Tuesday, November 15, 2005

EJ Dionne on the IWR Vote

E. J. Dionne Jr. has another take on the IWR vote and how it does not justify Bush’s actions:

The big difference between our current president and his father is that the first President Bush put off the debate over the Persian Gulf War until after the 1990 midterm elections. The result was one of most substantive and honest foreign policy debates Congress has ever seen, and a unified nation. The first President Bush was scrupulous about keeping petty partisanship out of the discussion.

The current President Bush did the opposite. He pressured Congress for a vote before the 2002 election, and the war resolution passed in October.

Sen. Joe Biden, a Delaware Democrat who is no dove, warned of rushing “pell-mell” into an endorsement of broad war powers for the president. The Los Angeles Times reported that Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, protested in September: “We’re being asked to go to war, and vote on it in a matter of days. We need an intelligence estimate before we can seriously vote.” And Rep. Tom Lantos, a California Democrat, put it plainly: “This will be one of the most important decisions Congress makes in a number of years; I do not believe it should be made in the frenzy of an election year.” But it was. . .

The bad faith of Bush’s current argument is staggering. He wants to say that the “more than a hundred Democrats in the House and Senate” who “voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power” thereby gave up their right to question his use of intelligence forever after. But he does not want to acknowledge that he forced the war vote to take place under circumstances that guaranteed the minimum amount of reflection and debate, and that opened anyone who dared question his policies to charges, right before an election, that they were soft on Hussein.

By linking the war on terrorism to a partisan war against Democrats, Bush undercut his capacity to lead the nation in this fight. And by resorting to partisan attacks again last week, Bush only reminded us of the shameful circumstances in which the whole thing started.


Post a Comment

<< Home