A recent CBS News poll reveals that over 70 percent of Americans believe President Bush should obtain congressional authorization before escalating the war in Iraq. And a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that the public trusts congressional Democrats over Bush to handle Iraq by nearly a two-to-one margin, and that 59 percent of Americans – including over 25 percent of Republicans – want Congress to block the President’s escalation plan.
All of this begs the question: what is Congress going to do about it?
According to the New York Times, White House officials are “far more concerned about threats from Congressional Democrats to take aim at spending on the president’s new plan” than any non-binding, bipartisan resolution opposing escalation.
Nevertheless, there are some Democrats – like Senator Joseph Biden, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – who have deluded themselves into thinking that words alone will stop Bush from pursuing his disastrous war.
“The single most important thing to do is generate a consensus here in the United States Congress,” Biden told The Washington Post. “I cannot believe that the president of the United States would not pay heed to a bipartisan resolution.”
Majority Leader Harry Reid echoed his colleague’s sentiments, telling The Times: “The president’s plan will receive an up-or-down vote…. With that vote, our hope, really our prayer, is that the president will finally listen: listen to the generals, listen to the Iraq Study Group, listen to the American people and listen to a bipartisan Congress.”
With all due respect to both Senators, what President have they been watching for the past six years?
Which isn’t to suggest that there is no value in the non-binding resolutions that will be offered shortly after the State of the Union address tomorrow (the Senate is expected to take up such resolutions on Wednesday). The resolutions represent an opportunity to show a groundswell of opposition and also to recruit Republicans into taking a stronger position against the war – most notably thus far are resolution co-sponsors, Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snowe of Maine. (A former Bush aide who is still close to the White House said that if the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate “a delegation of [conservative] Senators could one day show up in the Oval Office to tell Bush that the party is no longer with him and the war must end – much like Senator William Fulbright forcefully urging President Lyndon Johnson to bring the Vietnam War to a close.”)