In the Arena


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I can’t understand why Harry Reid is refusing a vote on the Salazar-Alexander amendment. Granted, it’s a mushy, toothless thing, an endorsement of the Baker-Hamilton Report (including the provision that U.S. combat forces be pulled from Iraq by March 2008). But it did have a shot at the 60 votes necessary to put it on Bush’s desk, as part of the Defense Appropriations Bill.

And, if you really want to cause pain amongst the Republicans, wouldn’t it be fairly painful to have the Senate vote, in bipartisan fashion, for a new course in Iraq and then have the President veto it…plus the military pay raise, the Pentagon budget and all the other stuff in the bill?

update: I agree with Yglesias. And we should all remember that while this is doing serious damage to Republicans, it’s also doing damage to Democrats–who continue to seem ineffectual and unwilling to get on to some of the other issues people care about (and Congress can actually do something about). As my colleague Michael Duffy said recently, the Reid strategy is chemotherapy: the Bush cancer takes the greater hit, but the Democratic body is weakened, too. And to keep the metaphor going, chemotherapy doesn’t always work.

I received a call from Mario Cuomo the other day who was worried about the futility of the Democrats’ strategy. Even if a veto proof 67 votes could be found, Cuomo argued, Bush–in his capacity as Commander in Chief–would figure out some rationale to continue paying for the war. (Just as Bill Clinton found a way to pay for the Mexican bailout after the Gingrich Congress blocked it.) The case would then go to the Supreme Court, and you know how those dudes will vote.