November 1, 2005


Senate Democrats Force Closed Session, Igniting Partisan Battle (Richard Simon, November 1, 2005, LA Times)

A messy partisan struggle erupted in the Senate today, with Republican leader Bill Frist accusing his Democratic counterpart Harry Reid of breaching Senate courtesy in a fight that threatens to disrupt the chamber's agenda until next year's congressional elections.

The breakdown in comity demonstrates how rough it is likely to be in the months ahead as the Senate takes up a Supreme Court nomination that could determine the high court's direction for decades.

Tensions were heightened after Reid forced the Senate to go into closed session to take up what the Democratic leader complained was the GOP-controlled Senate's failure to complete an investigation into intelligence used by the Bush administration to justify the war in Iraq.

Frist complained that Reid had forced the Senate into a closed session without consulting with him, and declared, "From now on, for the next year and a half, I can't trust Sen. Reid."

Anyone know Senate rules? Why can't the GOP just deny them a quorum? More than that, who cares what they do if no one's watching?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 1, 2005 5:32 PM

VERY advanced BDS. I thought Bush was supposed to be dead, sunk, crippled, lame, etc.

Posted by: Luciferous at November 1, 2005 5:47 PM

1. On a motion made and seconded to close the doors of the Senate, on the discussion of any business which may, in the opinion of a Senator, require secrecy, the Presiding Officer shall direct the galleries to be cleared; and during the discussion of such motion the doors shall remain closed.

2. When the Senate meets in closed session, any applicable provisions of rules XXIX and XXXI, including the confidentiality of information shall apply to any information and to the conduct of any debate transacted.


Hat tip to KJ in The Corner

Posted by: Rick T. at November 1, 2005 5:48 PM

Well, one thing it does is put the majority on notice that if they have the balls to fight under Rule 21, they certainly have the balls to fight under Rule 22. Sorry.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at November 1, 2005 7:17 PM

Rick - Perhaps. But how does this help all the Dem senators up for reelection in '06 (especially from Red States)? More stunts like this and the numbers of moderate Dems voting GOP and broken glass GOP voters will increase significantly.

Posted by: AWW at November 1, 2005 7:22 PM

Rick - Perhaps. But how does this help all the Dem senators up for reelection in '06 (especially from Red States)? More stunts like this and the numbers of moderate Dems voting GOP and broken glass GOP voters will increase significantly.

Posted by: AWW at November 1, 2005 7:24 PM

It's good for Wednesday's Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraising letter, since it bolsters those with checkbooks and credit cards who suffered a letdown over the weekend when the Democrats again became Wile E. Coyote to Karl Rove's Roadrunner. But I'd be shocked if they actually want to make Joseph Wilson the rock they want to stake their reputations on in a long-term battle with Senate Republicans, given the Senate report on the Niger mission already has said Wilson lied about his wife having nothing to do with his assignment.

Posted by: John at November 1, 2005 7:34 PM

If every Senate session is closed, it means less TV time for other Senators, which hurts re-election chances, which may slightly hurt the majority party but is sure to annoy the other Senators. I doubt this will continue long.

Posted by: pj at November 1, 2005 7:55 PM

Great. Now Fox/ABNBMSNBCBS/CNN et al can post themselves outside in breathless anticipation of some news, ANY news, from the inside. The exclusive nad shocking we'll all want to know.

Posted by: John Resnick at November 1, 2005 8:02 PM

Kate O'Beirne tagged them already - the Joe Wilson Democrats. And when old Joe's speech at a lefty institute in D.C. on June 14, 2003 is widely disseminated, they'll hide again.

But they really should be called the Sandy Berger Democrats. After all, one presumes that Berger believed in WMD, just like his boss. It was only later that he tried to kick sand in the 9/11 Commission's eye, no?

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 1, 2005 8:13 PM

I dunno. A Senate that communicated to the outside world throught white and black smoke would be an improvement.

And think of all the possibilities for leaks and rumors and gossip.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 1, 2005 8:40 PM

Give me a break. How is it good for Democrats up for reelection? It's good because a majority of Americans oppose the war, and that majority is growing every week. This is a chance for Democrats to gracefully establish what is the truth anyway, though you all manage to dodge: that Bush lied us into war. All they need is to establish the proper conditions upon which they can come out foresquare against the Iraq boondoggle. Once they're able to establish in a reasonable easily digestible way the narrative by which they were swindled by talk of mushroom clouds into voting for the war authorization, by people most Americans understand to be liars, it's all over for the Republican Party. Because, speaking of things growing every week, at current rates there could be 5000 dead American soldiers by election day.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at November 1, 2005 8:41 PM

Rick - "majority oppose the war and growing every day" - proof?

Bush lied into the war - so the Dems that voted for the resolution are saying they were too stupid to understand what they voted on? And the 10 years of Dem qoutes, especially when Clinton was president, calling for Saddam's ouster and the threat of WMDs from Saddam were all made up?

"5000 dead by election day" - so 2000 dead over more than 2 years is going to more than double over the next 12 months? especially when it is pretty clear that once the Iraq elections are held in December US troops will begin to be withdrawn?

Posted by: AWW at November 1, 2005 8:53 PM

"growing every week"...."growing every week"...."growing every week"....

The only thing growing is the mold in the heads of those with BDS. And when Syria implodes, and Iran no longer has physical access to Jabba the Jihad in Gaza and the West Bank, what will friend Perlstein say then? BUSH LIED!!! And when Putin leaves the stage (as he has indicated), BUSH LIED!!! And when India continues to move closer to the US, BUSH LIED!!! And so on. It will never change.

A tax reform plan will be voted on next spring, and the GOP will pick up seats in the Senate 12 months from now, and hold even in the House. BUSH LIED!!!

Posted by: ratbert at November 1, 2005 9:04 PM

The Senate does nothing for 2 hours. Bug or Feature?

P.S. OJ: he is your friend, you make the garlic bread.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 1, 2005 9:04 PM


Democrats arguing that Saddam should still be in power is a loser.

Posted by: oj at November 1, 2005 9:08 PM


We'll gladly take their balls from them.

Posted by: oj at November 1, 2005 9:13 PM

Doesn't matter what I think. It matters what pluralities of Americans think.

Some polls, just quickly:

CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. Oct. 28-30, 2005. N=800 adults nationwide. MoE ± 4.


"In view of the developments since we first sent our troops to Iraq, do you think the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq, or not?"

Made a
Mistake Did Not
Make a
Mistake Unsure
% % %

54 45 1

49 49 2

Based on what you know now, which of the following statements about Lewis "Scooter" Libby do you think is true? One: Libby did not lie to the grand jury. Two: Libby misled the grand jury, but did so accidentally, not knowingly. Three: Libby lied to the grand jury knowingly, on his own initiative. Four: Libby lied to the grand jury because he was told to lie by a superior.
10% Did Not Lie
11% Misled Accidentally
29% Lied On Own Initiative
37% Lied Because He Was Told To
13% Not Sure

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at November 1, 2005 9:25 PM

Rick, it was the last administration that governed according to the daily polling numbers.

Posted by: John at November 1, 2005 9:44 PM

Rick Perlstein:

Most of this blog's readers surely agree with your admission that your opinions don't matter, and if the troops in Iraq are largely withdrawn by November '06 (as I expect) then that first poll is supremely unimportant.

Many Americans wrongly consider Bush a liar, just as a majority of Americans rightly considered Clinton mendacious. But polling data is mostly driven by other considerations.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at November 1, 2005 9:59 PM

Rick - The shift in those polls is within the margin of error. If a slight plurality thinks the last war was a mistake, what of it? A plurality will think the next war is a good idea, when we need their vote.

Posted by: pj at November 1, 2005 10:02 PM

It was all you guys could do to keep from throwing a party when the death toll reached 2000.
Maybe you create a National Day of Celebration if it reaches 5000; after all, we'll need something after you outlaw Christmas. Vulture.

Posted by: Noel at November 1, 2005 10:08 PM

CBS News Poll. Oct. 3-5, 2005. N=808 adults nationwide. MoE ± 4 (for all adults). RV = registered voters

"Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation with Iraq?"

Approve Disapprove Unsure
% % %
Republicans 69 25 6
Democrats 11 87 2

Posted by: andy at November 1, 2005 10:31 PM

perlstein, how is it going to feel when giuliani/rice win the election in 2008, and the leftocrats lose 5 more seats in the senate ?

once the teachers' unions are put out of business by vouchers, and most government functions are privatized, your party is going to be like a mud puddle in the sahara -- not long for this world.

Posted by: ward churchill at November 1, 2005 10:32 PM

Imagine, just for a moment, the media rage if Bill Frist called the Senate into closed session.

"Why, he really is a facist!"

"The Upper Chamber is now closed to the public"

"The Senate Majority Leader closed Senate business today, just as he faces an SEC investigation into his questionable stock sales"

"The Republican-controlled Senate closed its session to the public today, led by Sen. Frist of Tennessee, who is under investigation for illegal stock trading"

But Harry Reid is a paragon of government, no?

And who knows what Dick Durbin said about the American military behind closed doors?

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 1, 2005 10:37 PM

To Mr. "No T" Perlsein or any other lefty: Can you please show me one solitary citation of a political figure in any country expressing even the slightest doubt that Iraq had WMDs? Even off the record?

Posted by: b at November 1, 2005 10:42 PM

My own poll for Rick Perlstein

Would you support or oppose a war against Iraq if it would prevent the destruction of a major U.S. city in the next decade?

