The Candidates On Iraq and Ending The Debacle

Move On had its virtual town hall meeting last night. John Edwards won the Big Tent Dem sweepstakes, with the caveat that he still has not endorsed Reid-Feingold. How did the others do? Let's take a look. Here's my description of part of Hillary's answer:

There are two ways of thinking about this, what to do when Bush is President and what to do when a new President is in office. For the present, Hillary discusses her own bill, a bill that places conditions and benchmarks on funding, among other things. As for what is going on now, Hillary said this Congress was elected to end the war and bring the troops home. However, to do this Republican support is necessary. . . .

I stop here because this is the wrong answer. Democrats can end the war without Republican support. What is required is the courage to announce a date certain when DEMOCRATS will no longer fund the Iraq Debacle. Hillary is not for ending the war because she has placed an impossible condition on ending the war, garnering sufficient Republican support. That will not happen. There is one way to end the war while Bush is President -- do NOT fund it after a date certain. The Reid-Feingold bill need not pass in order to end the war. Democrats need only abide by its provisions.

Chris Dodd on how to stop the war while Bush is President:

I am a supporter of Feingold-Reid

Chris Dodd has my endorsement at this time.

Barack Obama:

I opposed the war in Iraq. . . . The occupation has to end . . .

How? Senator Obama, how? With Bush as President, how?:

Since January I have put forward a specific plan [discusses his "plan"]. . .

Bush ain't doing it. Now what?

I realize Bush will veto and I believe we eed to ratchet up the pressure . . .

How? Senator Obama, how?

Obama is asked if he will commit to only voting for Iraq funding with a timeline:

I am committed to putting as much pressure as possible on the President in a responsible fashion. I am committed to finding the 67 votes to override the veto and to shorten the funding periods to three or four month intervals. I will be working diligently with the leadership . . .

(Emphasis supplied.) No endorsement of Reid-Feingold. Not surprisingly, I find this answer to be inadequate. Better than before, but still not what needs to be said imo.

Joe Biden, how can we end the war?

After we pull out troops then what? [Biden touts the Biden-Gelb partition plan.]

Biden is not at all focused on the real world battle to end the Debacle but on his "then what" question. For me that is the wrong answer.

Bill Richardson:

If I was President, I would withdraw from Iraq today. I would have no residual force whatsoever. [Discusses diplomatic initiatives and post withdrawal plans.]

Richardson is not in Congress but his endorsement of Reid-Feingold would be very significant.

Richardson is asked "It appears that stopping the funding for the war is the only way to stop the war. Are you for or against stopping the funding and why?" My paraphrase of his answer and my description:

Richardson rightly says it is the Congress' Constitutional right of Congress to start a war and stop a war. I am for a timetable for withdrawal and a cutoff of appropriations. I would go further. I would deauthorize the war based on the War Powers Act. I believe this is the most important step.

I like this answer but believe it is not correct. As I have written, deauthorization is the messier proposition and waiting on the Supreme Court to solve the problem is not realistic. But Richardson supports not funding the Debacle. No direct word on Reid-Feingold.

Dennis Kucinich has been a consistent and staunch supporter of not funding the war. On this issue, Kucinich is virtually impeccable.

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    I like Dodd even more today (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:00:33 AM EST
    since he called it Feingold-Reid.  Wasn't Feingold the first to pick up this torch?  I like a man who chooses dispersal of credit over dispersal of power ;).  I still don't understand how Obama and Clinton can continue to be such silly mush mouths, not very presidential.  

    I call it Reid-Feingold (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:02:54 AM EST
    not to take away credit for Feingold but to emphasize that the LEADER OF THE SENATE favors this plan.

    I know why you do it ;) (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:14:46 AM EST
    Reid is the guy with the key to the gun cabinet and when you have a cowboy in the oval office that is a very important thing to have.

    Dodd would make a good President. (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by andgarden on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:28:04 AM EST
    but I think he gives off too much Kerry to win the primary.

    Dodd is the man (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Categorically Imperative on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:03:49 AM EST
    Not just because of his position on Iraq here, but for his longstanding press credentials and sustained domestic policy focus on what I think are some of the most critical issues facing the country, specifically education and economic policy.  I really wish he could get some more traction but is stuck in neutral while Obama, Clinton, and Edwards suck up all the air in the room.

    Personally, I'm keeping an open mind but right now Obama is really disappointing me.  His milquetoast position on Iraq seems of a piece with his run to the center in the Senate, which is clearly and demonstrably NOT the kind of "leadership" we need right now.

