And so the Democrats caved, pathetically, to Bush and to Bush's war.
"It tells American workers that the only way they will get an increase in wages is to continue to support funding the war which is taking the lives of their sons and daughters," Kucinich said.
No amount of extenuation can minimize the fact that the Democrats, who were brought to power in Congress to end the war, have just signed on to another $120 billion for that war.
There is not even a timetable for withdrawal, just 18 benchmarks that the President himself can waive.
What an abdication!
What a capitulation!
Even as U.S. soldiers are increasingly bogged down in Baghdad, even as the death toll of our troops zoomed past the 3,400 mark, the Democratic compromisers in Congress could not find enough spinal fluid to stand tall against Bush and the inevitable you-don't-support-the-troops ads that they fear so much.
Well, they're going to have to summon the courage to withstand those ads at some point, or they'll end up voting for an additional hundred billion dollars down the road.
With this vote, they'll be consigning hundreds of additional soldiers to their deaths.
Largely to blame for this is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who mindlessly trumpeted the bill as some sort of an accomplishment.
"For heaven's sake, look where we've come," he said. "It's a lot more than the President ever expected he'd have to agree to."
Is it really?
Bush essentially got everything he wanted. No timetable. No mandatory benchmarks. And all the money he needs to keep waging the war.
Also to blame is Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, who is an old Clinton triangulator. "I view this as the beginning of the end of the President's policy," he somehow managed to mutter.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi showed no leadership on this issue. She even helped broker a deal that she herself can't abide. "I'm not likely to vote for something that doesn't have a timetable," she said. So why did she go along?
At least two Democratic members of Congress distinguished themselves in their opposition to this primitive cave.
Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin said: "I cannot support a bill that contains nothing more than toothless benchmarks and that allows the President to continue what may be the greatest foreign policy blunder in our nation's history. There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action."
And Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio exposed the hideousness of one of the strategies of the Democratic leadership: to salt the bill with an increase in the minimum wage.
"It tells American workers that the only way they will get an increase in wages is to continue to support funding the war which is taking the lives of their sons and daughters," Kucinich said. "First, blood for oil. Now, a minimum wage for maximum blood. Aren't the American people giving enough blood for this war without having to give more to have a wage increase?"
Not a penny more should be spent on this war, except to get our troops out of there.
That's what the American people want.
And it is the height of cowardice and negligence for the Democrats to give Bush what he wants, instead.
Update: Barbara Lee Condemns Iraq Bill
On the House floor on May 24, Representative Barbara Lee issued the following statement:
"Mr. Speaker, in 2003 Congress approved a $78 billion dollar supplemental. In 2004 it was $87 billion. In 2005 it was $82 billion. In 2006 it was $72 billion. And now the administration wants almost $100 billion more?
"As of today, 3,429 of our brave troops and countless Iraqis have died in this occupation. The President has dug us into a deep hole in Iraq and it boggles my mind that Congress wants to give him another blank check to buy more shovels.
"This occupation and civil war cannot be won militarily. Mr. Speaker, how many will have to die before this House stops writing blank checks?
"Mr. Speaker, the American people are looking to Congress to end this failed policy and bring our troops home.
"Two months ago, we took the Lee Amendment to the Rules Committee, which would have fully funded the safe and timely withdrawal of U.S forces from Iraq. That is what we should be voting to do today, not to give the President another blank check. I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill."
Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.
© 2007 The Progressive