2008 Democratic frontrunners Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) both announced today that they will vote on Wednesday to cut off funds, and establish a troop withdrawal deadline for the Iraq war. Obama said in a written statement that, “Tomorrow, I expect cloture votes on two other proposals. One is the Reid-Feingold plan, which would begin a withdrawal of troops in 120 days and end all combat operations on April 1. The other is Senator Levin’s proposal, which would create standards and benchmarks for additional funding. I will support both, not because I believe either is the best answer, but because I want to send a strong statement to the Iraqi government, the President and my Republican colleagues that it’s long past time to change course. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to press for my own plan and work to find the 16 votes in the Senate to pass it with a veto-proof majority and bring our troops home quickly, safely and responsibly.”

After Obama released his statement, Clinton released her own statement. In it she promised to vote for the amendments in the name of party unity. “When the Senate votes on motions to allow debate on both the Feingold-Reid and Levin-Reid Amendments, I will vote for cloture on both. I do so because we, as a united party, must work together with clarity of purpose and mission to begin bringing our troops home and end this war,” she said. She also said that she is going to keep working to get the war de-authorized. “I will continue to pursue with Senator Byrd our legislation to deauthorize the war by October 11, 2007. I will continue to do everything in my power to convince the president to change course and to work with my colleagues in the Senate to bring an end to this war as soon as possible,” Clinton said.

I get the impression that neither of them really supports the amendments they will be voting for tomorrow, but they feel that they must vote for them for the sake of political appearances. Both of these candidates know that there is zero chance of either amendment getting the 60 votes which they need to pass. The benefit for Clinton and Obama here is that neither one of them actually supports cutting off funding for the war, or a withdrawal deadline, but tomorrow’s votes allow them to create the appearance that they do. Clinton especially has been opposed to a deadline for withdrawing the troops. Last June Clinton said, “Nor do I think it is smart strategy to set a date certain. I do not agree that that is in the best interest of our troops or our country.”

I am more than a little disappointed that both of these candidates would choose to play politics right now. My guess is that if these amendments really had a chance at passing Obama would vote against cutting off funds, and Clinton would against imposing a deadline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. I understand the political practicality behind these votes, but neither of these candidates should think that they are fooling anybody. If anything calculated votes, like the ones that they will cast tomorrow, make them both seem like pandering politicians. I am sure these votes will make for some great campaign ads for Clinton, Obama, and the Republican who will run against either of them next fall.

Obama Statement

Clinton Statement

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse blog radio

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