Thursday, March 15, 2007

Illinois Senate War Powers debate: General Hendon [D] beats General Watson [R] by default

The Illinois State Senate passed a resolution today stating “it is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating the United States military force presence in Iraq…” See here for the full text of SR 65.

Perhaps it was no coincidence that one of the resolution's sponsors, State Senator Kwame Raoul [D-Chicago], took the place of then State Senator Barack Obama, after Obama was elected to the U. S. Senate. Obama, of course, took a vigorous and vocal position opposed to the Iraq War, in the fall of 2002.

The Illinois state senate resolution was passed on a voice vote without a single comment or question. The primary sponsor of the resolution, Senator Rickey “Hollywood” Hendon [D-Chicago], who once almost got into fisticuffs with then State Senator Barack Obama on the Illinois Senate floor said he was shocked no Republicans argued against the resolution. [See here for a report of this item, as well as those below] Now, that’s something on which many Republicans might agree with the Democratic State Senator from the west side of Chicago.

In what some Republican voters would no doubt sarcastically characterize as “profiles in courage,” there were the following reports on the role of and comments from Republican state senators on this matter today:

“The main message [of the resolution] –that America should not get more deeply involved [in Iraq]—is hardly controversial.” State Senator Dan Rutherford [R-Chenoa]. Apparently, Rutherford [who took a “thumpin” from Democrat Jesse White in the 2006 Secretary of State race] does not support the President’s surge of troops in Iraq. Or, if he does, he has a funny way of saying so.

Senator Rutherford might find it of interest to learn that on the same day that the Illinois senate passed what Republican Rutherford called a "Hardly controversial," resolution knocking down the President's Iraq surge policy, the Republicans in the U. S. Senate beat back an attempt by the Majority Leaders in the Democrat controlled U. S. Senate to set a March 31, 2008 date for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. [See here].

Sen. Larry Bomke [R-Springfield] was reported to have said he was unfamiliar with the resolution and was off the senate floor when it was discussed.

The AP reported that Senate Republican leader Frank Watson [R-Greenville] wouldn’t comment after the vote. [See here]

Senate Republican Leader Watson had been criticized earlier this year when it transpired that he had gone to Italy for ten days-- a month before the November, 2006 election—when the Republicans lost five state senate seats, making the Senate Democratic majority veto proof. The trip to Italy was to attend a meeting of the National Association of State Legislators. No doubt the American legislators were there to study the Italian approach to State Government. Senator Watson contended that he was able to conduct business from Italy as well as if he had been in downstate Illinois. His critics, after today, might tend to agree with him.

At the time of this posting, today’s State Senate War Powers resolution is not discussed on the State GOP website.

As many pundits commented last November and in November of 2004 and in November of 2002, just when you think the State GOP has hit rock bottom, it seems to find a new bottom. It is doubtful any Republicans in Illinois are looking forward to November, 2008, with their party in danger of being surpassed by the Green Party, which would be yet another new bottom. Indeed, this is one of the few things the State GOP has succeeded on during the last four years: Finding new bottoms.