Smith: Senate Resolution Too Inflammatory

Jeff Alworth

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of Senators announced a resolution to oppose the "surge" President Bush plans in Iraq.  The measure was drafted by Joe Biden (D-DE), Carl Levin (D-MI), and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and is now supported by Olympia Snowe (R-ME), along with many Democrats.  It is a non-binding resolution and does not include language that would require Congressional authorization to fund the surge, as does a similar bill by Edward Kennedy (D-MA). 

And what about our own Republican Senator, erstwhile foe of the war, think about this symbolic vote? 

[H]e opposes the resolution because it uses the word "escalating," which he said is a partisan term that Democrats favor and that "unnecessarily inflames the resolution."

Hmmm.  The sponsors said they could change the wording to make it more palatable--which would apparently satisfy the boldly anti-war Smith--so I called his DC office to find out if he supports the spirit of the resolution.  Said the staffer I spoke to:

"He hasn't really spoken too much about the non-binding resolution.  His basic position is that he wants to see a redeployment out of Iraq."

Here on BlueOregon, we've had some chatter about whether Smith is really trying to do something about Iraq, or offering a smart political soft shoe (see here, here, and here) in preparation for the '08 campaign.  He has said he opposes the surge and finds the President's execution of the war flawed.  But is he willing to do something more than make statements to the media?  Will he support a re-worded resolution that officially states a position he's been claiming to hold for weeks?

Your move, Senator.

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    On the one side: sound policy, good politics, bipartisan support, and Senator Smith's own credibility.

    On the other: semantic critiques, President Bush, and Senator Smith.

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    Short answer: NO. He won't support any resolution, even a non-binding one.

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    Better yet, why doesn't Gordon Smith offer his own resolution? At least then he'd have his skin in the game.

    Everything else is just spin.

  • Garrett (unverified)

    Once again Gordo loses his spine when he really has to show one.

  • Betsy Wilson (unverified)

    What's really the problem here is that the media have allowed the President to talk of a "surge" and not simply called it an escalation.

    Because voters react differently to the terminology (another problem), politicians will refuse to be branded with what's really going on.

    It's sort of like the word "casualties" instead of "people who are killed or injured." Or calling it the Department of Defense instead of the Department of War.

    Language matters. And no one understands that better than the military-industrial complex.

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    And in stark contrast is this brilliant bit of analysis by Senator Clinton.

  • Chris W (unverified)

    I would hardly call HRC's political calculation brilliant. Had she opposed the war in 2003, that would have been brilliantly courageous.

    Now she just comes off as trying to cover up for her previous miscalculation. I would be more impressed if she stated that she made a mistake by originally supporting the invasion of Iraq.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    Has anyone else noted that John Edwards has begun referring to the "surge" as the "McCain Plan"? Not sure if it is entirely honest to lay the entire responsibility for Bush Jr.'s latest dumb idea on McCain, but when it comes to building a foundation for future political battles, I like the idea of using the "surge" as a tool against McCain.

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    The phrase Edwards has been using is "McCain Doctrine." And it's pretty ridiculous:

    McCain said, “The worst of all worlds would be a small, short surge of US forces. We’ve tried small surges in the past and they’ve been ineffective.”

    The current proposal by Bush to send 21,500 troops would be exactly that: a small surge that we've tried before (five times, I believe.)

    But it's not too far off what McCain advocated:

    McCain called for a minimum of six additional Army brigades -- roughly 25,000 soldiers -- to be sent to Iraq, especially translators, Special Forces and civil affairs officers.

    (both quotes from

    The other day, my friend Al suggested that this plan is the best evidence that Bush has gone "Elvis crazy, Michael Jackson crazy." As in, he's so deluded by the armies of yes-men surrounding him, that his decisions are completely disconnected from reality.

    Apart from the obvious - putting even more of our troops in harm's way while fanning the flames of anti-American sentiments worldwide - it seems to me that Bush's surge will accomplish only one thing: it will undercut McCain's strategy. McCain tried to take a position so unlikely to be carried out, that he could always claim his would have been the right approach. But if Bush goes ahead with this, that won't be possible.

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    Smith came out and said he was critical in the war, but fails to do anything about it. It sounds like all talk no action.

  • GawD (unverified)

    The day after Bush announced his escalation, I called Smith's office to ask what Smith would do since he had announced his opposition to the war. The staff person I talked to said there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING CONGRESS could do. So while Mr. Smith opposes the war, he would DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to oppose the president.

    So my question became: So Smith accepts Bush as a dictator that can't be opposed by the legislative branch of government? Where has our democracy gone?

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    Edwards is right on calling it the McCain doctrine. He brought it up before Bush did, in what many people believe was a gambit to go to the right of the President on Iraq. Everyone seemed to think that the ISG report would give Bush an "out" on Iraq, and then when following the ISG's recs failed to create peace and harmony, McCain could use "they should have done what I advocated all along" in his campaign.

    But as McCain should be used to by now, Bush fucked him completely by taking McCain's advice! Now when it fails, McCain has nowhere to hide...except maybe behind Joe Lieberman.

    If there is only one positive this war brings, it will be that it has killed whatever chance McCain had at becoming President of the United States. Thank God.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    In the "lesser of evils" contest for 2008 President, McCain is near the top of my list. Rudy G. is probably just above McCain. Here's hoping that the Republicans nominate either McCain or Rudy so we will have a decent fall back position if the right wing comes up out of their fallout shelters (or underground churches) and wins the 08 election. Don't badmouth McCain until you have listened to Mitt Romney's hate speaches - a truly scary individual!

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    Yeah, McCain actually called for almost this exact plan in October 2006. From the NY Sun (H/T to TPM):

    "Roughly, you need another 20,000 troops in Iraq,"

    But we were talking about Smith. Clearly he's doing his six-year pander. He's going to make as many appearances and be quoted as many times as he can saying he opposes the war and Bush, and favors redeployment. However, as an ambitious man who's looking to move up in the Republican party, he's going to find any and every reason he can to avoid voting that way. His colleagues will understand that he may have to say some things to get re-elected. But if he actually starts selling them out on votes, he's going to find himself in the Linc Chaffee/Jim Jeffords shithouse in a hurry and he doesn't want that.

    Norm Coleman (MN), John Sununu (NH), and Susan Collins (ME) are all doing the same dance to one degree or another. It's kind of funny to watch. However, if we do our jobs right, we can remind voters and the media of all the other things Smith has said in support of the war along the way. That's our job now. Don't let people forget what a right-wing ass Smith is and has been on this and other issues. We can do it.

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    Today's O had a story that Smith is drafting his own bill with a couple other Senators, which doesn't use the word "escalation."

    Is the Senator finally ready to ease back on the word games? Or will he put something in there that's unacceptable to other critics?

    Here's hoping someone - ANYONE - gets some legislation on the floor that captures the enormous consensus out there that this whole surge thing is just plain WRONG. Something everyone but the McCain-Liberman party can approve.

    <h2>Of course, the longer Smith lets this story linger in the news, the more he builds the case that he's putting serious thought and hard work into the issue. Blah blah blah. Just get something done, Senator - there are lives at stake, and the future of our nation. The time is NOW.</h2>

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