Friday, September 26, 2003

Using Power

I was thinking some on our conversation in the car regarding how the Senate Democrats handled the Iraq war resolution. A good point was made that if even two Democrats defected (and by this I mean for reasons of conscience rather than politics) and voted for the resolution it would have passed, making the votes against (by the reasoning of the Democratic leadership) a meaningless sacrifice. However, aside from a filibuster (which would have required significantly more defectors), there were still strong steps the Democrats could have taken. As the majority party in the Senate, they could have amended the resolution to require UN involvement or to require certain bars to be met prior to a war being started, or to require postwar plans to be put in front of Congress before the war began, etc. They had the complete power to shape the resolution as they desired. But instead they rolled over and signed a blank check allowing the President to do anything he damned well pleased. The failure is not simply that they allowed the resolution to pass, but that they didn't leverage their power to get any concessions made that would make the resolution more palatable to themselves and their constituents.

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