Four Senators With Balls
If you said Russ Feingold (D-WI), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and John Kerry (D-MA) you would, of course, be right. And if you think about who was one of the fastest to sign on with the Feingold-Reid legislation to withdraw our troops from Iraq in less than a year, you probably would have also guessed Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
While Joe Biden (D-DE) oddly chooses to mouth Republican talking points and says that he will vote for giving Bush a new blank check with which to continue his ongoing occupation of Iraq -- "as long as we have troops on the frontlines, we must give them the equipment and protection they need," says Biden -- we have at least four (so far) with the guts to do the right thing when the vote is taken on Thursday or Friday.
"I cannot support a bill that contains nothing more than toothless benchmarks and that allows the President to continue what may be the greatest foreign policy blunder in our nation’s history," said Feingold yesterday. "There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action. Congress should have stood strong, acknowledged the will of the American people, and insisted on a bill requiring a real change of course in Iraq.”
And in a post at Daily Kos on Tuesday, Feingold reinforced how he would vote on the non-compromise, saying "To answer those of you who asked if I would support a supplemental without binding language to end the war, the answer is no. I think this conference report is an affront to the will of the American people and does nothing to help change course in Iraq."
Chris Dodd, who is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, continues to display the guts and leadership he's been showing on the war throughout the new Congress.
"I cannot and will not simply give this President another blank check," said Dodd in a statement Wednesday. "Half-measures and equivocations are not going to change our course in Iraq. If we are serious about ending the war, Congress must stand up to this President's failed policy now - with clarity and conviction."
Here's video of Dodd explaining how he will vote:
Senator John Kerry also remains steadfast in his belief that Congress needs to stand firm against a White House hell bent on the same stay-the-course policy and that clearly has no regard for the lives of American troops or the ongoing difficulties faced by military families.
"We support the troops by getting the policy right and this bill allows the President to keep getting the policy wrong. We need a deadline to force Iraqis to stand up for Iraq and bring our heroes home, not watered down benchmarks and blank check waivers for this President," said Kerry. "We support the troops by funding the right mission, not with a White House that opposes a pay raise for our brave men and women in uniform. The original Senate legislation offered a roadmap to change course in Iraq. This new version enables the Administration and Iraqi politicians to deliver more of the same."
And Sanders joins with his Democratic colleagues -- with whom he aligns himself in the Senate -- saying today that he will stand with Feingold, Dodd and Kerry in voting against this legislation.
"My view is that the Congress has got to be as strong as it possibly can be, to say that we've got to bring our troops home as soon as possible," said Sanders. "We cannot continue to fund endlessly month after month, year after year a war which is costing us so much in lives in money and lack of respect around the world."
Meanwhile, John Edwards joins Dodd as only the second of the presidential candidates willing to go toe-to-toe with Bush on ending the war and responsibly redeploying U.S. forces out of the Iraqi civil war.
"The so-called compromise under discussion in Congress that would give the president another blank check to continue his failed war is a serious mistake. Full funding is full funding, no matter what you call it. Every member of Congress who wants to support our troops and end the war should oppose this proposal. If you're in Congress, and you believe this war is wrong, I urge you to use every power you have to stop it if it's brought up for a vote. Block the blank check.So there's your Wednesday-evening count of people with the balls to risk being told they don’t support the troops by those using the perverted logic that Senators trying to keep military lives from being needlessly lost are the ones who are wrong.
"And I urge all Americans who want this war to end to tell your representatives in Congress that you will support them if they stand up to the president. Tell them you understand that when the president vetoes a bill that funds the troop and ends the war, he is the only person in America stopping support for the troops. It is time for this war to end. As I have said repeatedly, Congress should send the president the same bill he vetoed again and again until he realizes he has no choice but to start bringing our troops home. Anything less is everything he needs to prolong the war."
At least these four Senators and John Edwards can go into the 2007 Memorial Day weekend knowing they're trying to keep the death toll from increasing still more for the 2008 observance.
How many of their Congressional colleagues and fellow presidential candidates will be able to say the same?
Update (05/24): Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will also vote against the bogus compromise.