Waiting For John Warner

Last June, Frank Rich wrote:

As General Odom says, the endgame will start "when a senior senator from the president's party says no," much as William Fulbright did to L.B.J. during Vietnam. That's why in Washington this fall, eyes will turn once again to John Warner, the senior Republican with the clout to give political cover to other members of his party who want to leave Iraq before they're forced to evacuate Congress. . .

I wrote:

Not again. We wait for the Godot Republicans. John Warner will do NOTHING. John Warner will bring along few if ANY Republicans. As I wrote before, John Warner has undercut the drive to end the Debacle at every turn.

Today, Dana Milbank writes:

"I endorsed it," Warner said. "I intend now to cast a vote against it." With those dozen words, the former chairman of the Armed Services Committee put a surprise end to the latest efforts in Congress to limit the Iraq war.

Hey Frank! Told you so. More.

Milbank continues:

Webb was rather less pleased to discover that Warner had retreated from their shared foxhole. The White House "turned up the political heat, and that made people, like particularly Senator Warner, uncomfortable," he deduced.

And when did Webb learn of the betrayal? "Um," Webb replied, "he told me five minutes before the debate began this morning."

Webb should not have been surprised.

No, he should not have been. There has been one way to end the Iraq Debacle since January. Not funding it after a date certain. Waiting for the Godot Republicans was never going to work. "Ratcheting up the pressure" was never going to work. From Frank Rich to Move On to Congressional Democrats, the miscalculations on this point have been monumental and obvious. I hope now everyone sees what is as plain as day - the Godot Republicans are not coming:

Democrats and anti-war groups that are waiting for Republicans to move to end the Debacle now sound like this:
Vladimir: Well? Shall we go?

Estragon: Yes, let's go.
They do not move.

Clearly, Vladimir and Estragon are Democrats.

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    Webb Will Not Support Your Plan (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 11:23:56 AM EST
    BTD, a strong opponent of your approach to ending the occupation of Iraq, is Senator Webb.


    Secondly, let me say that I admire the intentions in the bill that my colleague Senator Feingold introduced earlier today. However, I could not vote for that bill, because an arbitrary cutoff date for funding military operations in Iraq might actually work against the country's best interests in an environment where we have, finally seen some diplomatic efforts from this administration. Recent initiatives from Secretary of State Rice, Ambassador Crocker, and Admiral Fallon, the new commander of the Central Command, hold out the hope, if not the promise, that we might actually start to turn this thing around. Admiral Fallon has publicly stated that we must deal with Iran and Syria. Ambassador Crocker at this moment is arranging a diplomatic exchange with Iran. Secretary of State Rice has cooperated at the ministerial level in an environment where her Iranian counterpart was also at the table. And importantly, Admiral Fallon mentioned during his recent confirmation hearing that it is not the number of troops in Iraq that is important, but the uses to which they would be put. There is room for movement here, as long as the movement occurs in a timely fashion. An arbitrary cutoff date would, at this point, take away an important negotiating tool. Let's just hope that they use the tools we are providing them in an effective manner.

    I wonder if he still thinks we can turn this thing around and that the Republicans are moving in the right direction.

    According to a comment (none / 0) (#8)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 11:29:37 AM EST
    [including a long quote] posted here in another thread, in Juan Cole's opinion, defunding isn't the answer.  Cole addresses the political backlash if defunding is successful.  But he seems to think defunding would be an ASAP pulling of the plug w/no advance warning.

    Blame The Dems (3.00 / 1) (#9)
    by MO Blue on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 12:22:10 PM EST

    The Republicans would blame every American death in Iraq on them from now to the election, on grounds of their 'irresponsibility.' They would be accused of being allies of 'al-Qaeda in Iraq,' helping kill US troops by defunding them in the face of a vicious enemy.

    There will not be any time in the decades to come that the Republicans will not blame every American death, every terrorist attack on the actions taken by Democrats to end the occupation of Iraq. Regardless of the action taken or not taken, they will be accused of being allies of al-Qaeda and not just in Iraq.

    If a Democratic President ends the occupation of Iraq, this situation will occur. The Republicans will loudly proclaim that any death that occurs prior to getting all the troops out is the result of Democratic action. Any terrorist activity in any part of the world will be blamed on the Democrats. They will loudly proclaim that the Dems support al-Qaeda and are the willing supporters of terrorists. There is no situation, including staying in Iraq forever, that will stop them from pursuing this course of action. This is what Republicans do and they will continue to do it.

    There will never be a time that ending the occupation will not be accompanied by some risk that the American public will believe the Republican propaganda and it will cost the Democrats elections. So to me the choice is clear. We can either take the risk during a time when the American people seem unwilling to buy into the Republican propaganda or we can stay in Iraq for the next 50 years no matter what it costs. Sign up for thousands upon thousands of American and Iraqi deaths and trillions of American dollars going down a black hole or take a risk on the American people.


    I respect Juan Cole (none / 0) (#15)
    by Warren Terrer on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 04:01:48 PM EST
    greatly as a ME expert. But as an observer of US domestic politics I think he's only average. He goes on to predict that the GOP will take a bath in the 2008 elections and a new Dem prez will move swiftly to draw down the troops, with most gone by 2009.

    Respectfully, I disagree. The main reason Dems are opposed to the war now is because it's going badly making it a good cudgel with which to hit Bush, not because they are against the war itself. Once the cudgel has served its purpose and brought a Dem to the WH in 2008, the temptation will be too great for that Dem prez to try his or her hand at winning the war, rather than be painted as the one who lost Iraq. Especially if that Dem is Hillary Clinton.

