I'll trade you one Pryor, for a Hagel and a Smith...

In a flagrant and irresponsible move, the Senate voted on Tuesday along party lines (with two exceptions on the GOP side of the aisle and one on the left, which I alluded to in the title of this post and will expound upon below) to reject an amendment put forth by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to strike from the military appropriations bill language which calls for a time certain withdrawal of troops from Iraq, setting the target date for combat troop redeployment of March 2008, one year from this month and smack-dab in the middle of the presidential primaries all around the country. Essentially, the vote is a populist driven distortion of the Senate's true constitutional function, marking an overt attempt by the governing majority to impose a change in national foreign policy on the sitting president. Nearly 250 years of American involvement in global affairs, particularly matters of war, have been managed solely by the White House, with oversight and allocation of funding reserved as the main function of the Senate, but to attach an amendment that flies in the face of Executive authority, and if signed into law would radically alter and limit the president's ability to wage the battle in Baghdad, has me puzzled in almost every way.

The democrats are clearly governing based on the polls they have been reading in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, while still riding high after their resounding victory in the midterm elections, and sense that by forcing the president's hand early in the game they will be able to shape the debate in the lead-up to next years presidential election. Clearly the kool-aid being spewed by the Bush-bashing correspondents on MSNBC and CNN, not to mention the doubly potent elixir pompous finger-pointing pundits at the New York Times (yes Mr. Friedmann, I mean you) have been regurgitating since they decided to turn their backs on a situation in the Middle East that they are largely intellectually responsible for, has been happily lapped up by ignorant Democratic freshman and otherwise more reasoned Senate veterans alike.

Anyone who listens to the speeches given by Democratic Senators both on the floor of the Senate chamber and on the campaign trail, and actually possessed half a brain cell that they devoted to reasoned analysis, would probably find such a bold move away from fighting the "insurgents" in favor of retreating to safer ground to be confusing at best, dishonorable for sure. But more on this in a subsequent post...

Democratic Profile in Courage: Senator Pryor Casts Lone Ray of Optimism Amid Partisan Pandering

One profile in courage that I cannot go without noting (but likely to be overlooked by the folks at the Kennedy Presidential Library when they decide whom to award this designation to at their annual gala in honor of the former-president's graduate thesis at Harvard on similarly bold and courageous lawmakers unafraid of standing up to their political superiors in the name of pride and moral duty) was that of Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR). In defiance of his caucus and without much being made of it amongst the talking heads, Pryor voted for the second time in as many weeks to reject a democratic led constitutional coup, and voted his conscience. The MSNBC producers were so confused by his vote that they improperly branded the charismatic and clearheaded Democrat a Republican during much of their coverage on Tuesday when they showed his photo during discussion of the impending vote! I found this particularly surprising considering they never failed to highlight his party allegiance when he was leading the charge against the attorney general for the previous two weeks, but that story has been moved from the headlines to Page 2 (maybe 3 or 4) for the time being; though I am confident it will be back, along with the capital D after Pryor's name in no time.

Bravo Senator Pryor; I commend your principled approach to your duties as a public servant, and I guess I can give you a pass for leading the unjustified and slanderous witch hunt against Alberto Gonzales (as long as you don't buckle under pressure when the time comes to vote on this measure again once Dubya has exercised his veto power when this bill reaches his desk later in the week).

Two Republicans Succumb to Opportunistic Impulse and Disgracefully Cast Deciding Votes with Democrats

Unfortunately, Senator Pryor's courage will never emerge from beneath the national political radar because of the reckless and opportunistic decisions of Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE; left) to undermine their party's otherwise unified attempt to salvage the Senate's collective dignity and avoid delaying the much needed funding allocated in the DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL. Voting along with his less than dignified colleagues on the left side of the aisle, Hagel is likely betting his chances on ever seeing the Oval Office from any other perspective than that of a humble guest on his clearly politically calculated vote yesterday, though I doubt Senator Reid is eager to share any of the dubious credit the media is eagerly looking to shower on the emboldened Senate radicals. On his Congressional website Smith gives his brief policy position on Defense and Foreign Policy, which reads as follows:

The American military and our foreign policy have a long history of benefitting not only our citizens, but also countless millions of people throughout the world. Our policies deter nuclear proliferation, fight terrorism, battle disease, and opens new markets by spreading free market and democratic values abroad.

The United States is the greatest humanitarian nation in the world, contributing assistance to some 150 countries worldwide. As you know, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, we have given millions of dollars to non-governmental organizations all over the world through a multitude of programs, fostering positive change and touching the lives of countless individuals.

Maintaining our global leadership in these areas also brings us great rewards – democratic allies and a safer world in which the U.S. and other nations can prosper.

Needless to say, the Senator's vote hardly reflects the principles he chooses to espouse rhetorically for casual observers, any of whom would have been unlikely to guess accurately how Smith would have voted on Tuesday after reading this brief statement, which gives an ambiguous and idealistic view of the role that America should play in global affairs. Shame on you Senator Smith, and you as well Senator Hagel; may you both lose your re-elections in the most embarrassing and humiliating fashions possible. If only we (Republicans) could trade your lame-asses for the brass balls and conviction of Senator Pryor; for I am confident in asserting that the country, our troops and the ideals of American leadership which you both dishonorably pay false homage to would be better off if that swap were made.

I will curtail my ranting before I scare away anymore readers, but I could go on forever. Several questions that I have been muttering to myself for the past few hours (to the chagrin of my girlfriend who is working diligently on her law school paper a few feet away from me) will likely produce a series of outbursts as the day wears on. Among the more perplexing are: Who is advising the democrats on which issues are worth the risk of alienating their moderate base? Where the hell was Senator Enzi? How can Bush effectively turn the tables on the Democrats when he presents his case for vetoing this measure (answer likely to follow shortly)? What is going to be the national/international reaction to this largely symbolic, though historic bill? When is the country going to start cutting through the crap? Like I said, I could rant for hours and thousands upon thousands of more words. For now, I will reflect...

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