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Warner Mystifies Us All with Retreat on Iraq

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Anyone following the Senate debate on the Iraq war would think the world's greatest deliberative body lived in another galaxy.

Yes, everyone acknowledged they were dealing with the most important foreign policy issue of our time. Many, including, at least some Republicans, admitted they were finally discussing the most important foreign policy mistake of our time.

A few Republicans saw the debate primarily as an embarrassment to President George W. Bush and wanted it to go away as quickly as possible. The head of this group was new Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a dour water-carrier for the White House (his wife is in Bush's Cabinet). On Monday, McConnell used arcane Senate rules to end debate. This being the Senate, the ploy worked.

McConnell's tactics had the bizarre effect of trapping Senator John Warner -- the co-author of a resolution opposing Bush's decision to send more troops to Iraq -- into casting a vote against himself. It was a sorry and confusing tableau, a ``who's-on-first'' routine worthy of Abbott and Costello. And it left the public with little taste for parliamentary tricks.

Warner was made to look like a man without the courage of his convictions. The irony is that it was all for something that will have no consequences, beyond sending an embarrassing message to a president who hasn't checked his in-box in six years.

Read the whole column here.