To Quin’s many fine ideas I would add a political component: From among the Senate Republicans who support a timetable, one or two should become either targets for primary challengers in 2008 or, if need be, targets for defeat by Democrats in the fall of 2008. Unfortunately there don’t appear to be any GOP wobblers who could be defeated in a primary, though there are least two –Senators Domenici and Smith of New Mexico and Oregon respectively– who could fall to a Democrat in the general election if even 10% of the GOP base defected from their cause.
It is crucial to not that neither Senator Domenici nor Senator Smith has yet crossed the political Rubicon that is support for date-certain defeat. Indeed, no GOP senator up for re-election has yet voted for a timetable that passed, and so the need doesn’t exist yet to organize other than a general boycott of the NRSC. But if enough Republicans defect to allow such a bill to pass, then the course is clear: I can’t support someone who doesn’t support victory. I suspect there are tens of thousands of Republican activists who feel the same way.
Some GOPers argue that working for the defeat of any Republican incumbent is never a good idea, especially if he or she votes the right way on some issues. I hold that view generally, and have supported senators like Arlen Specter over their conservative challengers because Senator Specter gets the big ones right. On the other hand I cheered for the defeat of Lincoln Chafee in ’06. Chafee’s defeat –even though the majority in the Senate went with him– is an argument for enforcing party loyalty on the two key issues of the war and SCOTUS nominees. We are better off with clarity as to who is in charge of this incompetent, defeatist Congress, a clarity that a Chafee re-election would have obscured. It’s Harry Reid’s Senate that has accomplished zero six months into it’s run, unless you want to count encouraging the enemy to persevere as an accomplishment.
Even if a GOP senator gets everything else correct, if their vote allows the war to be lost, I don’t know how a Republican activist can contribute to or work for their re-election. These senators may argue they are voting their conscience, but my conscience will demand that I at a minimum hope for their defeat as a clear expression of what the party expects on the key issue of our time. All of the GOP presidential candidates support the surge and a victory policy. The vast majority of Republicans do as well, and they believe very much that there is no alternative to winning in Iraq that leaves America safe and the jihadists defeated and without a new refuge. It is also a crucial part of the Republican platform to take the threat from iran very seriously and to agree with President Bush that Iran cannot be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. The tiny isolationist fringe within the GOP is loud but very small, and the demands for retreat from Iraq among Republicans is almost non-existent.
What GOP senators are doing is trying to placate some Democratic and independent voters, betting that their GOP voters will have no where else to go. This is a trend that has to be reversed, and the only way to reverse it is to send the very sharp message that on the war, there are no “free votes” if a defeatist bit of lawmaking is the result.
Contact the key GOP senators up for re-election in 2008 who have been reported to be wavering in recent weeks (though it isn’t necessarily so given the MSM’s agenda journalism):
Senator Lamar Alexander, Tenn: (202) 224-4944. E-mail link here.
Senator Norm Coleman, MN: (202) 224-564. E-mail link here.
Senator Pete Domenici, NM: (202) 224-6621. E-mail link here.
Senator Gordon Smith, OR: (202) 224-3753. E-mail link here.
Senator John Sununu, NH: (202) 224-2841. E-Mail link here.
Senator John Warner, VA: (202) 224-2023. E-mail link here.
There are three Democratic senators from red states who should also hear from the pro-victory voter:
Senator Max Baucus, MT: (202) 224-2651. E-mail here.
Senator Mary Landrieu, LA: (202) 224-5824. E-mail here.
Senator Mark Pryor: (202) 224-2353. E-mail here.
As Michael Yon and the New York Times’ John Burns have written in the last week, we are making great progress in these early days of the surge, and General Petraeus and the troops deserve the opportunity to not only succeed, but for the American public to understand they have succeeded.
UPDATE: Earlier today Senator Domenici was on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Here’s the exchange:
WB: Here’s what you said the other day. I ‘ll read it to you and make sure it is an accurate quote: “There’s nothing to wait for. Everybody that has any knowldge of the reports would indicate that the are not going to show any degree of a big change that we needed and we are just wasting tiome.” What do you mean “We are just wasting time?”
PD: This was put to me in light of “Why are you making this announcement today?” when I made it. “Can’t you wait a while to make it?” And I said there’s nothing to be gained from me, Senmator Pete Domenici, announcing my frustration and my willingness to change directions in this war. I’m not going to vote for any of the Democratic proposals that say we are getting out tomorrow or that we’re getting out next week. I’m waiting, but I am ready.
This just does not make any sense, and the anger growing with Republican ranks over the double-talk erupting in the Senate among Republican senators trying to have it both ways is going to rival that which was ignited by the immigration debate, but with even more profound consequences as the loss of the war will be an enormous blow to the country, and no one will forget the Republicans who assisted the Democrats in engineering that defeat if it comes to pass.
UPDATE: I spent most of today’s program taking calls only from active duty military or reservists or National Guardsmen who had served in Iraq, asking them for their reaction to Harry Reid’s “the surge has failed” declaration in the Senate today. With one exception they reject his characterization and resent the debate deeply, judging it to be ill-inofrmed and politically motivated. What is most disappointing about the collapse of seriousness in the Senate on the subject of the war is the collective indifference on the part of a majority (but not yet 60) senators to the facts on the ground in Iraq.
Listen for yourself here later tongiht. I start taking the calls in segment four of the first hour and they continue through the end of segment one of the third hour when I had a previously scheduled guest. They are powerful testimonies to the fact that coalition troops are winning and can prevail in Iraq if they are not undercut by the Reid-led Senate and Pelosi-led House.
One example of the utter and indefensible ignorance of the lawmakers: Yesterday Joe Biden shrilly declared that the war was breaking the army, and driving out its best warriors. Slow Joe has obviously not been reading up on the 101rst:
MOSUL, Iraq, July 5, 2003 — The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) celebrated America’s 227th birthday in grand style the Fourth at the division headquarters, located at the palace overlooking the banks of the Tigris River.
The Independence Day festivities culminated in a mass reenlistment ceremony, where 158 Screaming Eagles stepped forward, raised right hands in front of their fellow soldiers and swore to continue defending the Constitution of the United Sates.
“We say this is a great day or a great evening in the Army, and a great moment for that soldier, because the Army gets [better] every time a single soldier raises his or her right hand and agrees to stay in our ranks,” said Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division and Coalition Forces in Northern Iraq. “Tonight is a night that I think is unprecedented, and that is 158 great soldiers who will raise hands, take the oath and stay in our ranks for a number of more years.”
Read the whole thing. Then write and call these senators.