What did voters vote for?

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on April 4, 2007

On Tuesday, President Bush held a press conference in which he took the Democrat Congress to task for its failure to pass a supplemental war funding bill without unconstitutional infringements on the commander-in-chief's power or political pork.

Democrats, obviously, were unimpressed and urged Bush to sign the still unreconciled House-Senate bill anyway.

This political kabuki dance will likely result in a delayed appropriation for the war and suffering on the part of the military overseas and their families here in the United States. It will be interesting to see the media spin when that occurs -- whether it is a replay of the GOP shutdown of the government during the Clinton administration or what then-House speaker Newt Gingrich and his cohort had hoped for with the chief executive being blamed.

What I've found most interesting about this debate in recent days is certain claims by the out-of-Iraq-now caucus on what exactly the midterm election meant.

As she traveled through Iowa, [Sen. Hillary] Clinton said she had launched a petition drive through her campaign Web site calling on Bush not to veto legislation now pending in Congress that, for the first time, would establish deadlines for the U.S. involvement in Iraq. "Mr. President," she said, "don't veto the will of the American people."

Is a quick pullout from Iraq what voters voted for in 2006? It's safe to say that the 2006 election was a rebuke to President Bush's management of the war. But were voters urging an pull-out and cut off of funds with their votes for Democrats or were they trying to shake Bush out of his "stay the course" rhetoric and signaling that the status quo was a no-go? Was Bush's decision to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and implement the troop surge the change that the public was demanding?

I would argue that it was more of the latter than the former, and that a majority of Americans are hoping and praying that the so-called surge works. But don't take my word for it (via National Review Online).

Sen Harry Reid (D-NV) :

"…I don't think anyone can find a war that this country was engaged in where the funds were cut off. No one is talking about cutting off the funds."

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) :

"I do not support cutting funding for American troops."

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) :

"We're not going to cut off funding to the troops … no one wants to do that."

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) :

"I don't know of any senator who would cut off funds for troops in the field."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) :

"I don't think we should be pulling back any funds."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA):

"Yes, the congress could cut off the funds. But the congress will not do that because our men and women are in harm's way."

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) :

"U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson ( D-FL ) today made clear his intention to oppose measures he sees as possibly undermining U.S. troops, like cutting funds... […] Nelson said today he'll oppose efforts to cut off funding."

If this was the rhetoric Democrats were using during and after last year's election, then I don't see how these statements can be reconciled with ones like this:

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid yesterday endorsed the Senate's toughest antiwar bill yet, a bid to cut off funding within a year, sending a clear signal to President Bush that the Iraq debate will continue in Congress regardless of whether he carries through on his veto threats.

Whether or not the Democrats have overstepped their mandate will depend largely on the success (or lack thereof) of the troop surge in Iraq. If it's successful, then the Democrats will certainly lose the presidential race in 2008. Not a single Democrat candidate is even hedging their bets on Iraq; they're all betting on a U.S. loss.

That's the saddest statement from a party that produced FDR and JFK.


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April 2007



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