- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2007

As Democrats compete with each other over who can craft the most innovative surrender plan for Iraq, the idea of repealing the 2002 resolution authorizing the war is becoming a popular method of political pandering. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden suggested rewriting the resolution to scale back the U.S. role in Iraq, but came under fire from war opponents who thought any resolution could be taken as a sign of support for the war. Judging from the polls it hasn’t done much to bolster his presidential campaign.

Last week, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd made their own proposal to repeal the resolution. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson would apparently go further than Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Byrd; he makes the bizarre claim that Congress can enact such a measure without worrying about inconvenient things like a presidential veto. He admits that issue would most likely end up in the courts — raising the prospect that sometime next year, the Supreme Court could be deciding whether the war against Iraq-based jihadists can continue.

But most of the attention right now is focused on Mrs. Clinton, who is in trouble with the far-left base of the Democratic Party because of her vote five years ago in favor of going to war in Iraq, which was proceeded by a lengthy Senate speech explaining how dangerous Saddam Hussein was. But the war isn’t terribly popular these days, so Mrs. Clinton is faced with a political problem: how to tell the left-wing base of the party that she opposes the war, while leaving herself plenty of wiggle room to pretend she is relatively “tough on terrorism” in a general election campaign in which Daily Kos and the Huffington Post will be much less influential. This insurance policy could prove essential if the new strategy put into effect by Gen. David Petraeus substantially improves the situation on the ground.

As she comes under fire from the left, Mrs. Clinton defends herself by pointing out that in 2002, even as she was voting for the war, she also supported a Senate amendment offered by the anti-war Mr. Byrd that would have limited the original authorization for the use of force to one year. The amendment was overwhelmingly defeated; had it come into force, the United States would have withdrawn from from Iraq by election day 2004, and Iraq today would look like Afghanistan under Taliban rule: a safe haven for Islamist terrorists and their training camps. The real purpose behind this grandstanding is to give Mrs. Clinton political cover to talk tough against the war while simultaneously voting to appropriate funds to support our troops in the field. It is a sad commentary on the state of the Democratic Party today that Mrs. Clinton finds it politically necessary to engage in such shameless demagoguery.

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