SUPPORT OUR TROOPS
Of all the hypocritical, pandering-to-the-slavering-war-beast actions Congressional Republicans have taken since Democrats assumed control of the House and a meaningless (because of Lieberman) majority in the Senate, this is it.
Of all the Democratic amendments to the Defense appropriations bill, the measure championed by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) was the most obvious no-brainer. The amendment, which was co-sponsored by another decorated war hero, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), didn’t have a direct impact on troop withdrawal or timelines, so it should have been easier for Republicans to support.
Webb’s measure focused on the multiple and extended deployments and rotations that have undermined U.S. readiness, and have strained the military to the breaking point. Webb/Hagel was quite simple: it requires every deployed soldier receive at least the same amount of rest when they return home. In other words, serve six months in Iraq, rest for six months back home.
“We have an amendment before us that is critical for the strength of our military and the well-being of our troops. Regardless of where we stand on the war, I would hope that we stand as one in our commitment to keeping our military the strongest in the world,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said before the vote. “We should all agree that we can’t sustain that strength if our men and women in uniform aren’t given the protection and care they need. That’s not a Democratic talking point or a Republican talking point — it’s just common sense.”
Well, it should be. As it turns out, most Senate Republicans not only opposed Webb/Hagel, they filibustered it so that it wouldn’t receive an up-or-down vote. This afternoon, Dems fell short of breaking the filibuster, 56 to 41, four votes shy of what they needed.
I want to hear those 46 Senators who voted against Webb-Hagel to tell their constituencies and the American people once again how much they "support the troops." I want John McCain and Joe Lieberman, who are so fond of visiting Iraq and returning to tell touching stories about our soldiers being eager to fight on and of the tender feelings their executive officers have for their men and women's welfare, to go back to Iraq, look those soldiers in the eye and say, "I just opposed in the Senate an amendment that would have ensured that you don't return to fight in this place until you've been fully rested, equipped, and retrained for your next deployment. I did that because I support and care about you so much." And I want the right-wing mouthpieces who beat the war drum ad nauseum while demonizing the opposition for not caring about our "brave men and women" to explain to their audience why they've remained mum about the defeat of this amendment.
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE that the Bush administration, Republicans and conservatives can continue to celebrate their lovefest for the military and yet oppose increasing their salaries and improving their healthcare?
This latest outrage should have been the top story of the day and week. But what's one more outrage out of so many?
Still, I would hope that somebody is going to thrust this issue upon the consciousness of the American voting public, who will then, in my fantasy, raise a loud enough clamor -- such as the right-wing did on the immigration bill -- to force Webb-Hagel back onto the Senate floor, where Republicans will discover they cannot raise enough votes to filibuster, the amendment is passed, and it is up to George W. Bush, the Decider and Commander-in-Chief, to explain to his troops and the public why he will veto it.