"Be bold, be bold, but not too bold,
Lest the marrow of your blood run cold" – from the fairy tale “Mr. Fox.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd has not been able to move much above one percentage point in presidential preference polling. That places him roughly twenty nine points below that of President George Bush’s approval rating, now bottoming out at 30%.
Dodd is disappointed at his fellow Democrat presidential wannabes. After all the huffing and puffing since Dodd’s party took over the House and Senate, the Dems in the U.S. Congress have failed to produce a bill (or an indictment of impeachment) forcing the president to withdraw troops from Iraq by next March, Dodd’s preferred withdrawal date.
The date itself is unimportant. The idea is to nudge the already stumbling Bush into the fiery pit. However, none of the serious Democrat presidential contenders want to be responsible for a loss in Iraq, proof, if any were needed, that the Dems do not believe their own pre-election rhetoric. One Vietnam a century is one too many, even for Hillary Clinton.
Dodd has no such misgivings. He is the equivalent of a lame duck presidential wannabe; therefore he can afford to be bold …but not too bold. Dodd is not encouraging his colleagues in the senate to de-finance the war, the proper and constitutional method of asserting legislature prerogatives against a recalcitrant president. None of the serious Democrat presidential candidate is that nervy.
The Iraq funding legislation that passed in the senate by a 80-40 vote contained no provision concerning time line withdrawals of American troop. The House vote, 280-142 in favor of the nearly $95 billion funding bill, did not tickle Rep. John Murtha’s fancy.
The increasingly embittered John Murtha erupted in yet another display of anger, shouting at Rep. Chris Shays who, on his return from Iraq, said he had seen some progress in Anbar province.
Shays said that if Democrats in the House had their way with timetables, “We will have only ourselves to be shameful of... The political progress is moving forward,” at which Murtha, the chief House war protestor, almost hollered, according to one report, “Look at the people killed.”
Earlier in May, Murtha threaten Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, that he would never see another earmark because the former FBI agent presumed to strike a Murtha earmark from an intelligence spending bill.
Earmarks are monetary favors given by the leaders of the dominant party in congress to those who vote in lockstep with party delegations, and Murtha is generally regarded as having perfected the art of the dole. In a burst of brutal honesty worthy of early 20th century Tammany Hall bosses, Murtha once said “Deal making is what Congress is all about.”
One can hear the chorus of Democrat voices in congress singing, “Here, here…”
Connecticut’s two new Reps, Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy voted the Murtha line, and John Larson has long been an opponent of the war. In a New York Times report, Murtha figures as one of Larson’s earmark patrons.
Has the promise of future benefits issuing from Murtha’s grab bag played any role in affecting votes on war strategy among possible congressional beneficiaries? Murphy -- whose campaign against former congresswoman Nancy Johnson was not centered on his opposition to the Iraq war – now says he was sent to congress by a constituency who expects him to bring the troops home within a timeline that will not get him in Dutch with Murtha and other powerful anti-war Democrats.
“If someone tells you it’s not about the money,” says the old cynic, “you know it’s about the money.”