolf Giuliani (R)
  8. Hillary Clinton (D)
  9. Mike Huckabee (R)
  10. Wesley Clark (D)

Changes since the last update: Ron Paul (Libertarian-Republican congressman) has announced his intention to run for the Republican nomination, and leaps immediately into the the number 3 spot. While Ron Paul is probably closest of the declared major party candidates to the DWSUWF political philosophy, as a practical libertatrianDWSUWF cannot put him into the top spot, believing that Paul has not a snowball's chance in hell of getting the nomination. Mike Hucakbee (R) has also annouced his candidacy, and replaces Condi Rice in the Mister (Ms.) Irrelevant #9 spot. Glad to have a reason to drop Condi from the list after her performance on the hill last week (an "augmentation" ?!?).

As a reminder, the DWSUWF stack ranking is not a prediction but a preference. This list represents the top ten candidates we would like to see as President, stack ranked in order of preference. Imposed on this list are two artificial constraints: alternating political party affiliation, and a divided government outcome in 2008.

DWSUWF notes that the top four candidates in the stack ranking were all right on the war in Iraq before the bombs started dropping in March of 2003. They demonstrated good decision making and political courage in their public statements when it was neither popular nor politic to take a stand against the president's prosecution of the war. In the end, we do not vote on the plans and do not execute the plans, but elect representatives we hope will have the intelligence and ability to create and execute a plan in our name.

These candidates were right when it really mattered. That makes them right for President in 2008, when our soldiers will still be fighting and dying refereeing a civil war in Iraq.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

No comments: