Hugh Hewitt’s pro-”surge” pledge:

If the United States Senate passes a resolution, non-binding or otherwise, that criticizes the commitment of additional troops to Iraq that General Petraeus has asked for and that the president has pledged, and if the Senate does so after the testimony  of General Petraeus on January 23 that such a resolution will be an encouragement to the enemy, I will not contribute to any Republican senator who voted for the resolution.  Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such a resolution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution.

The best part comes in the brief remarks following the pledge, where Hewitt writes:

GOP activists and donors built the GOP senate delegation, as well as the majority that was punted away [bold mine-DL].  They can disassemble it as well, and GOP support for a neoappeasement [bold mine-DL] resolution is exactly the way to start that process.

Neoappeasement?  Is that what they call appeasement in The Matrix?  But, hey, if you have neocons, and Santorum is Neochurchill, you have to have neoappeasement.  Does that make Brownback Neochamberlain? 

I thought I was the purist who expected unlikely things from people in government.  Faced with an incredibly difficult election for a considerable number (21, I believe, which is nine more than the Democrats have to hold) of contested Senate seats, many of them in “blue” or “purple” states, Hewitt has made it his goal to undermine any Senator running for re-election in ‘08 if he does the one thing likely to save his seat by voting against the ill-conceived “surge.” 

The majority was “punted away”?  Granted, the majority leadership did work overtime at accomplishing nothing of value and otherwise alienating parts of the country with the few things they did manage to bestir themselves to attempt (take that, Internet gamblers!), but the overwhelming reason why the majority was lost was because of continued mismanagement of a war that seemed to have lost any intelligible rationale.  The reflexive, full-throated support of people like Hewitt for the war ensured that the voters would associate (with good reason) the deteriorating conditions there with general Republican incompetence.  The majority was not “punted away”–war supporters in the coalition fumbled at their own five yard line through their increasingly inflexible, irrational defenses of a war that most Americans want to see brought to a close by ‘08.  The “surge” puts an exclamation point on all of this mismanagement.  Mr. Bush’s out-of-hand rejection of the ISG Report, whatever the flaws it possesses, was a giant, blinking neon sign that announced to the country, “Nevermind what you voted for, I’ll do whatever I damn well please.” 

He has made sure that most of the country thinks of this as a Republican war, pure and simple, and for the GOP this is nightmarish when the war is increasingly unpopular.  Some of the Senators Hewitt seeks to chastise are probably barely going to be able to hang on as it is (Norm Coleman, this means you), and now he is actively encouraging people to contribute to the defeat of his party because of some Senators’ opposition to one particularly bad policy.  Of course, he’s free to hold the GOP to whatever standard he wants, but he shouldn’t be surprised if most other Republicans look at him as if he’s crazy.  For the most part, conservatives who advocated for GOP defeat last year wanted the GOP to be chastened and to pay a price for its misrule and abandonment of principle.  Hewitt doesn’t just want the GOP chastened–he wants them to get slaughtered yet again and see their presence in the Senate reduced to a rump.  For what?  For the sake of Mr. Bush’s poorly conceived “surge”?  If the Senate GOP find themselves with only 39 or 40 seats (or fewer) come January 2009, the thanks will be due in part to screeching warmongers like Hewitt and their agitation to undermine incumbents in tough re-election fights.      

Update: Norm Coleman is apparently already buckling under pressure from the Hewitts out there.  In Senate FRC, he voted against the non-binding anti-”surge” resolution. That didn’t take long–Hewitt put up his pledge yesterday. Maybe Coleman was under pressure from the leadership to back the White House (maybe they threatened to withhold NRSC funding?), and Hewitt had nothing to do with it, but it’s interesting to note the timing of the threat and Coleman’s volte-face.

Second Update: VOA gives more information about why the non-binding resolution passed on a virtually party-line vote (Hagel joined with the majority):

Among the lawmakers who voted against the measure was the top Republican on the committee, Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who said while he, too, opposes a U.S. troop increase in Iraq, he also opposes the resolution.

“It is unclear to me how passing a nonbinding resolution that the president has already said he will ignore will contribute to any improvement or modifications of our Iraq policy,” he said. 

Lugar says he fears passage of the resolution will make it more difficult for Congress to work with the president to influence his Iraq policy.

In other words, in order to have influence on Iraq policy it is necessary to not try to influence Iraq policy with any measure at all, no matter how symbolic.  That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I suppose it’s an explanation of sorts.  What it does show, however, is that there is a lot less support for the actual “surge” on the committee than the 12-9 FRC vote indicates.  It also means that Coleman has put himself in the ridiculous position of having to explain to his constituents that he opposed the “surge” before he failed to disapprove of it.  Minnesota DFL folks are going to beat him silly with this vote come next year.   

Third Update: Voinovich, a man not running for re-election in ‘08 but who is from what is becoming a very “blue” state, also expressed strong opposition to the “surge” while voting against the resolution.