Antiwar Crimes

I’ve made no secret of my opposition to the war in Iraq, even when that was a relatively lonely position to take. Recently, though, I have been inclined to think the Democrats dishonored the antiwar movement by loading so much pork-barrel spending onto the recent funding legislation passed by both houses of Congress – which, if you’ve been living on another planet for the last few weeks, is the legislation that includes a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. President Bush has been using this talking point fairly well lately, and his attack on the vote-buying nature of pork certainly resonates better with me than any defense he has ever made of the war itself.

Well, not so fast. According to yesterday’s Washington Post, this is not by any means the first time that pork-barrel spending has been loaded onto “emergency” funding measures for the war in Iraq. (BTW, how many years do you suppose the administration can get away with leaving this out of the budget and treating it as an “emergency” measure, as if the fighting just sort of flared up unexpectedly? But I digress.) The Post suggests that because non-germane spending has been attached to each of the preceding appropriations for Iraq, it is really a matter of opinion whether the pork in this bill is really designed to buy votes or is instead just a way of expediting appropriations that would otherwise be bottled up in the “normal” process that has grown so predictably slow and ineffective.

This is, of course, just another instantiation of the principle that what goes around comes around. In that respect, it is of a piece with the difficulties the Bush administration is now having with Congressional oversight: Whatever merit there may be in the Bush administration’s arguments about Congressional interference with executive function, the Democratic Congress has a very long way to go before it matches the record of Dan Burton and others when the GOP controlled Congress.

The sins of the GOP, however, are not a sufficient excuse for the Democrats, in this or any other case. Congress’s political standing to interfere with the administration’s war policy in Iraq is based entirely on the claim that if Congress does not support the war then neither does the nation. A vote on any question of that magnitude should not be tainted by the sort of legalized bribery that dominates legislative campaigns of less consequence. The funding bill should be stripped of any spending provisions that are not directly related to the support of troops in Iraq. It will then pass, timetable and all, or it will fail. If it fails, the Democrats should strip the timetable and vote again. Then and only then, we’ll know what the people, through their representatives, really want to do in Iraq.

All too often the administration has argued that citizens forget their patriotic duty when they oppose a war the President is prosecuting. The truth is that the President forgets his patriotic duty when he prosecutes a war the people are opposing. Let’s find out whether that’s what is happening.


2 Responses to “Antiwar Crimes”

  1. Timothy Peach Says:


    I think it’s going to be really interesting to see how all of this plays out politically. My view on this isn’t any more informed or subtle than any of my other views, but what I think is likely is this — the Dems are WAY overhandicapping the likelihood that the country’s distaste for Bush and the war in Iraq will spill over onto the Republican party in general. The hijacking of the Democratic Party by its most liberal elements has put them in a really difficult position — trying to walk the fine line between supporting the troops and hamstringing them financially. The average Red State voter doesn’t get it, and isn’t going to do any homework to get there.

    The “subtlety” of Pelosi’s position on all this will be largely lost on the voting public, and will easily be spun as unpatriotic and defeatist. It’s not going to be as easy for the Dems to pull the plug on a war and blame the other side as it was with Vietnam. Demographic trends are against them, the general tone of the nation is against them, and antiwar sentiment is contained to Bush’s blunders and is not generalized like is was back in the late 60’s/early 70’s.

    The Pelosi/Ried grandstanding on this funding bill is going to backfire on them. They should either have simply stood their ground and pushed for a categorical Congressional “veto” of the war — forcing Bush to continue overextending his presidential powers — or they should have given the army the money they needed, and left the timetable to the side. The place for the antiwar rhetoric is the bully pulpit. The Dems, whose secular weakness in my opinion lies largely with the impression that they are effete, do not understand that feigned resolve worse than no resolve at all.

    I think what we’re going to see in the fall of 2008 is not this grand “change in direction” that Pelosi and Reid believe they got a mandate for. What the nation really wants, generally, is Republicans that aren’t so deaf and dumb.

    Notice the absence of a certain defecatory term from this post. Your offline exhortations hit home. Apologies to all the readers here for my recent profanities. I’m told it is possible to be passionate without being vulgar. I’m trying that on an experimental basis.

  2. "Far More Complex" « Reasonable Minds Says:

    […] did not watch the President’s speech on his veto of the “emergency” funding bill for “Iraq,” but when I read the transcript a couple of points impressed me. I thought the President was […]

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