a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Stand up Congress, don’t back down

Posted by Thomas Nephew on May 3rd, 2007

Keep ’em safe
MoveOn emergency veto rally, 5/2/2007.
Corner of Wisconsin and Western, edge of DC.
Originally uploaded by Thomas Nephew.

As advertised, I went to a MoveOn “emergency veto rally” this afternoon, one of several around the DC area. This one was right on the Maryland-DC border, near the Friendship Heights Metro station, at the corner of Wisconsin and Western Avenues — well chosen for a lot of exposure to heavy traffic from every direction.

I’d say about 50 to 60 people showed up; a coordinator passed out placards to those who didn’t have their own. (I recycled a Van Hollen lawn sign, writing “OUT OF IRAQ NOW” on the back side.*) There were mostly friendly beep-beep-beep-BEEEPs from cars, taxis, and even one Metro bus passing by, compared to only a few scowls and a single middle finger salute.

There was a little of the usual demonstration chanting, but the one I joined in fully was simply “Stand up Congress, don’t back down.” I’m with John Edwards on this — the video clip below is the ad he’s started running tonight. I think Democrats should wait a while, and then just send back the same bill Bush vetoed. My wrinkle would be to send it back in two pieces: one with the various other items (Katrina, etc.) and one with the Iraq appropriations and a timeline that’s either the same or stricter than the one Bush vetoed. That is, make him wish he’d signed this one.

Edwards anti-veto ad; contribute here.

The organizer told us after we stopped at 7 PM that phone calls to Congressional leaders would help; she singled out Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5) as a particularly good call to make. Matthew Yglesias points to a Matt Stoller (“MyDD”) post** saying he’s already in touch with Republicans about climbing down from timetables to benchmarks — but also reports “pushback from Hill folks” saying that’s the usual (royalist-)media attempts to portray divided Dems in disarray.

For my part, I left a late message at Hoyer’s office this evening thanking him for his support of the supplemental bill, and urging him to stand up to Bush with the same bill. If you want to do the same, or something similar, his number is (202) 225-4131, or call your own Representative. Credit where it’s due. I half suspected Pelosi, Reid, Hoyer, et al wouldn’t find a way to get this bill in front of Bush to veto. But I think they’ve proved they know the power of the purse is their most substantial weapon — and that they know we know it, too.

* I also wrote “Send Bush a bill with dates, not benchmarks” underneath that.
** Stoller thinks the Dems should send a 2-month no-strings bill to Bush, and let the war’s unpopularity break the will of Republicans on the Hill in the next round. There may be something to that; listening on NPR to Representative Zach Wamp (from my part of Tennessee, I’m sorry to say) saying “we know Bush isn’t popular” and defending his intransigence as “refreshing” in the face of that unpopularity seems like the kind of faint praise that can’t last. But I prefer Edwards’ advice.

EDIT, 5/3: “or call your own” text and link added.
UPDATE, 5/3: Looks like Congressional Democrats may be blinking after all. Join this MoveOn petition urging them not to:

We demand that Congress stand firm against the veto, and include a deadline to end the war in the bill it sends back to the president. No more blank checks for war.

UPDATE, 5/3: TPM’s Greg Sargent reports that Pelosi and Hoyer are denying today’s Washington Post item claiming “Democrats Back Down.” This kind of thing seems to happen to the Post more and more often these days. (Hat tip R.D.)
UPDATE, 5/4: More photos of the Friendship Heights rally by radsciencegeek and Ronit; more from around the country here.
UPDATE, 5/6: The Washington Post’s “Democrats Back Down” story is now running with a correction:

A May 3 Page One article about negotiations between President Bush and congressional Democrats over a war spending bill said the Democrats offered the first 9major [sic] concession by dropping their demand that the bill it include a deadline to bring troops home from Iraq. While Democrats are no longer pushing a firm date for troop withdrawals, party leaders did not specifically make that concession during a Wednesday meeting with Bush at the White House.

Not the best news either (emphases added) — but then again at this rate maybe there will be a correction to the correction. Via Avedon Carol (“The Sideshow”) and Greg Sargent.

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