Driven by the right-wing blogosphere and called "the NRSC Pledge," the petition reads:
"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."
This pledge - which currently claims more than 27,000 signatures - does not target Hagel by name, but its orchestrators at Townhall.com most certainly have. One such commentator, Dean Barnett, states:
FOR SIX YEARS, SERIOUS CONSERVATIVES have responded to every betrayal from a Lincoln Chafee or a Chuck Hagel with continued support for the organizations that enable them like the NRSC. This support in the wake of each and every disappointment said in effect, “Thank you, Senator. May I have another?”....Certainly an intriguing development - I don't have the heart or the stomach to gloat at the mess in which the Republican Party now finds itself - mainly because it's a mess from which none of us can wash our hands as Americans or as citizens of the world.
The time has long since come when Republican voters should demand that their office-holders be serious about the war. The anti-surge resolution is a frivolous thing, a pathetic exercise in rear-end covering. While differences regarding the war tactics urged by the White House are fair game, nakedly playing politics with matters of life and death is not.
The sooner the Republican Party gets serious about the war, the better it will be for both the country and the party.
Obviously the Republican Senate caucus isn’t capable of taking the lead in showing such resolve. But perhaps Congressional Republicans will be able to follow the lead of their supporters, supporters who are very serious about becoming “former supporters” if the party continues on its current trajectory.
I am not so lost to partisanship that I can take pleasure in Hagel's predicament. Although against my better judgment, I must even admit to pitying President Bush for this evil situation he has done so much to create.
And, while I have vehemently opposed the Iraq War since well before it began, I can't help but relate with and respect the signers of the above pledge as they vow to put their money where their mouth is in standing for what they believe is right.
This is not a time for easy answers. There are none to be had. Our only hopes rest in introspection and investigation; honest debate and open questions. We have paid the price for our failure in both regards, as have so many others. We will continue to pay that price for years to come - it remaining largely a matter of form and substance measured by the untold, unknown blood and sacrifice to be exacted.