The were against their resolution before they were for it

Or something like that. After Monday’s Senate vote blocking debate on the non-binding anti-surge resolution, the start of this article in Thursday’s Post struck me as highly confusing:

Senate Republicans who earlier this week helped block deliberations on a resolution opposing President Bush’s new troop deployments in Iraq changed course yesterday and vowed to use every tactic at their disposal to ensure a full and open debate.

I had to read on for a while to figure out why they had this sudden change of heart.

Five of the seven Senate signatories to yesterday’s letter — including Warner, the bipartisan resolution’s chief author — had voted Monday to block the debate. By showing party solidarity, they had hoped to pressure Democrats into allowing the consideration of other nonbinding measures, namely two that are more supportive of the administration’s policy. But Democratic leaders refused to relent, and the long-awaited war debate — or at least the opening chapter — ended almost as soon as it began.

I’m not completely clear why you would vote against opening a debate on your own resolution because you wanted the debate to be open to others’ differing resolutions as well. It gives the impression that Warner et al aren’t so serious about their support of the resolution they are purportedly backing if they will toss it aside like this just to give a chance to other more administration-friendly versions. Republicans also need to get used to being in the minority now and not in total control of what comes to the floor any more.

The full letter, reproduced here, is hardly iluminating on this point. It says:

We strongly believe the Senate should be allowed to work its will on our resolution as well as the concepts brought forward by other Senators. Monday’s procedural vote should not be interpreted as any lessening of our resolve to go forward advocating the concepts of S. Con. Res. 7.

Well, like it or not, that’s how it will continue to be interpreted. Considering it took me a few minutes even to figure out the ostensible point they are trying to make, only to reject it as seeming insincere, I think the dominant narrative will remain that GOP senators acted as obstructionists to protect the president from criticism of his Iraq policy. They will have to do better than this, especially considering some of the Republicans in the spotlight face reelection battles in 2008.

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