Providing Unneccessary Cover?

In an interesting case of how Democrats and Progressives seem to keep getting our messages crossed, Stilwell over at the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog has, in my opinion, completely mis-fired over the January 12, 2007 editorial over at the Seattle Times

In his post, "Twisted into Pretzels," Stilwell takes the Times to task for challenging the new Democratic majority to act rather than stand on grand "gestures" of protest over Bush's proposed escalation of the mess in the Middle East. In response to the Times' admonition that,

" Political arm-waving and high-profile votes on nonbinding resolutions and other artfully worded parliamentary expressions of opposition are worthless. They do not inform the public about the nature of the president's military escalations, and more importantly they do nothing to turn off the flow of dollars that keep the administration's disastrous mission alive." he says, "That's rich. That stupid Constitution and all, you know. And I wonder who would be the first to excoriate Democrats should they field a resolution that doesn't pass Constitutional muster?"

Needless to say, I am totally onboard with the Times on this matter. As one who soundly criticized their endorsement of GW in 2000 and their complicity in the build up to the Iraq debacle in the first place, I have watched with keen interest their evolution toward their current "out of Iraq" editorial policy. As if pre-emptively addressing Stilwell's concern about things not passing "Constitutional muster", the editorial in question says,

" Parsing out a role for the congressional power of the purse will not be easy. No one wants to undercut the military men and women already in the field, and on organizational and financial levels, the president's call for more troops blends new units and extends others. If it is complicated to mulch through the budget process, well, too bad. Get to work." It's almost as if Stilwell is setting up an escape clause for Democrats who do not want to confront the task before them. The copy of the Constitution that I use (apparently it's like the bible - everyone has their own interpretation) it is indeed the congress that has the authority to assemble and regulate the armed forces and it is certainly the duty of the congress to appropriate the monies for such purposes.

Let there be no mistake, this is no time to let the Democrats off the hook over this vital responsibility. As put forward by the Times,

" Democrats were elected to confront the president's grievous war. They are not allowed a news cycle of snappy quotes only to plead legislative complexity in confronting the financial mechanisms that extend the war."

Progressives should not be divided over this issue. Rather, we should be leading the charge to help our newly elected majority do the job they were sent there to do.

Chad (The Left) Shue

< Stealing Farmlands in Snohomish County | Federal Way School Board Bans Al Gore's Movie >
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One aspect of it is that this administration still claims, to the best of my knowledge, that the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional.

So I can easily envision a situation where Democrats pass something, and the administration claims the power of the "unitary executive."

Now, whether it will come to that, I don't know. But obviously I have a substantially different (and more cynical) view than you of the Times motivations here. As I mentioned in my post, they let Dave Reichert off the hook on this and during the campaign they let Mike McGavick off the hook too.

The horns of the dilemna are that we can't cut off money for "troops in the field," of course. Or at least that's how I see it.

I'm not "setting up an escape clause" for Democrats, Chad, I'm trying to figure out how this will work, both politically and legally. Our entire Democratic delegation is pretty united on this and has been pretty clear in its negative reaction to the escalation, so I saw The Times editorial as just another case of them using a double standard against Democrats.

Peace to you too, Chad.

Jon DeVore
aka stilwell

by Jon DeVore on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 02:43:50 PM PST

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I am reading with great interest the exchange here and what looks to me like authentic dialogue on what Congress can and cannot do constitutionally; the immediate funding impact on our deployed troops and de-funding the continuation of Iraq war via escalation; the long term question of escalation to extend to Iran.

Thanks to those of you for sharing and your courage in expressing your thoughts, less the usual blinded by partisan loyalty rhetoric. For myself, I am not at all convinced that the newly elected Democratic majority will be the hoped for 'saviors' using the power of the purse imbued to them in winning the majority. I also don't want to use stock rhetoric attriburted to the 'peace movement' at this critical time.  I'm reflecting carefully on the situation.  Which is why I am appreciating the discussion and valuing the authentic efforts in this thread.  

'Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? ~ Abraham Lincoln

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