Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Depends on the meaning of the word "bipartisan", plus a House Resolution parody

An analysis of Clintonesque word-parsing by Stuart Rothenberg:
Moments after the House voted against President Bush's additional deployment of troops to Iraq - the so-called surge, if you are for it or trying to be neutral, or the so-called escalation, if you are opposed to it - House Democrats sent out a flurry of e-mails crowing about the "bipartisan" support for it.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel's release was titled, "Emanuel Statement on Bipartisan Approval of Iraq Resolution," while House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's was headlined an only slightly different, "Bipartisan Majority in U.S. House Votes Against the President's Plan to Escalate the War in Iraq."

On the House floor, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, staying true to her party's talking points, also referred to the resolution as "bipartisan."

In fact, support for the Iraq resolution was bipartisan only in the technical sense that the vote on the resolution was not completely along party lines. But it was awfully close to that, and referring to the final vote as bipartisan has more to do with Democratic strategy and nervousness than reality.

Only 17 Republicans - or 8.4% of GOP House members - joined 225 Democrats in voting for the resolution, while over 90% of Republicans opposed passage of the resolution. Republicans constituted just 7% of the 242 House members who supported the resolution. Only two House Democrats voted with 185 Republicans against the resolution. (Using Pe-loose-screw's "logic", doesn't the fact that two Democrats voted against the resolution mean that the vote against the resolution was also "bipartisan"? - Ed.)

Democrats had enough votes to pass the resolution without any GOP support, and given national polls showing widespread dissatisfaction with the Bush policy, just 17 Republican votes for the resolution is stunningly small, and little or no indication of a bipartisan consensus.

Clearly, the vote on the resolution was very much partisan, though with a handful of defections. We can argue over what would constitute a truly bipartisan vote, but 92% of Republicans voting against something and 99% of Democrats voting for it surely doesn't come close to passing the threshold. By insisting, whether in a press release, in statements on the floor or in interviews after the fact, that the vote was bipartisan, Democratic leaders look silly. (Remember when former Congressman James Traficant (D-OH) was the only Democrat in the House to vote for Dennis Hastert (R-IL) to be Speaker? Could the GOP have argued that Hastert's election to House Speaker was a "bipartisan" vote? - Ed.)

But if the vote was overwhelmingly partisan, why don't Democrats just say so? What's the big deal?

The likely answer is that Democrats are trying so hard to avoid allowing Republicans to label their criticism as merely partisan that they won't even acknowledge the obvious. Instead, they are looking for any opportunity to portray their opposition to the President's policies as part of the nation's dissatisfaction with the administration's Iraq policy.

While that's understandable - one of the few ways Democrats could screw up during the next year and a half would be to appear to be basing their opposition on possible political gain and a petty desire to punish Bush politically - there is no indication that Democrats have been too aggressive in criticizing the President or his policies so far.

In fact, a partisan division over the war probably would help Democrats by further damaging the Republicans between now and next year's Presidential election. After all, if it isn't merely President Bush, but also his entire party, that supports the war and ignores public opinion, Democrats would seem to benefit.

Obviously there are a handful of high profile Republicans who have opposed the Bush policy in Iraq for a considerable time - most notably Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska in the Senate and Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina in the House - and a number of GOP members of Congress have over the past couple of months sounded increasingly critical of Bush policies.

But the House vote demonstrates that Republicans still have not left the President's ship, even though it clearly seems to be sinking, and Democrats ought not be so wedded to their talking points' emphasis on bipartisan opposition to the war that they refer to a "bipartisan resolution" that clearly was nothing of the sort.
Considering that the House worked really hard on telling us their opinion instead of governing (an act of grandstanding), it should surprise no one that the Dems are giving us this dog-and-pony show called "bipartisanship" to go along with their vote to...do nothing.

Well, thanks to our friends at The Nose on Your Face, we see the real motivation behind the Dems' House resolution:
Publicly, the text of today’s Congressional rejection of the troop surge in Iraq appeared to be a simple 2 point resolution:

1. Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honourably in Iraq; and

2. Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W Bush announced on January 10 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

TNOYF has learned, however, that Congress included several additional points to the resolution that were not shared with the media. They are:

3. Congress asserts that, while Points 1 and 2 might appear to be contradictory, they are, in fact, not. To the soldiers in Iraq who ask how this is possible, Congress replies, it is a highly complicated, multi-layered issue which your lack of education makes it difficult for you to understand. (Thanks, John Kerry! - Ed.)

4. Congress understands that they are voting against the reinforcements wanted by the tired, exhausted mercenaries troops in Iraq. Congress wants the troops in Iraq to know that less soldiers means more extravagant perks for the soldiers already there. Congress once again shows that they support the troops. Congress requests a rousing ”Boo-Ya.”

5. Congress understands that this resolution may create feelings of sadness and underappreciation among the 20,000 troops that have been called upon for this effort. Congress wants those troops to know that they should not feel this way. Congress would prefer that they feel uncertain and confused.

6. Congress would like to give a “shout out” to the Iraq insurgency.

7. Congress understands that should the tide turn in the War in Iraq and the United States complete its mission, anyone who voted for this resolution is going to have some splainin’ to do. That is why Congress has decided that this resolution is non-binding.
Bookmark The Nose on Your Face now, or I'll have to call you names...like "you're French"!

Labels: ,