On the day that the Pentagon announced the 2,500th U.S. death in Iraq, Republicans in Congress played partisan games to jam Democrats, silence critics within their own party and generally stifle debate about the war.
As Michael Scherer reports in Salon today, the House of Representatives spent the day Thursday engaged in a sham debate over a resolution that rejects any timetable for a troop withdrawal and says that the United States "will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the noble struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary." Although there were many from which to choose, AMERICAblog may have caught the low point of the day: the moment when Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, standing on the House floor, argued that we'd all be "speaking Japanese or German" if Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha had carried the day in Congress during World War II.
Note to the Los Angeles Times: When the House leadership prohibits all amendments on a take-our-side-or-vote-against-America resolution, it is really fair to lead your piece with the claim that "Republican leaders officially convened a full-scale debate over the war"?
The Senate did its work in a slightly more dignified fashion, but the end result was pretty much the same. John Kerry has introduced an amendment calling for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq -- except those needed to train Iraqis -- by the end of 2006. Rather than allow Kerry time to build support for his amendment, Republicans put it up for an immediate floor vote in order to jam nervous Democrats.
It worked. Although the latest Gallup poll has 49 percent of the public saying that all U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Iraq either immediately or by June 2007, the Kerry amendment went down in a lopsided, 93-6 vote. Only Sens. Barbara Boxer, Robert Byrd, Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, Ted Kennedy and Kerry himself voted in favor of it.
Correction: The Republicans' gamesmanship on Kerry's proposal was even more egregious than we initially suggested. Although Kerry had announced his intention to introduce his Iraq amendment, he hadn't actually done so when the Republicans put it up for a vote Thursday; he had merely "filed" the amendment, a procedural step which generally leaves a senator free to revise, rework or abandon his or her proposal before deciding to bring it up for consideration in the Senate. As the New York Times explains it, Sen. Mitch McConnell took the proposal, "scratched out Mr. Kerry's name, replaced it with his own and offered it for debate."