I have grown truly exhausted, and so I am going to take my first weekend "off" in a while to go to North Carolina and speak at the young Democrats convention in Greensboro, North Carolina. I do not intend to make any posts tomorrow, Saturday, or Sunday.
Looking around the `sphere today, I have noticed that a lot of other people seem to be tired as well. It is always easy--and dangerous--to project the way you feel onto others, so perhaps I should not assume that others in the political and activist world are simply feeling like me when it comes to the supplemental fight, but the anecdotal evidence is strong. In the blogosphere, when it comes to the Iraq supplemental debate in the House, discussion seems to be dying off. No diaries, whether for or against the bill, are reaching the recommended list at Dailykos. Dairies on this subject are not even generating much discussion anymore, which certainly was not the case over the last weekend (see here
). Much the same is happening at BooMan Tribune
. In other areas of the netroots, MoveOn.org's vote on the bill had a fairly small 4% click-thru rate. While that actually isn't that bad for a large email list, and while it certainly does not invalidate the bill (statistically speaking, 85% for one position, even at a 4% response rate, makes it perfectly clear that a very sizable majority of MoveOn.org members are in favor of supporting the bill, at least in the way that the bill was described in the email), it does show a generally lower amount of passion on both sides than one might have expected. In the news, both established and independent, other stories, including the Edwards announcement and the ongoing U.S. Attorney's scandal, are clearly taking precedence for both most people and most outlets. We seem to have arrived a rather odd moment where the number one issue in the country, and the number of issue in the 2006 election, is undergoing its first legislative fight of the new Congress, and yet somehow is not the center of either national or activist attention.
Before I head off, and before tomorrow's vote, I wanted to offer one final perspective on the Iraq supplemental fight. Right now, with few remaining progressives willing to vote against the supplemental bill, and with the House leadership probably having enough votes to pass it (for more on this, see here
), the remaining progressive opposition is being cast as "principled," in contrast to the "pragmatic" progressives who have decided to vote in support. This is certainly the dichotomy proposed by McJoan in her latest piece on the supplemental over at Dailykos
. This is a binary opposition with which I disagree, primarily because I have always looked at ethics from an applied perspective, where the ethical value of a given action can only be judged in the context of the consequences of that action. In this circumstance, I am, not arguing that voting against the supplemental from the a progressive stance is unethical, just that it is not any more ethical than voting in favor.
Consider a crude summary of both sides of the debate right now:
- Those opposed to the bill tend to argue either that all funding measures should be defeated, or that this specific funding measure should be defeated because it does not go far enough. This bill should be scrapped, and a better bill / no bill should be put forward.
- Those in favor of voting yes argue that this is the best we can do at the current time, that it has provisions that will force Bush to either drawn-down / end the war or conduct it illegally, and that if this bill is defeated an even weaker bill will be put forward in its place.
Let's assume for the moment that part of both claims are true: the current bill will not result in the war being either ended or de-escalated, and that if it is defeated a weaker bill we not only be put forward, but it will also pass. Personally, I think that both of these claims are probably correct. Whether or not the language in this bill is binding, Bush won't follow the language, will issue a signing statement, or will simply veto it. Also, whether or not people want to believe it, and whether or not the Democratic House leadership gets behind it, if this bill is defeated in the House a new coalition will emerge in the House that will pass an even weaker bill. So, in reality, neither plan will probably stop, or even slow down, the war.
Now, from an applied ethical perspective that views the war as immoral and unethical, if neither plan will actually bring an end, or even result a in de-escalation, then I don't think either plan has the clear moral high ground as the "ethical" position. Both will probably result in the same consequence, and thus the two positions have equal ethical values. Even if we look at this from an intentions perspective, both sides can also claim that at least they are trying
to end the war, either by trying to defeat all funding for the continued occupation, or by trying to incrementally move toward a point where opponents of the war have enough clout in D.C. to bring the war to and end once and for all. In fact, both sides will probably argue that they are simultaneously engaging in both short-term and long-term actions, and both are probably right.
My point is this: don't tell me that I am less principled, moral or ethical than you because I am supporting this measure even though I don't think it goes far enough. I am certainly not going to do the same thing to you, because I don't really see how either of our positions will result in a more ethically acceptable outcome. I arrived at my position because, in my final analysis, I believed the politics of the situation demanded it. You could respond that I should appreciate the ethical values of actions in and of themselves, rather than in the context of their consequences, but if that is your position than ultimately it represents an ideological difference between the two of us that will not be settled either in the discussion of this post, or before the House vote tomorrow. I do not see an ethical high ground in the progressive debate on this vote, and thus political considerations take precedence. Now, I don't think we handled the politics of this vote as well as we could have, but a progressive engineered defeat of this bill would make the political situation even worse. Republicans have to be the ones who hold this bill up, and / or fail to implement it, not Democrats and not progs. If the war will continue either way, then it must be clear that it was their decision to continue it, not ours.
I have placed the progressive caucus's statement on the vote in the extended entry. They have struck a deal that now gives the leadership enough votes to pass the bill. Progressives were, as the release states, decisive in this debate.