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 Politics: Can Democrats Stop the Iraq War?

The NewsMedia flunk constitutional question on war funding

Fair.org (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) Media Advisory

Summing up the media's conventional wisdom about the congressional vote to approve funding for the Iraq War with no timeline for withdrawal, the Los Angeles Times wrote on May 25: "Unable to overcome the president's veto of their plan to set a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops, Democrats have been left to focus on what to do next."

That, in a nutshell, is what was wrong with the coverage of the war funding debate. In fact, if the Democrat-controlled Congress wanted to force the Bush administration to accept a bill with a withdrawal timeline, it didn't have to pass the bill over Bush's veto—it just had to make clear that no Iraq War spending bill without a timeline would be forthcoming. Given that the Constitution requires Congress to approve all spending, Bush needs Congress's approval to continue the war—Congress does not need Bush's approval to end the war...

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Democrats may not have wanted to pay the supposed political costs of such a strategy, but news coverage should have made clear that this was a choice, not something forced on them by the lack of a veto-proof majority.

Unfortunately, some leading pundits instead gave deeply misleading, unhelpful summaries of how the American constitutional system works. Here's New York Times columnist David Brooks on CNN's Reliable Sources (5/27/07): "Listen, the Democrats were quite up-front saying, 'We're going to fund the troops at the end of the day.... If we have to cave in, we will cave in.' And the reason they caved in is because of the Constitution. The Constitution gives the president power to wage war and really to manage this thing. And the Democrats never really had a potential to reverse that

Actually, the Constitution gives Congress the power "to raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years." The limit on the length of military appropriations was explained by Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist Papers (No. 24) as "a precaution which, upon a nearer view of it, will appear to be a great and real security against the keeping up of troops without evident necessity." In Federalist No. 26, he elaborated: "The legislature of the United States will be OBLIGED, by this provision, once at least in every two years, to deliberate upon the propriety of keeping a military force on foot; to come to a new resolution on the point; and to declare their sense of the matter, by a formal vote in the face of their constituents."

Mark Shields, the "left" on PBS's NewsHour (5/25/07), declared: "The Democrats had a majority. They did not have enough votes to overturn. Without any change in the administration's policy, the president was going to prevail in a showdown over funding troops." This is true only if you suppose that funding the Iraq War was more important to Congress than to Bush.

Conservative Washington Post columnist George Will was one of the few pundits who got it right, declaring himself (ABC's This Week, 5/27/07) to be in rare agreement with a prominent anti-war group: "MoveOn.org happens to be right.... They're correct as a matter of constitutional fact, which is that the Democrats could stop the war if they chose. They choose not to."


Feel free to respond to FAIR. We can't reply to everything, but we will look at each message. We especially appreciate documented examples of media bias or censorship. And please send copies of your correspondence with media outlets, including any responses, to: [email protected]


Reprinted as permitted with this notice:
From: Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
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"Can Democrats Stop the Iraq War?" | Login/Create an Account | 5 comments | Search Discussion
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Re: Can Democrats Stop the Iraq War? (Score: 1)
by -Z on Monday, June 04 @ 18:48:41 EDT
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The two party system is what it has become; an incremental tool to bring America into the New World Order. That Grand Old Oak Tree that stands despite the eons is axed away from the left and the right...the right wants your urine sample and the left wants your guns... Can the Dems stop the war?.......it's only just heating up, yet winding down...the 'war' is your liberty; both parties fear your liberty and the Constitution of The United States Of America stands in their way (whats left of it). Evil has many faces...but these two are the easiest to identify and eliminate. God Bless The Second Amendment.........GIVE US OUR CONSTITUTION BACK OR ELSE! Ron Paul (R-Texas) is pretty much our last hope amongst the candidates running for the top office '08. I fear it's pretty much too late......lock 'n load -Z

Re: Can Democrats Stop the Iraq War? (Score: 1)
by -Z on Monday, June 04 @ 21:07:47 EDT
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Re: Can Democrats Stop the Iraq War? (Score: 1)
by -Z on Monday, June 04 @ 21:12:07 EDT
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Re: Can Democrats Stop the Iraq War? (Score: 1)
by -Z on Monday, June 04 @ 21:24:13 EDT
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Re: Can Democrats Stop the Iraq War? (Score: 1)
by -Z on Monday, June 04 @ 22:07:23 EDT
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Hopefully helpful: http://prisonplanet.tv/members/video/062806_bb.mov? Worthwhile for certain.

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