Senate Democratic leaders abruptly switched course in the Iraq war debate today, shelving a complicated non-binding resolution that has run into procedural hurdles, in favor of a House version that simply states Congress's objections to President Bush's troop escalation plan.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this afternoon announced that the Senate would take a rare Saturday vote on whether to consider the House resolution, which is expected to pass that chamber Friday, with some Republican support. […]
The House resolution expresses support for U.S. troops fighting in Iraq, but objects to Bush's plan to increase combat forces by 21,500.
"We are determined to give our troops and the American people the debate they deserve," Reid said.
In particular, Democrats are calling the bluff of a group of Republican senators who oppose the escalation, but who joined with their GOP leadership to block the earlier Democratic-led resolution from coming to a vote, in an effort to force Democrats to allow a pro-administration measure to be offered.
The next two days should be very rewarding ones for Gordon Smith watchers: Reid's maneuver appears to have cleared out most of the procedural cover for Smith to hide in. No more erratic flip-flopping; no more melodramatic diversions.
If Smith stays true to his increasingly odd post-election pattern, sometime between now and Saturday we can expect some kind of dramatic public act on his part that won't really change the facts on the ground one bit, but will give us all something to puzzle over--after which he'll vote against the resolution, his continued lock-step support for Bush's war exposed for all to see.
I'd like to be wrong, but I doubt if I am.