How Bad Was It?

Today’s Senate vote, I mean. Obviously, it wasn’t good; but I’m not sure it was quite as bad as some think. The real battle was over the Levin amendment, which would have called on President Bush to set a withdrawal date from Iraq. The Democrats’ proposal failed 58-40. But in truth, everything about today’s vote was merely symbolic. Not only are most of its provisions merely advisory (e.g., urging the President to set forth his strategy for victory, as though he had not already done so in dozens of speeches), but in addition, none of the controversial measures that passed today are in the House version of the Defense Department appropriations bill. So it remains to be seen whether any of the Senate’s provisions ever go into effect.

The fact is that the President’s Iraq policy is succeeding quite well. The Democrats know this, I think, and are trying to put themselves in a no-lose position. Thus, what they constantly talk about is reducing American troop levels there. Well, yes–President Bush obviously wants to bring home as many American soldiers and Marines as soon as possible. Because the process of training Iraqi units is going well, it seems highly probable that there will be significant troop reductions next year. I think the Democrats know this, and are trying to blur the issue so that, when the time comes, they can attribute the troop reductions not to the success of the President’s strategy, but to their own demands.

One more thing: we have been clamoring for the Plame Rule to be applied to the dozens of Democratic Party stalwarts who inhabit the CIA, and who constantly leak classified information damaging to the administration to the New York Times and the Washington Post. Today’s bill does that, to a degree at least. It includes a provision that would “strip security clearances of federal government officials who knowingly disclose national security secrets.”

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