Steny Hoyer says that Democrats may update the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. It's an interesting idea - politically. To Democrats, it may seem attractive because it could shift the emphasis away from undercutting the President's authority, in favor of an affirmative move to prosecute the war:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democrats may push a new bill authorizing the use of force in Iraq -- replacing the 2002 bill that allowed the Bush administration to proceed with the war, a top Democrat said Friday.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer -- number two in the House behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- said that is one step Democrats might pursue to change conditions in Iraq.
After a series of congressional hearings on the war, "we will then explore appropriate ways to affect the policy and strategy being pursued in Iraq," Hoyer said in a speech at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
"Possible vehicles" include spending bills for military and diplomatic activities in Iraq "and possibly a revised authorization for the use of military force in Iraq that more accurately reflects the mission of our troops on the ground," he said.
Next week, the Senate is expected to pass a bipartisan resolution opposing President Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq, and, Hoyer said, the House will likely pass an identical bipartisan resolution.
The problem is that it's hard to put lipstick on a pig. Congressional Democrats don't support the military effort in Iraq; the majority of Democrats wants to pull out as soon as possible. But as we have seen, they are unwilling to force a withdrawal by cutting off funds; they're unwilling even to cut off funds for the surge. So what will Hoyer's 'new authorization' call for?
Hoyer can try to change the focus, but the resolution has to say something. And right now, the Democrast won't go on the record forcing a pullout, and they certainly won't go on the record in favor of continuing the operation. And however strong their feeling about the mission and the President, they still can't escape the political calculus: they want the President to be entirely responsible for whatever happens, even as they carp and criticize.
Until that changes, Democrats are limited to talking. For now at least, that's all Hoyer's 'new authorization' represents.
Hoyer's rationale for the timing of this move is interesting though:
"Frankly, it is time for the president to accept that we are no longer involved in a nation-building exercise, we are involved in conflict resolution."
I remember back when we tried to avoid nation building. Times sure change, huh?