So after all the pants-wetting over a promised blowhard blowout all-nighter, Reid let them go home. Most of them, anyway:
Although Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) initially warned that votes on legislation to withdraw combat troops could occur at any time during the night, he agreed shortly after midnight to delay even procedural votes until 5 a.m. and to put off until 11 a.m. a vote on legislation to bring home most troops by May.
That meant most senators could grab a few hours of shut-eye, so long as a few remained in the chamber at any given time to continue a debate which offered little, if any, movement toward resolving the stalemate over how to end the war.
No sooner had Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that there would be no procedural votes between midnight and 5 a.m., then a mass exodus of senators started as many legislators headed to their cars to go home for some much needed sleep. As the senators streamed towards their cars in the Capitol parking lot, TV cameras spotted a rowdy group of Code Pink protesters greeting them with jeers and cheers, depending on the senators’ stances on the Iraq war…
Poor Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, was not only heckled by the people in pink, but also lost his car in the dark Capitol parking lot. After minutes of wandering around aimlessly with a policeman by his side, all the while being jeered by the protesters at every turn, Stevens finally found his car and headed out into the night.
Bob Schieffer’s verdict on the sleepover: “It pretty much widened the partisan divide.” Of course it did. Go read what the Iraqi ambassador and a colleague of his have to say about withdrawal, noting especially the comment about the “fuzzy thinking” behind Baker-Hamilton. That’s the plan that’s going to win over the Republican fencesitters to the Democrats’ side. The Iraqis seem to think we shouldn’t even bother.
Update: Bush doesn’t need congressional approval to implement Baker-Hamilton, as far as I know. If he decides that’s how he wants to go, he simply pulls most troops out, tasks the ones who are left with hitting AQ and protecting trainers, and that’s it. He’s already pursuing one strand of B-H’s recommendations without any input from Congress; if it ever comes to the point where they have the votes to force his end, I suspect he’ll simply beat them to the punch by adopting B-H himself and then pretending like he wanted to do it all along.
Update: It’s come to this:
The office of Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) dispatched interns to buy toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant for delivery to GOP leadership offices, with a note offering the “supplies for your sleepless night.” It added: “Help us bring an end to this war.”
Update: Most of them — Reid, Durbin, Ike Skelton, etc. — won’t speculate on the consequences of withdrawal. A few of them — Murtha, Biden, Lynn Woolsey — think it won’t be that bad.
Some of them fear the worst, though, and are prepared for it.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s horrendous,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.), who has helped spearhead efforts against the war. “The only hope for the Iraqis is their own damned government, and there’s slim hope for that.”…
[W]earied by U.S. casualties and pessimistic about the chances that American troops could stop a full-blown civil war, many lawmakers are resigned to letting Iraq’s communities fight it out.
“It will grow,” predicted Oregon Sen. Gordon H. Smith, one of three Senate Republicans backing the Democratic withdrawal plan. “But it will burn itself out. That’s how civil wars are fought. That’s just the brutal truth.”
Update: Confirmed — the sleepover was a complete waste of time. 52-47 on cloture.
Update: Fourteen percent. Adjusting for the usual leftward tilt of most Zogby polls, that means the actual favorable rating is about -11%.
Update: Our crap politics — having failed to get his up or down vote, Reid throws a tantrum by yanking the entire defense policy bill from the floor.