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Monday, September 09, 2002
Via Jonah Goldberg and NRO.

Tom Daschle is annoying. He is annoying me. I think he's doing it on purpose. The man must get into the office in the morning and, right there, at the top of his to do list is "find something to say to annoy Carey Gage." Or maybe his wife gives him a note with his morning newspaper and coffee.

First he says (or at least is quoted as saying in the Washington Times):

"Most Democrats believe that the president has yet to make the case for taking action in Iraq. We were thinking about having a debate among those within the administration so that we might get both sides."

A Congressional debate about the war? I have no problem there. If there is to be a declared war, Congress must issue the declaration. Short of a declared war, it gets a bit murky, what with the War Powers Act. Every administration since LBJ (I think) has disputed the constitutionality of that law, but no one has had the guts to take it to the Supreme Court to actually figure it out (most likely because both sides fear they would lose). Instead, every President that has wanted to use force abroad has come to Congress for authorization for that force while simultaneously declaring that there is no requirement that he do so. But, legal requirements aside, even if the Bush administration wanted to effect a "regime change" (our euphemism du jour) in Iraq without formally declaring war, it would be politically unpalatable to do so without a Congressional vote on the matter. So either way, a Congressional debate about war in Iraq is not only a good thing, its inevitable.

Then, the very next day, there is this colloquy during the daily briefing:

QUESTION: How quickly, Senator, will you get to the question of Iraq? Assuming the president spells out something in greater detail next week, can you get something done before the elections? And what's your priority? Would you like to get it done in a couple of weeks, or do you see this taking months? And do you have any details from the president as to what his timetable is to actually put something in writing?

DASCHLE: Well, I'm more concerned about getting this done right than getting it done quickly. And getting it done right means that we have to ensure that we have the answers to questions that you've heard many of us ask now for the last several days.

I think getting it done right means involving the international community. And of course that will involve a major test when the president goes to the United Nations on the 12th of September. I would hope he would get a Security Council vote of approval, like his father did. I would hope that he could get the kind of support from the U.N. that his father did. And that, too, will be a central factor in how quickly the Congress acts. If the international community supports it, if we can get the information we've been seeking, then I think we can move to a resolution. But short of that, I think it would be difficult for us to move until that information is provided and some indication of the level of international support is also evident.

In other words, Bush should not go to Congress to have a debate, he should go to the UN (first). Specifically the Security Council. Now, Daschle specifically denied that he would refuse to support a war if the UN refused to support it. He hinted that that's what he would do, but he denied that's what he meant.

DASCHLE: ... What I said was that it would be in everyone's best interest -- it would certainly be in the president's best interest, our country's best interest, for him to go to the Security Council, to the United Nations, to solicit their support and to encourage and to acquire their active engagement in this effort, just as his father did. That would be the ideal that I believe would be very advantageous. If he does that and fails, I don't think that necessarily precludes the U.S. or this government from acting without their unqualified endorsement or their support in some manner, but I think it makes it harder for us as a country.

Sure, having the UN Security Council behind us would be great. But it clearly is not going to happen any time soon, and time, as they say in real estate contracts, is of the essence. So what does Daschle propose to do in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution in favor of ousting Saddam? He won't say. It doesn't "necessarily preclude ... the US from acting ..." Strong words, huh?

Leaving that aside, however, the current members of the Security Council are US, UK, France, China, Russia, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, Guinea, Ireland, Columbia, Cameroon, Bulgaria and Syria. Does anyone think that Syria should be given the same sensitive information (intelligence estimates, orders of battle, etc.) that, say, members of Congress would get in a briefing by administration officials? I didn't think so. So what Daschle is proposing is to have a debate about the war with less than all of the facts available.

Next, Daschle seems to have figured out that talking about a potential war just before an election isn't as good for Congressional Democrats as talking about Enron and WorldCom, or social security or drug benefits for seniors or any of the gazillion ways Democrats have to spend my money. So, as reported in a Wall Street Journal editorial that I haven't read (because I no longer subscribe), Daschle wants to put off a Congressional debate on the war (where presumably all of the known facts and intelligence estimates would be available) until after the election.

Give Saddam another four to six months to build his bomb? Who cares, if another seat or two goes (or stays) Democratic.

And other Democratic operatives are criticizing the administration for "suspicious timing" (Jim Jordan, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) and "changing the subject" (Joe Lockhart, former Clinton spokesman).

Bush isn't changing the subject, he is responding to the reasonable requests of the Democratic leaders of Congress that there be a debate and/or consultation about a war in Iraq. The timing isn't suspicious (except for Daschle's attempt to postpone the debate). This has been going on all year.

The daily daschle annoyance has a very simple cure, this time, however. Whether or not the formal Kabuki dance that is a Congressional debate takes place before or after election day, simply ask the candidates what their position is on the war. Accept no evasions. Get an answer.

Do you want to know how? Well, you can start here for your Representative and here for your Senator. As to their opponents, look in your local dead tree paper to see who is running against them.

I used the site to write to Bill Pascrell, my representative.

Here is the entire letter. His response will be posted when received.
Dear Congressman Pascrell:
If a vote on going to war in Iraq were held in the House of Representatives today, would you vote in favor of the war or against it?
Thank you in advance for your response.

The same letter is going to Pascrell's opponent.

Uh, that is as soon as I figure out who it is.
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