The Washington Post sees it like this:

"Senate Republicans for a second time blocked a symbolic attempt by Democrats to reject President Bush's troop increase yesterday, but GOP defections were higher than before, suggesting Republican cracks as the Iraq war dominates Congress's agenda" (read the full story here).

FYI: The Republican defectors:

John Warner (Va.)
Chuck Hagel (Neb.)
Gordon Smith (Ore.)
Norm Coleman (Minn.)
Arlen Specter (Pa.)
Olympia J. Snowe (Maine)
and Susan M. Collins (Maine).

Here are a few things that the Post and much of the mainstream media missed:

1. Most news agencies erroneously reported Democratic unanimity--but Joe Lieberman voted against the Resolution.

2. The most under-reported story of the week: the real division in Washington is developing among Democrats, and it involves how far Congress should go in undercutting the President's control of this war. A large number of Democrats are looking to defund the mission, or at least apply enough budget pressure on the President and the army to cripple our capacity to continue. The so-called Murtha Plan envisions a "slow bleed" strategy to end our military operation in Iraq. But not all Democrats are ready to go that far.

3. The continuing battle over semantics:

To some extent, the Republicans beat back the Democrats and their allies in the fight for the rhetorical high ground. The first headlines mostly read that the Resolution "did not garner enough votes to move forward" (although the Post headline for the above story once again characterizes the result in obstructionist terms: "Iraq Vote In Senate Blocked By GOP," albeit in attributed passive construction).

But the editorials in the Post and NYT castigating the Murtha Plan (here) and the heavy-handed tactics of the House Democrats to deny minority input (here) have dulled the Democratic momentum.

The Democrats continue to cry foul over phrases like "cut and run" and "retreat" (preferring "orderly redeployment"), all the while insisting on the emotionally and historically charged "escalation" to describe the President's 20,000-soldier troop build-up.

Democrats charge GOP with voting to stifle debate, although cloture is a motion to suspend debate, all the while admitting that there will be endless discussion of this issue in the months to come in the House and Senate.

4. Some Senatorial splendiferous phrases of note:

Charles Schumer calls this action only the "first step." He plans to "ratchet-up the pressure" following a "Vietnam" roadmap.

Joe Biden pleads that this dilemma can only be solved by "debating [it] on the [Senate] floor" rather than "Sunday talk shows." On the other hand, I wonder if Senators listen to one another on the floor. No one is usually on the floor during debate. No one ever says anything new. No one ever seems to change their mind as a result of floor debate. No one ever seems to know what the Senator two-speakers back actually said.

Robert Byrd is a genuinely pathetic figure. But he did get off a well-turned phrase: "This is the world's greatest deliberative body and it is the only place in the world where debate on Iraq is not taking place." Wrong--but powerful nonetheless.

Ted Kennedy also offered a great line: "The Senate Republicans are more concerned with protecting the President from a rebuke than protecting the tens of thousands of American soldiers who are now scheduled to be dropped into the cauldron of civil war." But mostly I watched him and wondered: why is this man yelling? Why is he so red in the face?

Mitch McConnell, who began this Republican rally with his courage and resourcefulness under fire (see this previous post), spoke last and reiterated the basic fallacies in the rush to reprimand the President:

The plan is underway. This reproof does more to undermine the success of the mission than it does to brace this last best hope for favorable outcome.

The censure contradicts the Senate's unanimous approval of General David Petraeus.

The Resolution of disapproval is the product of more politics than statesmanship: "There is no place for this kind of chicanery at a time of war."

Some Final Thoughts:

1. The Democrats are betting on failure. The have all their money on the "Don't Pass" line. That is, they are betting their political fortunes on the President and the military "crapping out" in Iraq. To many of us, regardless of how smart it may prove to be, it is a despicable political tactic.

2. The Democrats taking control of Congress may prove to be, ironically, an essential element in winning the war in Iraq. As I have said before: "Accountability in life is everything. Self regulation is the most dangerous of all human delusions." This Democratic Congress means business. They are intent on defunding this war, packing up, and coming home. "Last one out of Baghdad turn off the lights!" Let the President, the military and the Iraqis be forewarned: if they don't make progress now, the chance is going to be lost forever. In other words, all parties are now working under the stress of necessity. It is now or never. This President may need exactly that brand of urgency to get on top of his game.

Good luck to the President, the General, and all the boys and girls in combat 7,500 miles across the sea. May God Bless America.