Friday, November 18, 2005

403 to 3

Let's hear no more talk from House Democrats about pulling out of Iraq as soon as possible. They've voted overwhelmingly, 187 to 3, to shun that option. Maybe after the embarrassment this has brought them they'll be a little more circumspect, and fair, in their criticisms of the war.

Or not.

The Democrats, having considerable experience themselves with such ploys, claimed that the Republican resolution to withdraw immediately from Iraq was a mere political stunt. They sniffed that they would not be gulled into taking it seriously and would therefore vote massively against it. But this is all quite disingenuous, actually.

Why not take the resolution seriously and send the country and the world a message that support for the Bush Iraq policy is minimal in the House? Why not take a stand on principle and demand that our troops come home if that's what the Democrats believe? Why not show the nation how much strength the Democrats have in the House on this issue?

It seems more likely that they don't have any real strength on the issue and rather than make public that uncomfortable fact they chose to conceal it by pretending to protest the Republicans' dirty trick by voting en masse to defeat the resolution. So far from being a protest vote of some bizarre kind, the Democrats' capitulation was actually a very important admission. They seem to be acknowledging that serious opposition to Bush's Iraq policy exists only in the fever swamps of the Left, the media, and Hollywood. Beyond those ideological ghettos, out where the voters are, people may be skeptical, but they're not ready to cut our troops' psychological lifeline.

Time to Put Up or Shut Up

Rep. John Murtha is a good man. I don't believe he's playing politics with his call for the end to the American effort in Iraq. I think he sincerely believes that his call to terminate our presence in Iraq at the earliest practicable date is the right thing to do. Even so, he's wrong and he's being used by those of his fellow Democrats whose chief goal is to hurt President Bush.

The Republicans, however, have called their bluff. If the Democrats truly believe that the war is a failure, if they believe we should get out now, the Republicans are giving them the chance to say so on the record by introducing a sense of the House resolution that calls for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. If Democrats think that pulling out now is the wrong thing to do then they have the chance to express that opinion, too, by voting against the resolution. The vote is coming up tonight.

It's time for President Bush's critics to tell the American people exactly where they stand on Iraq. It's easy to snipe and criticize when there's no price to pay. It's easy to say that Bush has failed in Iraq and that we have no business being there when one's words aren't recorded for all the world to see, but now they will be. And the Democrats are going ballistic. Taking a stand on the record is the last thing they want to do.

"A disgrace," declared House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "The rankest of politics and the absence of any sense of shame," added Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat.

"It's a pathetic, partisan, political ploy," said Rep. Nita Lowey, D- N.Y. Added Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif.: "It's just heinous."

"This is a personal attack on one of the best members, one of the most respected members of this House and it is outrageous," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

Their reaction to the resolution highlights their hypocrisy. If they had sincere convictions about the war they would just vote one way or the other, either to withdraw immediately or not, but their convictions are not sincere. Their stance on the war is for many of them pure political opportunism and the Republican call to put up or shut up is an embarrassing spotlight on their abysmal behavior.

They know that an immediate withdrawal is a morally indefensible position and to endorse it would be politically fatal in a general election. They also know that that's exactly what the Michael Moore/George Soros/ crowd that funds their campaigns and gets out the vote are demanding. They find they have demagogued their way between Scylla and Charibdys and the Republicans are simply giving them the opportunity to declare whether they are going to act like adults or throw in with the jejunne Hollywood elites.

Imagine. The Democrats are outraged that they have to declare themselves either for an immediate withdrawal or against it. Why?

It's really pretty pathetic.

Alito on Abortion

Judge Sam Alito's now famous job application can be found here. Scroll down to page two for the autobiographical information which has created a stir on both Left and Right. Alito states clearly that he believes the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion.

It will be interesting to see how Democratic senators challenge him on this statemment in the confirmation hearings. Will they argue that he is wrong and that there is indeed such a protection? This would be a reckless tactic because they'll then be required to cite chapter and verse which would prove most embarrassing to the entire pro-choice enterprise.

It's more likely they'll just want to severely reprimand him in one of their interminable speeches, to which he will be unable to respond, for his impertinence in casting doubt upon liberal dogma and then try to get him to commit to a reverence for established precedent, or some such thing. Their big donors at and elsewhere, however, recognize the utter pointlessness of this strategy, and will demand that the Democrats do whatever they can to stop this nomination no matter how many knees to the groin they have to administer. Judge Alito better be wearing a cup come January.

