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Have Democrats Found a Political Fix for the Iraq War?

You may think that war strategy is all about winning. But winning what? Hostilities actually began in Afghanistan just weeks after September 11, 2001, when it was believed that the terrorists had been trained in Afghanistan. Then Iraq was invaded because President Bush believed that Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction. For six years, the U.S. has been waging war in the Middle East.

During the last four years, the war in Iraq has drained public attention from Afghanistan. For politicians trying to read the will of the people (after all, thats their job), its become clear that Iraq is an unpopular war and that they want to see U.S. troops withdrawn. But the president doesnt agree, and neither do his war supporters in Congress.

When the Democrats gained a small majority in both houses of Congress last November, there were signs that the Democratic leadership ( Senator Harry Reid and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi ) could spark the beginning of a troop pullout. It hasnt happened. Democrats capitulated when it came to refusing to approve the billions it takes to run such a war. They debated. They blustered. They blamed. But they didnt have the votes. Their promise was far brighter than what they delivered. And they had no other way to enforce a firm timeline for troop withdrawal.

So theyve retrenched and now it looks like a baby step has been accomplished. Last Tuesday night, Democratic Tennessee Congressman John Tanners H.R. 3087 passed the House of Representatives with a huge majority: 377 to 46 . It is a troop withdrawal bill - kind of. Actually, its a resolution requiring the administration to report quarterly to Congress on its military plan for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq.

As with war, this strategy is all about winning and in this political battle over troop withdrawal, even a baby step could signal a change. Democrats apparently are willing to start much, much smaller to launch a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. They finally have a success with HR 3087. Now it goes on to the Senate where there are more Republicans who might resist even this tiny acknowledgement of an eventual troop pullout. If the Senate GOP reacts the way the House Republicans did, this resolution will be veto-proof. There will easily be two-thirds of each House to override a potential veto by the president.

Oh yes! Did I mention that all five of San Diegos Members of Congress supported the resolution? Ive called several of them to ask why they voted for the measure. So far, Ive heard from press relations personnel for Democratic Congresswoman Susan Davis and Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray. Aaron Hunter (Davis) told me that this is another step that Democrats are trying to take to reassert Congresss constitutional authority for providing oversight and accountability. No word about troop pullout. Kurt Bardella (Bilbray) said that all the bill did was call for something that was already being done ... if this is all that they (Democrats) can do, it was an exercise in political vanity because it doesnt change one way or another. More to come as I hear from the others. Meanwhile, we are still in a war that is all about winning... something.

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