Washington is shuttered for the day; there are some cities where only a third or a quarter of office drones ditch work for Martin Luther King’s birthday, and this isn’t one of them.
Five days earlier the president grabbed the news cycle with both hands and announced, after weeks of buildup, that he was going to kick over Jim Baker’s sandcastle and send more troops to Iraq. Not 20,000 troops, like the rubes were expecting; nope, a full 21,500. And if it turns out that 21,501 more troops were what we needed to transmogrify Iraq into Switzerland, that’ll be a shame, but at least we tried. The whole, seemingly unstoppable sequence of events was giving Democrats an extremely gloomy day off.
“The people put us in power because they want an end to this war,” Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich says.
Kucinich is frustrated, and understandably so. He ran for president in 2004 on a crystal-clear anti-war platform, and was laughed off the stage by the city’s pundit class. He watched the Democrats wrestle Congress from Republicans in large part because of that war’s unpopularity. Two years later the White House is sending more troops to Iraq, he’s running for president on an anti-war platform, and he’s being laughed off the stage by pundits.
“It’s almost as if the November elections never happened,” Kucinich says. “The default position of the Democratic Party is to stay in Iraq. You win the election and then you take the war off the table? You promise not to defund the war, which you are constitutional empowered to do? I fundamentally reject that, and I will do everything in my power to stop this war.”
How much power does Kucinich have? Better question: Who actually has the power to contest the troop surge when Congress gets its next funding request in February? Rep. John Murtha, the congressman celebrating his 33rd year in Washington by chairing the Defense subcommittee of Appropriations, has informed all askers that he’s going to conduct hearings when the question comes up “I don't know how many troops they can get in the field before we get our bill up and passed in the Congress,” he told the Washington Post.