From the AP.
WASHINGTON — Anti-war Democrats in the Senate failed in an attempt to cut off funds for the Iraq war on Wednesday, a lopsided bipartisan vote that masked growing impatience within both political parties over President Bush’s handling of the four-year conflict.
Don’t you love it when news reports editorialze. Make up your mind if you want to report or offer commentary!
The 67-29 vote against the measure left it far short of the 60 needed to advance. More than half the Senate’s Democrats supported the move, exposing divisions within the party but also marking a growth in anti-war sentiment from last summer, when only a dozen members of the rank and file backed a troop withdrawal deadline.
“It was considered absolute heresy four months ago” to stop the war, said Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, author of the measure to cut off funds for most military operations after March 31, 2008.
While there is a rise in the sentiment towards defunding and withdrawl, it seems that the Democratic Congress and Senate are still torn in two between a growing shift towards the hard left of their base, which is for immediate withdrawl “by any means necessary” and those who seem to have managed to have kept some level of sanity and understand that an immediate withdrawl would be a disaster of the highest order for the United States from a policy standpoint within the region, as well as for Iraq in its struggle to come to some semblance of order.
Ironically, the vote also cleared the way for the Democratic-controlled Congress to bow to Bush’s wishes and approve a war funding bill next week stripped of the type of restrictions that drew his veto earlier this spring.
If this does develop, it will be a fairly large political victory for the Administration. While the sentiment against a prolonged stay in Iraq is strong and rising, at the end of the day – or at the end of the Bush Presidency – it is still very likely that the United States will have troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Once the US invaded, it owned the problems of this country, and it there is no reason to believe that just as there are troops in Kosovo, South Korea, and Germany long after our military engagement ended, the same, for better or worse, is true about Iraq.
Democrats vowed in January to force an end to the war, and nowhere is the shift in sentiment more evident than among the party’s presidential contenders in the Senate.
For the first time, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois and Joe Biden of Delaware joined Sen. Chris Dodd in lending support to the notion of setting a date to end U.S. participation in the war.
Clinton, the Democrats’ presidential front-runner in most early polls, has adamantly opposed setting a date for a troop withdrawal, and she gave conflicting answers during the day when asked whether her vote signified support for a cutoff in funds.
“I’m not going to speculate on what I’ll be voting on in the future,” she said at midday. But a few hours later she said: “I support the … bill. That’s what this vote … was all about.”
This is a rather signficant development. All of the major contenders for the Democratic nod are now lined up four square in the anti-war posture of the base. For Senator Clinton, who for the most part has split her votes with and against the Administration it seems that her shift towards the left is to guard against a double flank movement by Sen. Obama and former Sen. Edwards. One thing is for certain, this vote will help her with the base, but may hurt her in the general election. While the base is all for getting out – NOW – the rest of the country wants to get out, and to do so by defunding the troops may not sell well with Blue Dog Democrats.