Man Without Qualities

Friday, October 11, 2002

The War Resolution And One Election Issue

Congress has passed a resolution allowing the President wide latitude in attacking Iraq.

The vote in the House was 296-133. Only 81 Democrats voted yes, with almost twice that number (126 Democrats) voting no. Six Republicans and one independent also voted no.

The vote in the Senate was 77-23. Only 29 Democrats voted yes, with almost as many (22 Democrats - 21 admitted Democrats plus "independent" Jim Jeffords, who votes with the Democrats within the Senate and on whom they rely to maintain power at least until the coming election) voting no. One Republican voted no.

There will, of course, be many consequences of this Congressional act. One of those consequences should be voters taking a very hard look at the issue of which party controls in which house of Congress. The nearly-late Senator Torricelli tried to make a big deal out of this argument in his failed bid to save his candidacy. It is worth the voters' noting that a very large majority of the Democrats in the House voted against the resolution, and that although Senate Democrats performed better, their votes were almost certainly skewed in many cases towards the President only by the looming election.

For example, one would have to be politically comatose to think that Senator Daschle - who eventually voted for the resolution after engaging in long term trench warfare in the Senate and the media to defeat it, even opening a serious rift with House Minority Leader Gephardt over the issue - subjectively supported the text for which he voted. And his recent behavior almost makes it certain that the Senator would not have voted the way he did but for fact that, as Senate Majority Leader, his vote against the resolution could have affected the fast-coming election - especially in the case of his protege, South Dakota Senator Johnson.

Do the voters really want either House of Congress controlled by the Democratic Party, whose grasp of national and world security is so weak? I don't think so.

So while the resolution may not strongly affect how voters view individual members of Congress, it seems to me that this vote may and should have seriously weakened the force of the argument that voters should vote for a Democrat in order to help secure Democratic control of either House of Congress - the very argument on which Senator Torricelli, for example, was last seen to rely before his recent extinction.

UPDATE: Best of the Web notes:

Of the 13 Democratic senators who face the voters Nov. 5, only four--Illinois's Dick Durbin, Michigan's Carl Levin, Minnesota's Paul Wellstone and Rhode Island's Jack Reed--voted against the resolution. Of those four, only Wellstone faces a serious challenge. ... In addition, every senator whose state was hit in the Sept. 11 attack--including New York's Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton--voted "yes."

Best of the Web is a correct as the force of the looming election on these votes is obvious.

And let's not forget that his vote here may be the last straw for the egregious Senator Wellstone.

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