Pathetic antics of Defeatocrats

Robert Novak:

DEMOCRATIC senators this week will face trouble trying to cleanse themselves of the stain left by voting for President Bush's Iraq war resolution. Republican senators who have turned against U.S. military intervention in Iraq are not interested in bailing out Democrats by approving their proposal to repeal the authorization that Congress passed overwhelmingly in 2002.

As Congress returns this week from the year's first recess, authorization repeal is supposed to be attached to the bill containing homeland-security recommendations by the 9/11 Commission. But Sen. Norm Coleman, who has become prominent among Republican critics of Bush's war policy, told me from his home state of Minnesota that he would oppose the de-authorization and predicted no more than two GOP senators would vote for it.

One of those two Republican senators would have to be Chuck Hagel, who has fearlessly critiqued Bush war policy. But he told me from Nebraska that he would not be inclined to support repeal. If Hagel is lost, Democrats might fall short of the 50 senators necessary for final passage, much less the 60 senators necessary to close off debate.

George W. Bush may be an unpopular president fighting an unpopular war, but Democrats are finding it hard to make war policy from Capitol Hill.

Democrats do not cloak the political nature of their efforts. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, participating in a Nevada forum for Democratic presidential candidates last week, exultantly announced his intent to "revoke the president's authority that he was given . . . to go to war [cheers and applause]." The new mantra is not limited to presidential hopefuls from the Senate. On the New Hampshire campaign trail, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson called for de-authorization.


After checking with anti-war Republicans on recess last week, I found that several who'd favored a resolution rejecting Bush's policy are loath to give Democrats an Iraq get-out-of-jail-free card. An exception was Sen. Gordon Smith (Ore.), who indicated he might favor de-authorization but never would cut off funds. But Coleman told me: "I don't see us going back and rewriting history." And Hagel said: "We are not going back and rewind every decision we made."

Hagel's position is critical. Before the recess, Biden and Levin sought support from the conservative Nebraska Republican who had been one of only two Republicans supporting their tough non-binding resolution. Hagel long has been appalled by Bush's war policy, but he is rightly suspicious of Democratic ploys with no impact on dire conditions in Iraq.
Hagel is also finding out the political costs of going with the anti war puke caucus. He is getting serious heat at home in Nebraska. Perhaps he is also smart enough to recognize just how bad an idea the Defeatocrats are pushing. Anyone who thinks that Carl Levin and Joe Biden are better military strategist than Gen. David Petraeus needs to check into rehab with Britteny Spears.


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