During a conference call with reporters and bloggers today, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards called on the Congress to stand up to President Bush and bring the Iraq war to a conclusion. Along with this, Edwards is trying to start a grassroots effort to pressure Congress by using the slogan, “No timetable, No funding. No excuses.”

“President Bush wants everyone to keep playing the Beltway game. But this isn’t a game – lives are at stake. Young men and women are dying almost every day and Iraq is descending further into civil war. It’s time to end the game – we can’t wait. Congress must tell the president something very simple: No timetable, no funding. No excuses. I’m calling on Congress to refrain from bickering about benchmarks and stop playing the Beltway game.  Congress must stand up to the president’s policy, reject the incremental triangulation we see inside Washington, and solve the problem in Iraq,” Edwards said.

Edwards said that if President Bush vetoes a bill that contains a timetable for troop withdrawal, Congress ought to send it back to him again and again. He also pointed out that people like Gen. Peter Pace and Sen. John Warner have moved closer to his position of immediately withdrawing 40,000-50,000 troops, and getting the rest out of Iraq by next year. Edwards also wants Gen. Petraeus to testify in front of Congress about what progress our military policy has made in Iraq towards finding a political solution.

“Instead of focusing on this benchmark or that benchmark and whether there’s progress, no progress, or partial progress, what should be asked is the basic question of whether there’s been any serious moves to a political solution.  Because everyone recognizes there cannot be stability and peace in Iraq unless some comprehensive political solution is reached,” Edwards said. It would appear from Edwards’s comments he too believes that the Democratic Congress has consistently caved to President Bush on the issue of Iraq.

I doubt that his grassroots campaign to pressure Congress to stand up to President Bush will work, but by this point it doesn’t hurt to try. It is nice to see a candidate echo the disappointment of rank and file Democrats, in not so much the whole Congress, but the Senate which has acted in a completely spineless manner when it comes to the war.

Other than Dennis Kucinich, no other Democratic candidate has as consistently spoken out about this war. Speaking of Kucinich, major props should go to him for going all over the country and passionately campaigning against the Iraq war. It is looking more and more like Edwards won’t win the Democratic nomination, but he and Kucinich have each taken up the mantle of the traditional Democrat, and I think they both deserve credit for trying to remind people what the Democratic Party used to stand for.

Edwards press release

Jason Easley is the editor of the Politics Zone at www.411mania.com/politics His column The Political Universe appears on 411 every Tuesday and Friday.
 

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