Congress's Iraq resolution: Political silliness

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When is enough enough? Last week, it was gay marriage. Next week, it's flag burning. But today (and yesterday), there was congressional silliness about a dead serious issue–Iraq. The Republican-led House adopted a resolution calling for a continuing presence in Iraq, 256 to 153, with 42 Democrats voting in favor.

In case you hadn't heard, Congress was preoccupied for the past couple of days debating a completely nonbinding resolution about what happens next in Iraq. Or, more to the point, about political slogans about what happens next–as in "complete the mission" if you're a Republican, or a timetable for withdrawal, if you're a Democrat.

That's just terrific. After all, it's great bumper-sticker politics for the GOP to be able to force the Dems into a corner, saying all they want to do is "cut and run." And it may also be good for the Dems to play to their constituencies–which are overwhelmingly against the war–by having the debate.

But in truth, it benefits no one. It's too cute, and accomplishes nothing. Does anyone really believe that actual policy is being debated here? The honest truth here is that neither side is happy with the status quo in Iraq, but neither side is able to do anything about it. The votes are not binding on the Bush White House, and serve only to reinforce the views of a public that is largely already dug in. It's all about politics, of course–Republicans trying to make lemonade out of lemons, trying to corner the Dems, slap a silly label on war views and be done with it.

It's about the November campaign–and if this level of discourse is a sign of things to come, why doesn't Congress just adjourn now? We'd all be better off.