Who's Got the Urge to Surge?


Robert Novak (who, it's often forgotten, opposed the Iraq war) reports that support for a McCain-Bush escalation of the Iraq doesn't exist in Congress.

President Bush and McCain, the front-runner for the next presidential nomination, in pressing for a surge of 30,000 more troops, will have trouble finding support from more than 12 out of 49 Republican senators. "It's Alice in Wonderland," Sen. Chuck Hagel, second-ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, told me in describing the proposed surge. "I'm absolutely opposed to sending any more troops to Iraq. It is folly."

Among Democrats, Lieberman stands alone. Sen. Joseph Biden, as Foreign Relations Committee chairman, leads the rest of the Democrats not only to oppose a surge but to block it. Bush enters a new world of a Democratic majority where the big microphone he talks about is smaller because he must share the stage.

If you want to go with that "stage" metaphor, the Iraq debate is a Comedians of Comedy tour and Bush is coming to the stage as Gallagher. Fewer members of the new Senate support escalation than support a Kucinich-style pullout of all troops. John Kerry's amendment to withdraw troops by July 2007 got thirteen votes in a Senate that didn't yet include Jon Tester, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Jim Webb.

The Senate isn't in the habit of shunning foreign adventures, but if the McCain plan plays out the way it's been playing out, they'll probably cast the first major vote of no confidence in a major foreign conflict since the 1970s. There's literally no political benefit to supporting escalation, and that's all these people care about.