Would you support or oppose a war against Iraq if it would prevent the destruction of a major U.S. city in the next decade, if there were thousands of American military causalities?

Posted by: andy at November 1, 2005 10:49 PM

Rick: In your first comment, were you suggesting that the Dems will filibuster Alito?

Posted by: David Cohen at November 1, 2005 11:03 PM

Let's see, they can't spend money or be in front of cameras.

Bring in the cots, MREs and portojohns and lock them up until January 3rd.

We'll see if anyone misses them outside of their families.

Posted by: Sandy P at November 2, 2005 12:15 AM

Poll results are solely the function of 1) the wording of poll questions, 2)the order and manner in which they are asked, 3) how the sample is constructed, and 4) how the poll is conducted. Polling does not provide any information about the state of the world outside of the pollsters mind.

For this reason, wise men do not consult polls as a guide to their actions, even if their actions are merely intended to please the public. Of course, since the opinions of the great mass of men are uninformed and unreflective, wise leaders do not consult them to determine matters of high policy.

This is doubly true in the realm of diplomatic relations where by long tradition the truth may not be spoken. The whole WMD fiasco is an illustration of this. Whether or not Saddam had WMD, and by all accounts, everyone thought he did, -- indeed, if he knew he didn't his behavior in early 2003 is inexplicable -- we were forced to remove him and send Iraq down the path to republican government.

WMD was perhaps 6th on the list of real issues, but it was one that had traction in the diplomatic channels that Tony Blair wanted us to use, so we used it.

There were no WMD in Iraq. So what reasons 1 through 5 and 7 through 10 were intact. We are moving the war towards a successful conclusion in a relatively tidy time frame. The issue will be off the domestic radar by the second half of next year.

OJ: you working on that garlic bread?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 2, 2005 12:31 AM

Hey now. If the Democrats are such quislings why are a half-dozen Iraq veterans running for Congress as Democrats, and none running for Congress as Republicans?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at November 2, 2005 12:49 AM

The Democrats need the war vets more right now, in order to prove to the voting public they won't get Americans blown up at home if they're elected by being lax on the terroism threat because they want the United Nations and the European Union to like us. Fears over national security are far less of a problem for candidates on the Republican side, at least until the terrorists get off another successful attack on U.S. soil.

Posted by: John at November 2, 2005 1:05 AM

"half-dozen Iraq veterans ... running as Democrats"

Putting in some time in the military worked for anti-war types like Kerry or Algore or McDermott (to use a lesser local example). It's a tradition that goes back to McClelland (And I'm sure people here can probably come up with earlier examples). And just because someone "runs" is no indication that they have any chance of "winning". Just ask McDermott's opponents, for example, or anyone who runs as a Green or Libertarian.

One of the drawbacks of the heavily gerrymanderd districts nationwide is that because opponents don't have much of a chance, what does run are usually single issue freaks who'd never stand a chance in a competative race.

Also, I would suspect that the GOP will have even more veterans running in decades to come, since active duty personel who've just re-enlisted can't run for office.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 2, 2005 1:32 AM

because the republican service people are still getting the job done; they aren't cut-and-runners like your bunch of "heroes". oh, and they aren't working for al jazeera or cindy sheean either.

Posted by: Gen. Patton at November 2, 2005 1:42 AM


They're running against the war, no?

Posted by: oj at November 2, 2005 7:11 AM

Patton, you great bally blowhard you're just upset because your country is turning into a bunch of big anti-freedom crybabies like Ricky P. Stiff upper lip, Old Bean, it's a hell of a ride!

Posted by: Monty at November 2, 2005 7:20 AM

As for "Bush lied" -

[All emph. add.] The nerve agent VX is one of the most toxic ever developed.

Iraq has declared that it only produced VX on a pilot scale, just a few tonnes and that the quality was poor and the product unstable. Consequently, it was said, that the agent was never weaponised. Iraq said that the small quantity of agent remaining after the Gulf War was unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991.

UNMOVIC, however, has information that conflicts with this account. There are indications that Iraq had worked on the problem of purity and stabilization and that more had been achieved than has been declared. Indeed, even one of the documents provided by Iraq indicates that the purity of the agent, at least in laboratory production, was higher than declared. There are also indications that the agent was weaponised. [...]

I would now like to turn to the so-called “Air Force document” that I have discussed with the Council before. […] The document indicates that 13,000 chemical bombs were dropped by the Iraqi Air Force between 1983 and 1988, while Iraq has declared that 19,500 bombs were consumed during this period. Thus, there is a discrepancy of 6,500 bombs. The amount of chemical agent in these bombs would be in the order of about 1,000 tonnes. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must assume that these quantities are now unaccounted for.