    Bleh.  I'm not holding my breath waiting for any of our candidates to either support Reid-Feingold or come up with a legitimate withdrawal plan of their own.  Oh, for Russ to still be in the race...

    Heh (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Categorically Imperative on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:04:47 AM EST
    "Press" credentials = "progressive credentials.  Missed my coffee this morning.

    I wondered about that! (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:09:25 AM EST
    I'm brewing another pot. Have a virtual cup.

    "Scylla and Charybdis" wins the contest (none / 0) (#42)
    by oculus on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 12:48:18 PM EST
    for enigmatic, though.

    I think you posted to the wrong thread (none / 0) (#44)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 01:27:52 PM EST
    I would think most people here would know the saying.


    I do now. (none / 0) (#45)
    by oculus on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 01:59:31 PM EST
    What about Imus? (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:10:44 AM EST

    Hey, I am supporting Dodd . . . for now.

    Edwards had the big night though I thought.


    Imus (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Categorically Imperative on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:36:07 AM EST
    Probably true re: Edwards, though I think the lack of support for Reid-Feingold is a big hole in his position.  Somewhat easier for him to deliver the rhetoric, since he is not in the Senate, than it is for Clinton, Obama, Dodd, and Biden.  That's why I find Dodd's stance so meaningful.  

    Not that I'm saying it ought to be tough for anyone to take a stand that is supported by the majority of Americans and is, beyond that, clearly right on both moral and practical grounds.  I only mean to say that we have to take Edwards at his word regarding what Congress ought to do, the rest we can judge by their actions.  Dodd's the only one to step up on that score.


    Russ NOT in the race is better (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:14:35 AM EST
    Look at the gigantic work he has done on getting us out of Iraq.

    No, he did the right thing, for us, if not for him.


    Maybe (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Categorically Imperative on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:30:46 AM EST
    Don't see why he/we can't have it both ways...being a Pres. candidate would arguably make it that much easier for him to get his point across.  Certainly it gives him an automatic forum to be heard, given the media's obsessive coverage of the presidential "race" (such as it is, a year out from the primary).

    Maybe I'm wrong, and fundraising/baby kissing would have proven to be a significant distraction diverting Feingold's attention, but I don't peg him as that type of person and figure he'd step up on pushing policy even while campaigning.


    No (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:32:25 AM EST
    It is about working Reid.

    As a PResidential candidate, Reid would not have engaged his plan.


    Good call (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Categorically Imperative on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:37:59 AM EST
    Hadn't thought of it in those terms, and you're probably right.  Something major happened, because as good as Reid has generally been as Majority Leader, he has seldom been in front of a bill like this.

    yeah, right (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by cpinva on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:18:30 AM EST
    except of course, for one minor, but compelling detail: the democrats own only a slim majority in both houses. hillary's correct, absent republican support, the war goes on, regardless of any yelling by the democrats.

    so, while everyone else is patting themselves on the back, for a bill that won't pass, effectively doing nothing, she's doing the heavy lifting of trying to get true bi-partisan support, for a bill that will survive a sure presidential veto.

    that's called realism, as opposed to fantasy. you want the troops out of harm's way? good, put the pressure on some of the less ideologically set republicans, those who actually want to get re-elected in 2008, and see bush for what he is: a lame duck loser.

    it's harder work than grandstanding for the tv cameras, but it will actually save lives.

    Effectively doing nothing (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by Categorically Imperative on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:41:12 AM EST
    The Dems' bill funds the troops with a deadline for withdrawal.  If Bush won't sign it, then the war is de facto defunded, and the troops leave that much sooner.

    Bush can rant and rave that we're not funding the troops, etc., but that dog won't hunt this time.  It's his veto that's stopping the funding, and the Democratic bill does two things Americans want: funds the troops and sets a timetable for bringing them home.  GOP opposition to that bill is lose/lose.

    WHY should the Dems concede ground to an opposition that has no negotiating leverage?


    Exactly (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by Edger on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:46:10 AM EST
    WHY should the Dems concede ground to an opposition that has no negotiating leverage?

    Zactly, and the war machine (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:53:38 AM EST
    isn't holding up so well and that isn't due to anything the Democrats have done.  It's just about time to have to find some real solutions, even if you are playing in your own cowboy fantasy.  The most affective have applications on as many fronts as they can and we must end this horrible thing in Iraq and stop loitering.

