Under the heading “An Antiwar Tide on the Rise,” The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne tells us that last week’s House vote to withdraw US forces from Iraq “was hugely significant.”
Specifically, according to Dionne, it tested and proved “the resolve of the new House Democratic leadership and its ability to pull together an ideologically diverse membership behind a plan pointing the United States out of Iraq.” Hardly.
In truth, the vote was nothing more than a test of Speaker Pelosi’s ability to use log-rolling and lard to win votes. And that’s what she did—with gusto. The Wall Street Journal (here and here) and The Washington Examiner (here) dissect the pork payoffs: $25 million for spinach, $20 million for farmland damaged by icy weather, $74 million for peanut storage, $500 million to prevent forest fires, $20 million to fight insect infestation in Nevada, $3.5 million for guided tours in DC, $13 million for ewe replacement, $24 million for sugar-beet growers, $95 million for dairy farmers. A Senate version includes $50 million apiece for the Democratic and Republican conventions. “All told,” as the Journal sharply concludes, “some $20 billion in vote-buying earmarks of the kind the Democrats campaigned against last year.”
And it worked, gaining Speaker Pelosi a razor-thin 218 votes for an antiwar, pro-pork disgrace masquerading as “supplemental appropriations for the global war on terror.” Now I see what Dionne means when he writes that “antiwar Democrats…discovered a common interest with their moderate colleagues.”
Some of us derided this practice under the previous Congress, although backroom arm-twisting and back-scratching are far less repulsive when used to pass highway bills and the like. Recall that this bill was supposed to provide emergency funding for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, it became a grab bag of goodies for the war’s fence-setters, a sop to the antiwar left and a poison pill for the President.
To oppose this war on principle is laudable, if shortsighted. To oppose this war because of a pork payoff is disgraceful.
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