Twenty-nine Democratic Senators voted in October 2002 in favor of House Joint Resolution 114, "To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq." In subsequent years as the war proved to be long, bloody and expensive, as we learned that there were no "weapons of mass destruction," and above all as the war became exceedingly unpopular with the public, there was plenty of weaseling and squirming and rationalizing about that vote. Democrats among the 29 have basically two lines: first, they were misled about the facts, and second, they respected the president's executive prerogatives.
Yesterday we saw a breathtaking buckling under by Senate Democrats who were stampeded by absurd rhetoric about "releasing terrorists on to the streets of America," exacerbated by overblown accounts of former detainees returning to the struggle and a general demonizing of all of the 200-odd men still held in Guantanamo. Stampeded, that is, by spurious and exaggerated claims that many of them undoubtedly knew to be so. Forty-eight Democrats voted for Amendment 1133 which stripped $80 million of funding to close Guantanamo from House Resolution 2346 which, by the way, authorized $91.3 billion for more war funding.
But the cravenness of this isn't even what bugs me most. It was the other half of the original 29 pro-war Democrats' rationalization that I'm thinking about today. "Hey," they said, "we supported the Republican president. We gave him what he wanted. We got in line like good soldiers." So I'm wondering: was there something about first-term President George W. Bush that inspired such institutional loyalty, such faith in the executive's good intentions, that first-term President Barack Obama lacks? And there are sixteen Democratic Senators who I would particularly like to hear answer that question: the 16 who were among the 29 Democratic senators who voted to authorize the war in 2002, and were also among the 48 Democratic senators who voted yesterday to deny President Obama funds to close Guantanamo.
Here, in alphabetical order, is the Gang of Sixteen: Democrats who gave Bush what he wanted to make the mess (basically because they were politically cowardly and willfully obtuse) and refused to give Obama what he needs to clean the mess up (basically because they are politically cowardly and willfully obtuse):
Some of them are very prominent, some of them talk a pretty good game - all of them should be ashamed.