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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

GOP Diss of Troops Overshadows MoveOn Ad

Whatever traction the GOP had in sliming Democrats as troop-bashers because of MoveOn’s General Petraeus ad has been replaced by spinning wheels as a result of the Senate Republicans’ vote against the Webb amendment. Webb’s proposal would have provided American soldiers serving in Iraq with guaranteed time at home at least equal to their length of service in Iraq, before being sent back into battle. (For complete vote tally, click here).
The MoveOn ad was a non-issue even before the Webb amendment vote, based on the GOP’s trying to equate the organization with the Democratic Party. It’s one thing for an independent liberal organization to criticize one general, rightly or wrongly. It’s quite another for all but six Republican Senators to vote against giving our soldiers in Iraq a much needed break. Every Democratic Senator voted for the Webb amendment, which was supported by veterans’ organizations. The inescapable conclusion is that when it comes to providing substantive support and relief for our troops, only one Party shows up, and it sure ain’t the GOP.
Republicans will still try to trot out the MoveOn ad as somehow indicative of Democratic disrespect for our soldiers serving in Iraq. But it will have a very hollow ring from now on, since the GOP blew its best chance to show meaningful support of our men and women in battle.
Outgoing Republican Senator John Warner, performed the ultimate flip-flop on the Webb Amendment, saying “I endorsed it…I intend now to cast a vote against it.” He isn’t running for re-election next year, but the Republican running for his seat will likely reap a bitter whirlwind. As WaPo’s Dana Milbank noted in his report on the Webb amendment vote, “Pro-war Republicans, who had been grumbling about Warner’s perfidy for weeks, suddenly celebrated him as an American hero.”
As one commenter on Milbank’s article, SarahBB, put it “The tolerance for hypocrisy in the Republican party, the art of saying one thing and doing the opposite, or projecting that which you do onto others, is truly staggering.” Another, Joy2, said it this way:

Shame on Senator Warner! I certainly thought he held the best interests of the troops in the foremost. But, alas, loyalty to the Bush administration and their continued bungling took precedence. He will have to live with the consequences as our troops burn-out and die in greater numbers.

Virginia veterans and their families will certainly remember which Senator — and which Party — was there for them when it counted. The Republicans stopped Senator Webb from getting a fillibuster-proof majority. But in so doing, they handed Webb — and all Democratic candidates — a potent example of GOP hypocrisy when it comes to supporting our women and men in uniform.
Meanwhile, Democrats can be proud of Senator Webb, and our troops have no greater champion.

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