A Senate GOP staffer close to the process explains via e-mail why yesterday’s press coverage of the Iraq resolutions was so flawed:
Here’s why the articles are wrong — how can one say that a vote to continue to debate the wisdom of a measure is a vote to refuse to debate? You say it’s because we haven’t voted to proceed, but that doesn’t mean there is any limitation on debate. To the contrary, the Senate had very heated debate all day today about Iraq, incl McCain, Kerry, Kennedy, Warner, and others. That’s debate. The vote yesterday had virtually no effect on it. All that has been limited is the ability to eventually vote on Levin-Warner.
The Hill press know this. They watched the debate all day today. Let’s see if they acknowledge tomorrow that debate has not been limited.
Well, yes and no. On the one hand, reporters to continue to explain that the Senate Democrats are trying to limit debate by only allowing one resolution to go forward:
Republicans are advocating the Gregg resolution because they know, as do Democrats, that only it could garner 60 votes. Gregg’s proposal would recognize the power of the president to deploy troops as well as the “responsibility” of Congress to fund them.
Democrats regard the measure as a political stunt but are loath to go on the record opposing it, for fear of giving the impression that they would harm troops in the field. They also recognize that a vote in favor of Gregg would amount to a tacit endorsement of Bush’s troop plan.
On the other hand, House Democrats are successfully gaming the press by claiming that inaction in the Senate has forced them to start their own debate:
But the lingering impasse forced the hand of House Democrats, who had become increasingly impatient waiting for the Senate to weigh in on the president’s troop plan. Unwilling to wait any longer, the Democratic leadership said it would set aside three days next week to deliver its own verdict on the administration strategy.
“The reason we’re going ahead is not because we don’t think the Senate will ever act,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, “but we’re not sure when the Senate is going to act.”
Democrats contend that they foisted off most of the blame for the breakdown on Republicans and were more than happy to have the fight end for now, leaving the opposition trying to explain the complex Senate rules and why Republicans had not been willing to go ahead.
Funny how in this news analysis, New York Times reporter Carl Hulse describes a process he’s willingly become a part of.