Allies of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., point out that the current Senate Democratic proposal for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq -- introduced by Senate Democratic leaders and currently being debated on the Senate floor -- strongly resembles plans Kerry introduced in both October 2005 and June 2006.
Moreover, Kerry's allies note -- with regret in their voices and bile in their mouths -- that for his efforts at the time Kerry was mocked and belittled by his fellow Democratic senators, at least one of whom joined Kerry at a press conference today to push the new proposal.
The current proposal, introduced by Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., would begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq within four months of enactment, with a goal of all combat troops out of Iraq by approximately this time next year.
"We are today behaving as a security blanket [for the Iraqi government]," Kerry said, standing alongside Reid and Democratic Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Carl Levin of Michigan.
"If you want to support the troops, the way to support the troops is to get the policy right."
Asked after the press conference if Reid's plan wasn't the same as his from last June, Kerry smiled and said, "They're very similar."
So what took his colleagues so long to come to the conclusion he reached about a "phased redeployment" back in October 2005?
"These things take time," Kerry said. "Things have to percolate. That's the nature of legislation."
For Kerry's June 2006 effort, which would have withdrawn U.S. combat troops by June 2007, the lanky junior senator from Massachusetts was rewarded by a scathing report in The New York Times entitled, "On Iraq, Kerry Again Leaves Democrats Fuming." The Times reported the 2004 presidential nominee's "fellow Democrats" were fearful that "the latest evolution of Mr. Kerry's views on Iraq may now complicate their hopes of taking back a majority in Congress in 2006."
Senate Democratic leaders were described as shoving Kerry's proposal "into the evening, too late for the nightly television news, to starve it of some attention interviews suggest a frustration with Mr. Kerry, never popular among the caucus, and still unpopular among many Democrats for failing to defeat a president they considered vulnerable. Privately, some of his Democratic peers complain that he is too focused on the next presidential campaign."
Said Biden of Kerry's proposal back then: "Setting a date is not a plan.'' Added Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., ''If the argument comes down to, 'Is it one year or 18 months,' I think we're going to confuse people. I'm not sure what the value is; I think it hurts us rather than helps.''
Biden and Dodd are currently running for president; Kerry is not. All three now support setting a deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops.
"We've got to stop this president from taking us off this cliff," Biden said today.
Asked today about the lack of support -- and anonymous sniping -- he experienced back then from the same Democratic senators he stood with today, Kerry said "I'm not interested in going backwards."
He then resisted one more effort by this reporter to prod him into a more emotive response, smiled and walked off.