Friday, September 21, 2007

Politix Trumps Humane, Inane Trumps All

He who travels far will often see things Far removed from what he believed was Truth.
When he talks about it in the fields at home,
He is often accused of lying,
For the obdurate people will not believe
What they do not see and distinctly feel.
There is something that is at the same time political and inhumane about Senate Republicans this week rejecting a bipartisan proposal to lengthen the home leaves of U.S. troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On a political level, these senators were only doing the expedient thing in blocking a measure that war opponents viewed as one of the best chances to force President Bush to accelerate the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
This is because extending home leaves – even with an exemption for troopers who volunteer to return to duty early by Democratic Senator James Webb of Virginia, himself a Vietnam combat veteran – might have painted the president into an even tighter corner.

The 15-month tours of duty for the "surge" combat brigades will begin to expire next April, there are no units to replace them, the Army secretary and service chiefs refuse to extend duty tours any further, and even the president knows that he cannot mobilize the Reserves.
But on a human level – something that most politicians of all stripes merely pay lip service to – the vote was a stinging slap in the face of an exhausted and, I daresay, a demoralized fighting force.
As it was, the Senate was merely taking valuable time from its important debate over the MoveOn.Org ad on General Petraeus, which of course was as supercilious as the ad itself, and it came down to Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia, a Navy veteran and former secretary of the Navy, to best elucidate the inherent conflict between the political and the humane.

Warner told Webb that:
"I agree with the principles that you've laid down in your amendment, but I regret to say that I've been convinced by those in the professional uniform that they cannot do it."
And with that the vote to end debate failed at 56 votes, four fewer than needed to undercut a threatened Republican filibuster.
But when all was said and done, inane trumped all as 72 senators voted to condemn the MoveOn ad, 16 more than could muster the courage to support extending home leaves.

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