Presented for your edification: David Brooks on those legislative giants, those profiles in courage, the Senate Republicans:
"I personally think the Senate will do nothing to change Iraq policy at least for another three or four months.
And that's for a couple of reasons. One, a lot of Republicans who detest where the White House is are furious at Harry Reid. And a colleague of mine wrote a good piece today saying that partisan feeling, rancor in the Senate was already phenomenally high, but now it's extra-phenomenally high. And over this issue, a lot of Republicans would like to peel off from the president, but they feel that Harry Reid is making it impossible. He's taking this as an issue, forcing them to vote with the president for political reasons. So that's stalled it on partisan grounds.
And then the second issue, which I think has been looming up, especially in private conversations, is what comes next?"
Mark Shields protests:
"But on the first part, the frayed emotions and feelings in the Senate, I get a kick out of this. I mean, we are not debating here capital gains tax cuts. We're debating war and peace and lives.
And if somebody's feelings are hurt -- you know, I mean everyone has made a big thing out of John Warner making a big speech and Dick Lugar making a big speech, respected members, and George Voinovich. You know, Jack Kennedy said, "The easy part is making the speeches. The tough part is making the decisions and making the votes."
And, you know, there's a great test in Washington. You know, "I'm outraged, I'm upset." What are you going to do about it? What are you going to do about it? And what are they going to do about it? What are these people going to do about it?
I mean, I'm sorry that Harry Reid didn't somehow hold Arlen Specter's hand, and Arlen Specter is upset. He talked to the New York Times about being hurt and taken umbrage. That's fine. But this is a big, big issue. And we have to be grown-ups at this point."
"DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I'll just tell you that, in private conversations months ago, Republican senators, senior Republican senators were anxious to move away from the White House, to move towards some sort of withdrawal. Now they're not talking that way. They're talking, "We've got to stick with the president." And why? Two words: Harry Reid."
If David Brooks is right, then "senior Republican senators" are planning to cast their votes on the question what to do in Iraq -- whether to try to salvage some kind of decent outcome at the cost of people's lives, or to leave now -- not on the basis of what is actually best for Iraq, or for our country, or for our troops, or for our long-term national interests, but because of "Two words: Harry Reid." According to Brooks, they feel that Harry Reid "they feel that Harry Reid is making it impossible" for them to break with the President.
News flash for the Senate Republicans: it is impossible for a human being to fly simply by flapping her hands, or to be in two places at once, or to be a prime number when she grows up. It is not impossible for Senators to vote against the President. It isn't even all that difficult. Senators are an extraordinarily privileged bunch. Even if they lose the next election, they can look forward to lucrative careers as lobbyists, speakers, members of boards, and so forth. At worst, they will just exchange one cushy job for another. They are not in anything like the position of a witness to a gang shooting who risks her life to come forward as a witness, or a police officer who turns in his corrupt superiors.
They are certainly not in anything like the position of the men and women their cowardice places in harm's way, or the Iraqi father whose home is flattened and his children killed when a missile goes astray, or the soldier with undiagnosed PTSD who is ordered out for his fourth deployment because our representatives were just too mad at Harry Reid to do what they thought was right.
Not, of course, that they would have done it anyways. They manage to tell all sorts of people in private that they do not believe that this President's policies can work, and that they are longing -- longing, I tell you -- to break with him. Some of them actually muster the courage to make speeches in which they are, gasp, critical of the President. But very, very few of them are willing to actually do anything about it. That, apparently, would just be too much to ask. Impossible, even.
Instead, they go on asking vastly more than they are prepared to give of people we have asked too much of already.
They should be ashamed.