I agree with the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate — I too believe their Republican colleagues are heading for a rough August back home with their constituents, chatting about the Iraq war. Fortunately for Republicans, however, not only has some slight progress been reported in Iraq, but the Democrats gave them another talking point to take home so they no longer have to sound like robots, repeatedly saying, "We await the report of General Petraeus in September." 

This week Democrats decided against taking any more Iraq votes, compromises Republicans could support that could provide them political cover. One of those includes a measure by, get this, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.). The Murtha plan, to begin withdrawal within 60 days of passage but without a deadline for completion, attracted Republican support but was shut down by anti-war groups. Another plan popular with the GOP, authored by one of the most liberal Democrats — Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii — called for a report from the administration within 60 days on plans to reduce force levels in Iraq. It passed in the House Armed Services Committee last week with broad support but has been shelved for now by the leadership.

There's icing on this cake. Take this statement from Tom Mattzie, Washington director for MoveOn.org: "The Republicans did not get any political cover votes going into August and we have set an ambush for them."

With political gamesmanship like this, who needs political cover votes?


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