Monday, February 05, 2007



The American people clearly want this war in Iraq ended. And they want it ended now. And that doesn't mean they just want to stop the McCain Escalation. That was the over-riding message I took away this evening from a call Russ Feingold did with bloggers after the Republicans blocked a debate on Iraq today. Oh... and that it isn't only Republicans and right-wing Democrats like Ben Nelson dragging their feet on this. In fact, Russ told us the Inside-the-Beltway consultants (the old Clinton crowd) supported this war and know now they made a mistake of great historical proportions. They "don't want to come out of this with egg on their faces" and "they are setting the parameters of the debate"-- and Democratic senators are still listening to them.

Yep, the man best qualified to be president of the United States, but who decided not to join the crowded field-- which even includes a pygmy like Joe Biden-- basically reinforced what I was afraid of: "The people of this country want this war over." And referring to the Inside-the-Beltway power-brokers, he said "It is us against them... There is consensus to end this war everywhere but in Washington. And people don't want us to slow-walk this."

What Russ said is needed now is a clear direction from Democrats so public pressure will build and effect change. "This is not a time to finesse the situation." And finessing the situation is exactly what he feels the Warner-Levin bipartisan, nonbinding symbolic resolution is. "It's loaded with language that blocks-- or at least makes more difficult-- the logical next steps" as well as endorses escalation in al-Anbar Province. To Senator Feingold the Warner-Levin resolution "looks more like a reauthorization or more like the Gulf on Tonkin Resolution" than something he could support. "Let's support binding legislation to end the war.

He told us that too many of his colleagues are "afraid of criticism from the White House... They're trying to have it both ways... People who know better are trying to take the easy way out." He recalled that he had introduced legislation 2 years ago that called for a 15 month timeline for ending the way. It would have been over last year. "Now even Hillary Clinton is talking about a timeline." And now Senator Feingold has moved to the next step-- the Iraq Redeployment Act of 2007. Be sure to catch Russ with Olbermann tonight; although I doubt he'll be wearing the Superman outfit.

UPDATE: Check the Bradblog coverage of the same call.


One of Senator Feingold's with-it staffers, Zach, just sent me the actual transcript of the Senators remarks that he used to start this evening's conversation. I hope you'll find them as powerful as I did.

Thanks everybody for participating. You know I went out again this weekend, in the very cold Wisconsin weather, just as I did in the previous two weekends, and I went to some of the most rural, Republican towns in the state and held town meetings. And you know this attitude about what should be done in Iraq is a consensus…everywhere but in Washington. People do not want us to just slow walk this, they don’t want us to just worry about the escalation, they want us to get out of Iraq. 
So I am determined to support whatever will help us end this mistake quickly and in an orderly and safe manor. I'm also determined to oppose things that I think will slow that down or that will lock in the status quo. And that’s exactly why I think the Warner proposal is unacceptable.  In terms of the test I just gave you, I supported Biden and Dodd in committee. The Biden thing didn’t do nearly what I wanted. To me as a first step it was harmless and maybe a little bit helpful. But it just simply said, look we should not do this escalation.  Fine, we can agree on that. The problem with this Warner thing is that it is loaded with language that blocks in my view, or at least makes much more difficult, the only logical next steps. 
One provision basically says this cannot be taken to mean we cannot start withdrawing the troops at this point or anytime in the near future. Another provision talks about a robust, in effect surge approach, in Al Anbar province, which is a formula for disaster. We are losing most of our people in Al Anbar province. People forget that this is really two different wars.  This whole thing about a civil war and sectarian violence is an issue in Baghdad.  Al Anbar is an attempt to try to subdue an insurgency with a huge supply of ground troops. It's not going to work. And yet the Warner (resolution) explicitly endorses that kind of an escalation at this time. 
And then there’s also a provision that attempts to throw roadblocks at any attempt by Congress to use the power of the purse, which is an entirely constitutional and appropriate step for us to consider at this point. So those who want to support Warner, it's understandable because they want to make some points vis-à-vis Bush. There’s the temptation of defeating Bush on something he has put out there. I understand that.  But it's incredibly short sighted, it’s going for some kind of political point instead of getting at the heart of this matter. Who was thinking about whether or not to escalate in Iraq on November 7th? That wasn’t the issue. The issue that determined that election was whether we should be in Iraq at all. The answer was no. 
So we should not sign onto something that in my view, looks almost like a reauthorization of what’s going on right now. It is incredibly weak, even dangerous, and I think reminds me more of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution than it does of a resolution that really gets us out of the situation. 
I am really troubled by the attempt of not only Republicans but leading Democrats to essentially finesse the situation we’re in right now. This is not a time to finesse the situation, this not a time to slow-walk. This almost reminds me a little bit of the way Democrats behaved in October of 2002 which was trying to play it safe, trying to use words such as, "well, we’re going to vote for this resolution but what it really means is that the president should go to the U.N." That stuff doesn’t fly. And this kind of an attempt to go a little bit of the way just to show you’re on the other side of the President doesn’t fly either. 
What we need now is a strong position to get out of this situation. That's what I have proposed in a bill and we have also offered an amendment to this item that is in theory before the Senate now, which would basically strike the provisions that I just talked about, that were harmful. It's already been cosponsored by two of the most distinguished and senior members of the Senate-- Senator Leahy and Senator Dodd. So the three of us have introduced this amendment that says, look, you can't have language in this Warner thing that says you can’t start withdrawing troops. It says you can't have language that talks about a surge in Al Anbar province, and you can’t have language that says we can’t consider reducing the funding.  So this is an important moment to see if we’re really going to try to end this war and frankly I'm disappointed that democrats are playing it too safe on this.