Meanwhile, an odd reaction to this application is bubbling in some precincts on the Right. Conservatives are insisting that we shouldn't read too much into Alito's words, that everyone exaggerates on job applications, that nothing in his judicial record suggests he'd overturn Roe v. Wade, etc. This is an astonishingly disingenuous and disappointing argument.

Do these conservatives mean to suggest that Alito might not vote to overturn Roe and that therefore the Left should have no qualms about approving him? Are they conceding to the Left that a Justice who would overturn Roe could be justly blocked by the Democrats while maintaining that Alito is not that sort of judge? Do they mean that the Left shouldn't be concerned about his anti-abortion statements because he might not have really meant them? What kind of a strategy is this?

These Republicans seem to be proclaiming with some enthusiasm that Judge Alito is not really what conservatives hope he is, or that he's actually not impeccably honest since he doesn't really believe what he wrote on his application, and therefore Democrats shouldn't mind confirming him. That's absurd.

If he wasn't telling the truth on the job application and if he doesn't really believe that Roe is an instance of judicial usurpation of the democratic process then conservatives shouldn't support him. This argument that he's not really all that conservative, when made by conservatives to mollify liberals, is sheer stupidity married to dishonesty.

Harold Meyerson at the WaPo writes that:

Alito's advocates argue that he never once called for overturning Roe v. Wade during his 15 years on the appellate bench. But appellate judges interpret the law within the framework that the Supreme Court lays out. Supreme Court justices can change that framework when they see fit -- and they do. Those are the Supreme Court decisions that make the history books, and there are a number of them. Deference to precedents may be a pillar of the law, but -- and on this, conservatives and liberals agree -- it is clearly less of one for Supreme Court justices than for appellate and trial judges.

Alito's champions would have us believe, however, that he will defer even to precedents that he regards as unconstitutional -- despite the fact that the job of a justice is precisely to determine what is and isn't constitutional. That's asking us to believe a lot.

Clearly, the senators charged with questioning Alito will ask him if he still believes what he wrote 20 years ago.

Alito's answer should be, "Darn right I believe it. Why shouldn't I? If anyone can show me why my analysis of what the Constitution says is wrong I'll recant. Otherwise, let's move on to the next question." He might add that "Moreover, those Republicans who are seeking to mislead the public on my position on Roe are a bunch of dishonest dunderheads."

The Iranian Nuclear Program

A "smoking gun" has emerged in Iran that has brought rare unanimity of opinion between the U.S. and its erstwhile European allies about Iran's intentions to build nuclear weapons. Somehow, the U.S. has come into possession of a laptop that has on it a detailed record of Iran's various steps toward developing nukes.

The Iranians have made a calculated decision, it seems, that the political climate in the U.S. will prevent Bush from taking immediate action against them, so they feel emboldened to continue with their nuclear program, and also to try to hurt us with their oil policy. Their hope, perhaps, is that Bush will remain crippled throughout the remainder of his term and that the next president will be much less of a threat to their ambitions.

I think, though, that they have misunderestimated George Bush. The only thing keeping him from hitting Iran tomorrow is that he doesn't want to juggle two messes in the Middle East simultaneously. If Iraq should stabilize over the next twelve-month, Tehran could be in serious trouble. Look this time, however, for the United States to be joined by more allies than fought with us in Iraq.

If this analysis is correct, it explains a couple of things. For one, it explains why the Left is so desperate to weaken Bush. They simply don't want the United States to launch any more assaults in the Middle East and to enjoy any more military successes. The best way for them to ensure that this does not happen is to keep Bush preoccupied at home with one nip at his heels after another. A man busy fighting off a swarm of mosquitoes is ill-positioned to do much else.

The second thing it explains is why Shia-dominated Iran would be supporting a Sunni-dominated insurgency that is killing Iraqi Shiites. The longer Iraq remains unsettled the longer Bush will likely delay in calling the Tehran mullahs to account. If they can keep Iraq unstable for another 18 to 24 months they may be able to survive Bush's tenure. That's worth the cost of abetting the murders of a few thousand of their co-religionists in Iraq.