    I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt that I am. The US will be in Iraq for a long time to come.


    Strangely Enough (none / 0) (#17)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 09:37:03 PM EST
    Juan Cole is pretty conservative. He was for the war at first and now is not for defunding.

    He comes from a military family. His only problem is that he does not like Muslim bashing.  

    The warmongers hate that.


    How many times must some people... (none / 0) (#18)
    by Meteor Blades on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 02:20:41 AM EST
    ...hear that we might actually start to turn this thing around before they get a clue about what that really means? C'mon. Even Tom Friedman has run out of Friedman Units.

    I think, still, after all of this (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 10:05:30 AM EST
    it is impossible for some people to see that they will never come. I think Harry Reid may finally have figured it out. What that means for the next work period is unclear to me, though.

    With all the ammo (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dulcinea on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 10:36:01 AM EST
    the Democrats have to shoot the Republics with, they unfailingly trigger blanks.  

    Warner not running again suspicious (none / 0) (#3)
    by Saul on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 10:39:51 AM EST
    Food for thought.   I feel that there is more to Senator Warner's decision not to run again than meets the eye.  I think it might have gone something like this.  Warner  is a very influential republican on the hill.  He started showing his separation on the Iraq war since he was up for re election in 08.  Republicans are afraid that if he speaks against the war other republicans will listen and follow.  So the republican party and the admistration is  now  aware that Warner could be a super influential power against the president.   The party or the administration tells Warner, if you run you will upset the cart on how the rest of the republicans think on Iraq.  For the sake of the party and on how we think on the war just don't run. By doing this you would perform a greater service for your party and country than serving another term.  Either there was some pressure  by the party or the administration on Warner or Warner came to this thinking on his own.  I could be all wet and maybe Warner isn't running because he is  just plain tired. I would like to believe that but none of these guys do things for the right reason.  Just my 2 cents and my suspicion.  

    H certainly hope every obituary of Warner (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 10:55:16 AM EST
    features those crucial words.

    OT, but all you fans of football (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 11:05:53 AM EST
    and Godot will enjoy:

    Monday night football & Godot


    Warner shambled across the aisle to mess up Dems (none / 0) (#6)
    by Ellie on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 11:12:14 AM EST
    Just like Voinovich, just like McCain, just like any of his lying sack cohorts who spent weeks mushmouthing their "support" of rare forward momentum from the Dems only to yank it back at the eleventh hour and preen some moral values PR (DUH!) in front of the cameras.

    How much more forehead smackingly obvious does this play (in the alternate sense as Beckett at least bases his on a progressive vision) have to be before Dems start getting it?

    Warner's not their pal. The Rethugs aren't their pals. The media aren't their pals. "Moderate" Bush Dog Dems aren't their pals. Whispering AnonyMice concern trolls aren't their pals.

    Pretty soon their pals won't be their pals anymore either.

    We'll eventually leave, though (none / 0) (#10)
    by Ivyfree on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 12:57:58 PM EST
    When things like this happen, I immediately wonder what photos/videos/whatever the White House has on the people involved. So many people have spoken in opposition and suddenly they shut up.

    We'll get out of Iraq when the Green Zone is overrun by Iraqi freedom fighters. (They're freedome fighters, not insurgents, because they're fighting against a hostile occupation.) We'll see people being airlifted off roofs by helicopters.  

    We ought to plan the evacuation, bomb our installations as they're evacuated and that plushy billion dollar embassy.  We won't, though.  We're going to leave it for the Iraqis. I suppose they deserve it on account of our stupidity in starting/continuing this war/Administration.

    Yes we'll leave eventually (none / 0) (#12)
    by Warren Terrer on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 03:21:30 PM EST
    Just like the British eventually left India.

    According to a history of Burma I just (none / 0) (#16)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 04:13:14 PM EST
    finished reading, the British left Burma quite abruptly after WWII because they were having such problems feeding people at home, helping the economy recover from the war, and the military could not sustain being spread around so thinly.

    Unfortunately, it is not so (none / 0) (#11)
    by chemoelectric on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 03:14:35 PM EST
    I hope now everyone sees what is as plain as day - the Godot Republicans are not coming.

    Unfortunately, it is not so, as Randi Rhodes is a notable exception. Determined to hang onto the notion of a day-saving 'Republican' cavalry, she has become increasingly abusive of those who try to dissuade her.

    Mind you, I think it mistaken to present de-funding as a sufficient rather than just necessary condition of ending this debacle.

    Randi Rhodes has always been ... (none / 0) (#19)
    by Meteor Blades on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 02:22:22 AM EST
    ...quite abusive of anybody who disagrees with her or, worse, actually shows her to be factually mistaken.

    Hmm, Warner seems to have changed Randi Rhodes (none / 0) (#13)
    by chemoelectric on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 03:42:47 PM EST
    Randi Rhodes just said no appropriations except 'fully funded withdrawal'.

    more (none / 0) (#14)
    by chemoelectric on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 03:48:50 PM EST
    I should have added that she cited the fact that it takes only 40 Democrats to block funding in the Senate. This is the change, since before she spoke in terms of getting 'Republicans' on our side.

    Now she has to call the show and heap abuse on herself for bringing up de-funding as a politically acceptable alternative to coaxing 'Republicans'. :)