At 5:54 PM, Anonymous anyoneanywhere said...

I watched and couldn't agree with Russ more. Then again, I've agreed with Russ almost every step of the way. At least HE is staying true to his beliefs. Why can't the rest of the politicians be honest?

I wonder how many of these politicians realize how UGLY they are in their quest for mediocre performance and transparent power grab? UGH

At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More than 3,000 military families from Military Families Speak appreciate it everytime Russ speaks out. Bring our troops home!

At 6:39 PM, Blogger TeddySanFran said...

Russ made the very excellent point that when Americans voted the GOP out of office in November, there was no SURGE. Voters wanted to end the WAR, not the SURGE.

Senate Democrats must be made to see things Russ' way -- which is the American Way!

At 7:53 PM, Blogger Jimmy the Saint said...

Russ is the man, but I also want to give props to his staff. They are a great group. Russ was giving a speech here in Philly. I heard through the grapevine about it but it wasn't publicly announced. I called him DC office, and was told I needed to talk to his scheduler. I left a message, and within a day, I received a call back filling me in on the details of when and where. And I'm not even a constituent. His office treated me better than my senators.

At 11:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is why we, the netroots and blog community cannot let Hillary get the nomination. Because we have finally started taking the party back from the claws of the DLC. It's these types who are the democrats that Russ Feingold was talking about. Your Clintons, liebermans, Rahms, and that whole crowd from the 90s. they almost destroyed us. And they are still whispering in the democrats ears and the same wrong garbage as always.
We must not let it happen.
We must follow Russ and make sure the true democrats like Dean and Feingold are the champions and not allow a Clinton nomination.

At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at a Liberally Drinking event last night, and I was astounded that so many of the people there were still speaking from the mindset of the Washington elites and how we couldn't just leave Iraq. Granted, I'm in the south, and it's quite conservative here, but the amount of apprehension concerning ending the war was surprising amongst so many Democrats. We have to get the message out there about what the VOTERS said in the last election. We want the war ended, not escalated, slowed down, but ended, now.

At 9:09 AM, Anonymous TomSongs said...

Excellent information here!

At 12:23 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Russ is right. The Dems are just playing CYA rather than doing what the people voted for in November.

At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dream ticket would be a Feingold Kucinich ticket. Perhaps Webb could be replace one or the other.

Unfortunetely it is nothing more than a dream.


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