In a matter of hours, the House of Representatives will vote to oppose President Bush's plan to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq. Though the resolution does not carry the weight of law, the debate is still significant: This marks the first time that the US Congress has voted decisively against the Bush Administration's Iraq policy.
For once, Republicans find themselves in an uncomfortable place, on the defensive. Though a small band of GOP dissidents chose to vote with the Democrats, most Republicans stuck with the President. This week has not been the party's finest PR moment. You had members like Virgil Goode, now infamous for insulting Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison, likening critics of the war to "jihadists who want the Crescent and Star to wave over the Capitol," and replace the words "In God We Trust" on American money to "'In Muhammad We Trust."
Surely this is not the image the Republican Party, no matter how unpopular, wants to project. Democrats for their part, found some confidence in fighting off the GOP's argument that such a resolution would undermine the troops in the food. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio was particularly eloquent on this point. But both sides, as Chris Hayes wrote, needlessly fetishized the American solider, using the image as an excuse to hide behind our nation's lack of shared sacrifice.
Democrats are working on a tough plan to condition how the money for the escalation can be spent. But many of them--and virtually all Republicans--remain unwilling to state an uncomfortable truth obvious to the majority of Americans: The war is lost and America should leave.