Troop withdrawal: Partisan politics rules again

As the U.S. Senate prepared to vote on an Iraq withdrawal date Thursday, only two things were certain: President Bush would veto it if passed and it was going to be partisan politics as usual.

The outcome of the vote was of little surprise to the public. The 51 to 47, mostly party-split vote, passed through the Senate and to Bush, who had previously promised to veto any bill with a withdrawal deadline, according to The Associated Press.

Forty-eight Democrats voted for the bill, and none voted against. Two Republicans who have been publicly critical of the war — Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon — voted for the bill, but 47 voted against it.

There are many issues facing America that have clear conservative and liberal perspectives, but war is not one of them, nor is the withdrawal. So why is there such a division between the parties on the issues?

David Kang, associate professor of government at Dartmouth College, describes the “desperation” theory in his research regarding Korea as arguing “that a country might rationally decide on war if the alternatives are even worse.”

For Bush and the GOP, the alternatives are even worse.

After the fall’s elections, the Democrats took control of Congress, and next year will be Bush’s last full year in office. A pro-withdrawal vote by the GOP would mean admitting that the war had failed to reach its goal. This would almost certainly mean a Democratic victory in 2008.

By Kang’s theory, the future of Iraq remains simply in the voting numbers of Democrats and Republicans — a truly sobering thought.

Consider Pennsylvania for a moment, one of 14 states with both a Republican and Democratic senator. Their conflicting votes on this bill essentially cancel out the states’ opinions on the withdrawal vote.

This is not to say that Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey, D, and Arlen Specter, R, are wrong in their voting. However, when Pennsylvania’s 12 million people’s voices go unheard throughout the nation, there is clearly a problem.

Bush will likely veto the bill quickly and send it back to the Senate, where it requires a two-thirds majority to be overridden. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, asked the Democrats to amend the bill after the veto to drop the withdrawal and to send the $122 billion to the troops. Democratic leaders have insisted they will continue to push for the withdrawal, according to The Associated Press.

The government is supposed to be inefficient, not unproductive. Whether state residents are for or against the withdrawal, make your voice heard to your senators. It’s unlikely that the average opinion is exactly what is represented: nothing.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Collegian editorial board of Penn State University. It was made available through U-Wire.