    You have no paid attention (4.50 / 2) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:26:29 AM EST
    And I will not go through it again for you.

    NOT FUNDING does not require passing anything.

    But you will ignore this everytime we discuss this.

    It is pointless discussing it with you.


    Yes. And that would be ideal ... (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by Meteor Blades on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 10:43:42 AM EST
    ...but, practically speaking, the Blue Dogs (and I will wager some other Dems as well) will not allow there to be no bill regarding funding. They see that as too damaging to them among the voters. Whether that assessment is true or not is difficult to discern. Certainly the polls favor withdrawal. But when it gets to specifics, it all depends on how the Administration spins it, and how many voters swallow it. Fewer than in 2003 and 2004, for sure.

    At any rate, I don't think Feingold-Reid will pass, more's the pity. That's why I support, as I wrote this morning at Daily Kos, adding the Murtha train-rest-equip provisions to the next funding bill that will inevitably, imo, be sent to Bush IF he vetoes whatever ocmes out the conference committee later this month. So the next bill would be three months worth, with Murtha provisions and withdrawal timetables. Not because I disfavor defunding, on the contrary, but rather because we're going to lose the defunding fight, and we need a fallback unless we're willing to wait until 2009 to stop the occupation.

    A key advantage of Murtha  is that it means the splurge stops dead because troops that aren't properly trained, equipped and rested wouldn't be able to be sent (or re-sent) to Iraq, and, conceivably, many of those now there would have to come home because they don't have the right equipment or training and they've been extended more than once.

    So, Murtha #2 means withdrawal begins the day it passes. Unlike Feingold-Reid, it doesn't wait 120 days. And it has the potential to be veto-proof if the Dem leadership frames it correctly. And Murtha #2 starts a withdrawal that leads,I think, to Murtha Plan #1, a withdrawal within 4-6 months, which is about as fast as logistically possible.

    The Murtha Plan, on the other hand, could [get enough votes to make up a veto-proof majority]. It has appeal for the guys with semper fi pasted on their bumpers as well as those of us with Out Now! symbols stuck on ours. (There should be, in fact, no reason a bumper can't have both.)

    My take on that how to make Murtha work:

    A targeted selection of Senators and Representatives who object to the Murtha Plan could be verbally ambushed in public forums in their home districts: Sir (or ma'am, as the case may be), do you think we should send exhausted soldiers back to Iraq before they have rested? You do? Should National Guardsmen be sent to fight without adequate training? They should? Do Marines deserve to have adequate armor and other equipment when they are sent to stand in the middle of somebody else's civil war? They don't? Put together a dozen or so of these Q&As up as YouTube videos (or ads in the mainstream media). And then let's see these elected officials try to argue what great patriots they are.

    Any politician who is willing to ship American fighting women and men off to war (any war) without training them, equipping them and making sure they have enough downtime between combat assignments is a scoundrel. Yes, you Blue Dogs, if you're one of these, then I mean you, too.

    I have no problem with Murtha 2 (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 11:17:14 AM EST
    But at the end of the day NOT funding the Debacle is what it is going to take to END the Debacle.

    The beauty of Reid-Feingold is it sets the date when the Debacle ends.

    The American People want that. LEt the choice be binary. Let's see the Blue Dogs run on continuing the Debacle if they think that works for them. I am confident they will see the light.


    I have learned in this life to be very (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 11:28:52 AM EST
    careful about what my stated goals are.  If my goal is to end the Iraq War and there is a set date that is my goal........the other guys have a really hard time framing a fight against me  without looking like their goal is just never ending war.  When my goal is to make it harder for Bush to find enough bodies to fight this war with all he has to do is find enough bodies and that is really really scary because they already have been using privatized forces....now they just need more of them and don't think for a minute they haven't been trolling for those hires already.

    I only worry about one thing with the Murtha (none / 0) (#35)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 11:14:19 AM EST
    plan, more mercs being used instead of U.S. troops.  With plenty of funding the door leading to soldiers of fortune is wide open with or without our own soldiers.  I have heard too many mercenary horror stories to not be terrified by that proposition.

    Knowing Bush (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:21:01 AM EST
    defunding would be a first step towards a constitutional crises. Bush does not seem to think he is subject to the constituion.

    Bush would shift spending from other areas and dare someone to stop him.

    It really can't be done like that (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:24:56 AM EST
    The shifting? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Edger on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:27:12 AM EST
    Yep (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:29:45 AM EST
    150 billion dollars of shifting is impossible.

