But the "forces" of appeasement, and a wrong-headed attempt to grant those who wish to annihilate us every benefit of full citizenship, are nibbling away at what should be success. Andrew McCarthy at National Review Online wrote Monday, November 14
...that late last week, the Senate — after a year-and-a-half of fiddling while Rome burned — had finally acted to bar al Qaeda terrorists detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from using the courts of the American people as a weapon in their war against the American people. Well, when it comes to the Republican-controlled Senate, such lauding is always done at one’s peril. The ink was not yet dry (or the online equivalent) on that article when our distinguished senior legislators struck another of their craven compromises.One has to wonder what the American public, if polled on this question after having been fully informed of the nuances of the question, would say. Would a majority trust the Men In Black more than those in uniform?
Last week’s 49-42 margin demonstrated that the votes were there to win. Nevertheless, the chamber has now reversed itself. By a vote of 84-14, the senators resolved Tuesday that the ultimate decision about who is properly considered an “enemy combatant,” should rest with federal judges, not our military commanders who actually confront the enemy in the life-and-death of the battlefield.
And while the Senate proceeds to undermine the war in one direction by making it harder to keep the terrorists we catch out of action, it works in another way to assure we don't stop the terrorists in Iraq:
If the Bush administration is under any illusions about the sorry political state of the Iraq war, yesterday's Senate action should dispel them. A Democratic proposal for a timetable for withdrawal was beaten back 58-40, but Republicans passed their own version to force the administration to make quarterly progress reports to Congress and express its sense that 2006 should be the year when Iraqi security forces take the lead. Substantively, this might not have been particularly objectionable, but politically it was calamitous. It continued the narrative of Bush losing even his own party on Iraq — which is how the headlines have played the vote — and showed that Republicans are afraid to have a fight with Democrats even on ground that should favor them.
The Democrats are ever more explicitly becoming the party of cut-and-run. Only five Democrats voted against setting a timetable for withdrawal. Rather than stand their ground and explain why an exit from Iraq before political and security conditions allow it would be folly, Republicans felt they needed the cover of their own weasely alternative. The letter of the GOP version isn't damaging. Congress already, after all, gets plenty of progress reports.
It is the spirit of the thing that is so damaging. It says that Democrats hold the whip hand on Iraq, and the insurgents' most important strategic center of gravity, Washington, is in danger of being lost. After 30 years straight of warning of another Vietnam, liberals might finally have the repeat of that war they have so often warned about. “American attitudes on Iraq similar to those in Vietnam,” reads a front-page headline in Wednesday's edition of USA Today. Although the administration has finally begun to fight back against the charge that Bush lied the U.S. into the war, it is still not on the crisis political and communications footing that the moment demands. Iraq is a little like a Katrina every day, undermining the public's confidence in the administration's competence and stewardship of the country. There is no substitute for actual progress in Iraq — and we still aren't convinced that the U.S. government has the sense of urgency about achieving it that it should — but the argument for the war must be made constantly, with intelligence and rigor.
One might at least hope Republican senators could consistently, intelligently, and rigorously make such a case.
One might hope.