Loyal Opposition

A discussion mailing list I belong to has flared up this week over US politics having to do with Iraq. Liberals continue to cry out indignantly about the injustice of the war; conservatives continue to suggest that the war was justified and that liberals are appealing to emotions rather than to facts for their positions. I stay out of the discussion for the most part because I think being informed enough about the matter from unbiased sources is pretty much impossible for average Joes, so my input is only so valuable. But when somebody posted the following message, I had to respond.

There was a vote in the House on Friday. The vote was on H Res 612 “Expressing the commitment of the House of Representatives to achieving victory in Iraq.” Believe it or not, 108 Democrats voted no. Think about it, 108 Democrats are now on record as opposing victory in Iraq. There’s your “loyal” opposition…

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll648.xml

And here’s how I responded:

Try reading the resolution. The summary you provide is one of eight major points, several of which I can see people not being comfortable voting for. You can read the full text at http://thomas.loc.gov (it’s a short resolution and an easy read). [Note that I actually pasted in a URL that didn’t work b/c of the way the site handles search queries; to get the actual bill, go to the url linked and do a search on “HR Res 612”.] Problem clauses to my mind include at least the following:

  • setting an artificial timetable for the withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq, or immediately terminating their deployment in Iraq and redeploying them elsewhere in the region, is fundamentally inconsistent with achieving victory in Iraq;
  • the House of Representatives has unshakable confidence that, with the support of the American people and the Congress, United States Armed Forces, along with Iraqi and Coalition forces, shall achieve victory in Iraq

In the first case, many representatives have already expressed opinions to the contrary and so couldn’t vote yea on this resolution in good conscience. In the second, it seems clear that many representatives think we’ve botched this thing and that there’s not “unshakable” confidence that we’ll win. It’s a stupid resolution whose aim is to make those voting against it look bad by putting them in a corner so that they feel as if they have to vote for it or look like they’re not in favor of victory because that’s the controversial point everybody’ll zoom in on.

Highlighting the one point without even acknowledging that there are others that might complicate things strikes me as being pretty dishonest. I’m sure there are many conservative pundits and propagandists who’re doing just this sort of thing. Sadly, liberals do it too.

The moral, of course, is that headlines and blurbs don’t tell the whole story, and you can’t usually trust either the left-wing or the right-wing source from which you got a given controversial snippet.

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