    Well when you put it that way (the numbers)... (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:32:00 AM EST
    Even if he tried during a showdown (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by Edger on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:34:47 AM EST
    it would look like attempted bank robbery in front of a police squad with drawn guns, no?

    Eh (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by Categorically Imperative on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:43:30 AM EST
    Just put it on a pallet, wrap it in plastic, and let Paul Bremer send it somewhere.  No one will ever know what happens to it.

    Bank robbery (none / 0) (#38)
    by Edger on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 11:40:02 AM EST
    Iraq Occupation Funding - Bush And Pentagon Cooking The Books?
    A damning report issued last month by the nonpartisan research arm of Congress says the Department of Defense continues to overstate its financial needs, by tens of billions of dollars, to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The agency also casts serious doubt on President Bush's statements that money to fund the war will dry up by the end of the month if his budgetary demands are not immediately met.

    The 45-page report, "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," prepared for Congress by the Congressional Research Service, warned lawmakers that before they release additional funds to the Pentagon for the Iraq war, they should first demand that Defense Department officials provide an accurate accounting of how the money is being spent.

    Since 2001, the Pentagon has grossly mismanaged the $510 billion spent thus far on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; has used money earmarked for equipment upgrades to finance fighting on the battlefield, and has refused to provide Congress with a transparent accounting of the money it has spent and intends to spend, according to the CRS report.

    Can you say off the book accounts (none / 0) (#40)
    by TexDem on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 12:08:57 PM EST
    As some have stated here the concern is not just US soldiers and Marines, but mercs. With significant amounts of funds unaccounted for, one can visualize the lessons of Iran-Contra learned and the funds to continue the war with mercs is a real possibility.

    Maybe too tinfoil for some, but something that should be looked into.


    The Hershman (none / 0) (#41)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 12:12:54 PM EST
    has made some insinuations that some of those inflated costs have found there way into some black bags!   Hmmmmmmm, everybody needs to be real careful about giving dollars to Cheney for ANYTHING......we will need receipts you bald sneaky evil incubus!

    That would be the showdown (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Edger on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:26:36 AM EST
    that's really needed.

    It is infuriating (5.00 / 4) (#16)
    by andgarden on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:29:10 AM EST
    that Obama doesn't think he has to have a specific answer to this question.

    The audacity (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by Categorically Imperative on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 10:02:58 AM EST
    of empty rhetoric.  Catch the Obamamania!

    Isn't his answer that he has his own bill? n/t (none / 0) (#33)
    by cal11 voter on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 10:44:14 AM EST
    His own bill (none / 0) (#34)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 10:48:45 AM EST
    is not even a blip on the radar screen.

    Nor does it deal with the issue at hand, funding the Debacle.


    Sen. Clinton wants you to elect her President. (5.00 / 4) (#26)
    by cal11 voter on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:46:03 AM EST
    Then, she'll end the Iraq War.  Would Clinton say that she will need Republican support to end the War then?  If she would move to end it then regardless of Republican support, why can't she move to end it now regardless of Republican support?  Same applies to Obama.  The only way to end the war now is to end the funding.  Just ask Broder.

    She was (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by Edger on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:50:42 AM EST
    That's what I want for President :( (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:58:03 AM EST
    Someone who will show me that she has morals, ethics, leadership capabilities, and a heart and soul after I give her everything she wants.  This has been the solid ground that many relationships from hell have been built on.....I only like to be a spectator to those relationships, not a participant!

    It may be that Speaker Pelosi is the key. (none / 0) (#39)
    by walt on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 12:06:51 PM EST
    All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives.

    If Madame Speaker does not bring up a bill that funds the occupation of Iraq, the whole issue is moot.  If she tables all such legislation, then nothing can happen.  She can stop everything.

    I agree, generally, with BigTent that the correct methodology to end the occupation is to defund by inaction.  Mrs. Pelosi can impose that.

    So can Reid. n/t (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by andgarden on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 01:11:12 PM EST
    I think you're correct. (none / 0) (#46)
    by walt on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 06:00:33 PM EST
    Even if the House reports out a bill, Reid can choose not to bring it out on the floor of the Senate.  And he can clearly prevent any bill from coming up in the Senate, itself.

    It's beginning to appear as if Bu$h xliii wants to play bluff poker even though Pelosi & Reid already know they hold all the cards.  I've written this often, and it looks very probable: the Bu$hInc gang of thugs truly does not understand the legislative process.  I don't think Rove even knows that they are about to be punked from about 5 or 6 directions.