The discovery of a number of 122 mm chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at a storage depot 170 km southwest of Baghdad was much publicized. This was a relatively new bunker and therefore the rockets must have been moved there in the past few years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions. […] The discovery […] points to the issue of several thousands of chemical rockets that are unaccounted for. […]

I might further mention that inspectors have found at another site a laboratory quantity of thiodiglycol, a mustard gas precursor. […]

I have mentioned the issue of anthrax to the Council on previous occasions and I come back to it as it is an important one.

Iraq has declared that it produced about 8,500 litres of this biological warfare agent, which it states it unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. Iraq has provided […] no convincing evidence for its destruction. There are strong indications that Iraq produced more anthrax than it declared, and that at least some of this was retained after the declared destruction date. […]

I turn now to the missile sector. […] There has been a range of developments in the missile field during the past four years… Two projects in particular stand out. They are the development of a liquid-fuelled missile named the Al Samoud 2, and a solid propellant missile, called the Al Fatah. Both missiles have been tested to a range in excess of the permitted range of 150 km… The Al Samoud’s diameter was increased from an earlier version to the present 760 mm. This modification was made despite a 1994 letter from the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM directing Iraq to limit its missile diameters to less than 600 mm. […]

When we have urged our Iraqi counterparts to present more evidence, we have all too often met the response that there are no more documents. All existing relevant documents have been presented, we are told. All documents relating to the biological weapons programme were destroyed together with the weapons.

However, Iraq has all the archives of the Government and its various departments, institutions and mechanisms. It should have budgetary documents, requests for funds and reports on how they have been used. It should also have letters of credit and bills of lading, reports on production and losses of material. […]

The recent inspection find in the private home of a scientist of a box of some 3,000 pages of documents, […] support a concern that has long existed that documents might be distributed to the homes of private individuals. […] [W]e cannot help but think that the case might not be isolated and that such placements of documents is deliberate to make discovery difficult and to seek to shield documents by placing them in private homes. […]

In the past, much valuable information came from interviews. There were also cases in which the interviewee was clearly intimidated by the presence of and interruption by Iraqi officials. […]

To date, 11 individuals were asked for interviews in Baghdad by us. The replies have invariably been that the individual will only speak at Iraq’s monitoring directorate or, at any rate, in the presence of an Iraqi official. This could be due to a wish on the part of the invited to have evidence that they have not said anything that the authorities did not wish them to say.

Sixty days after beginning the weapons inspections that the UN Security Council had made clear were Iraq’s “last chance”, Dr. Blix had found that Iraq:

* Did not accept that they must cooperate with the weapons inspectors

* Would not guarantee that they wouldn’t attempt to shoot down a surveillance plane conducting searches for prohibited items

* Organized gov’t sponsored mass protests against the inspections, and harrassed the inspectors

* Refused to provide many documents related to prohibited weapons programmes, and those that were provided were largely copies of previously-submitted docs

* Lied about how much VX nerve agent was produced, and when, and about the quality and weaponization of it, and 1,000 tonnes of VX nerve gas are missing !!

* Continued to work on producing mustard gas

* Lied about how much anthrax they had produced, and could not account for its whereabouts

* Continued to produce warheads designed to deliver poisonous gasses and biological agents

* Developed larger, more powerful, longer-ranged rockets, in contravention of a letter from the UN specifically forbidding such development

* Was actively intimidating persons who might provide useful information to the UN weapons inspectors

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 2, 2005 7:42 AM

Rick, Rick , Rick - we don't care if 25 vets run as Democrats. They are opposed to the war. Most Republicans aren't.

The question is, how many of these vets will win? The guy in Ohio ran as a 'centrist', but was caught saying some very harsh things. He had a weak opponent and still lost. In a normal election cycle, do you think he would have crossed even 45% of the vote in that district? And almost all his money came from MoveOn and other fringe groups.

Are you admitting this is now the core of the Democratic party? Is that a development you are comfortable with? Are you prepared to defend MoveOn, the lefty judicial-political groups, Peter Lewis, George Soros, Steve Bing, the Hollywood crowd, and The Nation on each and every point where they speak?

When you wake up on Weds. morning, Nov. 8, 2006, will you know whom to blame for 57-58 GOP Senate seats?

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 2, 2005 7:55 AM

Why confuse confuse Rick et al with facts?

Leave them their delusions. That's all that's left of their grand dream of Kumbaya.

Posted by: tefta at November 2, 2005 8:09 AM

I would rather have the germans in front of me than Monty behind me.

Posted by: Gen. Patton at November 2, 2005 10:14 AM

Mr Perlsein: Only the left thinks that all members of the military are right wing lunatics...

Posted by: b at November 2, 2005 11:38 AM

benedict arnold was a veteran (and a democrat)

Posted by: Gen. Patton at November 2, 2005 4:34 PM