Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Footnote to the preceding, On The Other Hand Div.

This is old news as these things go, but I still wanted to mention it because, contrary to McConnell's blather, it's something of which I think insufficient note was taken, including on the blogs.

Last week, as the House was debating funding the Iraq occupation, a vote was taken on a proposal by the Out of Iraq caucus to require a troop withdrawal to begin within three months and to be completed six months after that. It was handily defeated, 255-171.

But wait. It got 171 votes? Really? The first time a clean bill came up, one that would require getting out of Iraq in no more than nine months, no evasions, no loopholes, no "benchmarks," just "that's it, we're outta here," got 171 votes in the House? Got 40% of the vote?

. That's every bit as good as the first "out of Vietnam" proposal did in the Senate back in 1970. That was the McGovern-Hatfield amendment, which would have required withdrawal in roughly 15 months. Remember, that vote was taken after five years of major combat and at a time when there were 334,000 US troops in Vietnam and the US death toll was pushing 50,000, including over 40,000 killed in action - and after quite literally millions of people in the US had protested the war the previous fall. (In fact, the link, which says two million protested, may well understate it: Estimates at the time ran up to seven million.)

Given all that, I find a total of 171 votes in this case not only worthy of note but actually quite encouraging, a clear sign that the widespread disillusionment among the public about the bloody chaos we have unleashed on Iraq is penetrating the halls of Congress.

Footnote to the footnote: Looking up stuff for this, I came across this article from Salon from January which lays out the lesson from Vietnam that the political danger arises not from opposition to the war but from insufficient opposition.

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