Mike Gravel scolds Democrats for ‘Showboating’

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From the Huffington Post

Senator Mike Gravel

Open Letter to Harry Reid and Senate Dems: Stop Showboating

I am glad to see that you have finally used the powers of the Senate to try to stop the war, but frankly I agree with the Republicans: this week's Senate sleepover was more theater than substance.

First off, the Reid--Levin bill will not stop the war - it calls for a limited pull out that would leave the rest of our troops even more vulnerable. If we are going to fight to end the war, let's fight for a bill like I proposed which would immediately begin a complete troop withdrawal and make it a felony for George Bush to continue the war. Clinton, Biden, Obama and Dodd say they want to end the war, but so far none have submitted a bill that would really do it.

Second, your decision to accept the result of a single cloture vote lets the Republicans off the hook. One overnight debate didn't give the American public enough time to digest what was going on. They didn't even have time to contact their Senators and tell them to break with George Bush or face their wrath in 2008.

If you really want to shape war policy, you must call up a cloture vote every single day. Of course you wouldn't have the votes at first, but that's why you need to force the Senate to remain in session seven days a week to vote every day on cloture throughout the summer. The same tactic would apply for both the House and Senate to override a veto.

In the meantime the press will report on the daily votes alongside the mounting death toll. The American people will then have time to see which Senators and Congressmen still refuse to take responsibility for ending the carnage. If you keep up the pressure every single day, I guarantee your opponents will wither-on-the-vine and you will get an up-down vote. You've already flipped 4 of the 23 Republicans up for reelection next year. The rest will flip when their constituents weigh-in and threaten their political survival.

By not calling for repeated cloture votes throughout the summer, you let the heat off the Senate Republicans and you undermined your own cause by making the all-nighter look like a publicity stunt- exactly what your critics claim.

Harry, it's time to get serious about forcing a constitutional confrontation with Bush even if it means canceling the Congress' summer recess. Can you do anything less after a number of Senators have publicly ridiculed the Iraqi parliament for not canceling their summer recess. But why should vacations matter when American and Iraqi blood is being needlessly spilled? We Democrats need real leadership right now - not political showboating. Your colleagues in the Congress are not going to like the tough leadership I am suggesting. But believe me if you're successful, and you will be successful, your leadership will make Senate history.

Clearly you are not getting proper council and support from your fellow Senators and my presidential candidate colleagues. They all talk a good game about ending the war but they haven't shown any legislative leadership on the matter. As a former Senator with experience stopping an earlier futile war, I will be happy to meet with you and my candidate colleagues to explain how the Senate can begin the process of ending this war once and for all.

Feel free to call me.

Senator Mike Gravel