In the Arena

Live-Blogging the Senate Iraq Debate

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I’m not sure what’s been happening for the past hour, but right now–4:05pm–Senator Warner is arguing furiously against the surge, adding up 332,000 Iraqis trained in the past 4 years and argues that they should be the people policing the civil war…but will there be a vote or not?

4:23–Boy, is this confusing! Arlen Spector is arguing that “this is not a debate to be short-circuited”….but he’s arguing against Democrats, arguing that they’re trying to limit amendments, and therefore he’s going to vote against cloture?…But now he’s saying he’s against the surge. And now he’s saying that “we can’t limit funding” for the troops, but the Senate has to “assert its authority.” So how’s he going to vote?

4:35–Aha! Cornyn is saying there are at least six different positions on the war, and the Democrats only want to vote on one of them–Warner’s, and that even Warner opposes that. But that’s not true: Reid has said that he’ll allow votes on Warner, McCain and Judd Gregg resolutions. But the Republicans want filibuster-proof votes on all three, and Reid has promised–an hour or so ago–filibuster-proof votes on just Warner and McCain.
Short form: Republicans don’t want a vote on the Warner resolution…but I’m still confused: Warner apparently doesn’t want a vote on it, either?

4:52–Lieberman. Altogther proper that we debate…but it should be a serious debate. But I don’t agree with the Warner resolution…so let’s not talk about it. “What we say here will be heard by our men and women in uniform, by the thuggish regimes in Syria and Iran, by Al Qaeda…” So let’s not talk about it! “It will discourage our troops, hearten our enemies…” (But going ahead with a flawed strategy won’t discourage our troops and hearten our enemies?)
Lieberman and McCain are trying to say you’re for surge or in favor of getting out–which is, to coin a phrase, intellectually dishonest. As is the phrase “lack of progress” in Iraq. Intellectually honest would be: “disastrous failure.”
5:05–More Lieberman “We’re on the brink of a decisive battle for Baghdad.” No we’re not, as General Petraeus describes it: counterinsurgency is a gradual effort to win the trust and support of the local populace. For Lieberman to overstate the mission is to undermine the mission.

5:17–Carl Levin terrific on what “emboldens the enemy: “We owe our troops everything…including our best thinking about this problem. It is an insult to the intelligence of our troops to say that debating this policy emboldens the enemy.”

5:26–Yikes! Both Hagel and Warner are going to vote against voting on the Warner resolution. How lame….McConnell is now saying the disagreement is ONLY about establishing a 60-vote threshold for the Judd Gregg resolution. McConnell is now reminding us of the Democrats’ insisting on 60-votes for judicial nominees.

5:44–the vote is starting, but Harry Reid just conceded that he’s going to lose on a straight party line vote (minus Lieberman).