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Who Won the Senate Debate?

Robert Novak's column today suggests Republicans suffered a "public relations fiasco" over the Senate debate on the Iraq resolutions. I don't think he is correct.

The broader public is detached from the inside baseball nature of the Senate debate, and they also more or less understand that at the end of the day we are talking about utterly toothless, non-binding resolutions on Iraq. Political partisans, on the other hand, in each of the parties' respective bases, however, are keenly aware of the Senate dynamics and the political and military message of a Congressional vote against the U.S. offensive now under away in Iraq.

Republican partisans who have been understandably depressed for the last six months (particularly since the election) finally had something to cheer in the GOP unity in not allowing the Senate Democrats to ram through an anti-surge resolution. The anti-war left partisans are frustrated by what they perceive as Harry Reid's capitulation toward the Warner position, and then after compromising, still not being able to deliver a rebuke to President Bush on the war.

Republican Senators who are scared about Iraq and the 2008 elections will have plenty of time and opportunities over the next year to jump off the President's Iraq policy if they feel that is in the their personal political interests. It is hard to imagine that voters are going to hold GOP Senators accountable in November 2008 for not allowing a vote on a Democratic, non-binding Iraq resolution in February 2007.

After last year's election debacle, the Senate Republicans' solidarity and the Democrats' obvious frustration in not being able to deliver the political embarrassment to the President easily outweighs a couple of days of news stories about how Republicans "blocked" debate on non-binding Iraq resolutions.