Ohio senator’s change of heart good for politics

By Freedom Newspapers

The Associated Press reports U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, has been under fire from both sides of the political aisle because of the way he has voted on contentious issues.

Liberal activist groups are upset with the second-term senator because he voted against a Democratic bill to micromanage the war in Iraq right after saying the war strategy needs changed. Republicans are disappointed he initially supported President Bush’s proposed immigration reform.

As the saying goes, if everyone is angry with you, you must be doing something right. Both sides are capable of being wrong about issues, and Voinovich is doing what all of us expect: He’s standing by what he believes.

Voinovich speaking out against the war in Iraq was a welcome development. It would have been much better had he done so beginning almost five years ago, but another important Republican breaking ranks with President Bush is no small matter even now. But Democrats have failed to follow through on what voters in November put them in control of both houses of Congress to do: bring an end to the Iraq war.

The Democrats have the ability to end the war, which would require cutting off funds for the war. They failed earlier this year to do that, instead trying to add some strings to the war-funding bill, but in the end they couldn’t do even that.

Simply, the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, a duty with Iraq that Congress ceded to the president. The Constitution also gives Congress the sole power to fund this country’s war efforts. However, the president, according to that very same Constitution, is this country’s military commander in chief. It isn’t the place of Congress to dictate troop levels, how a war is fought or any other leadership aspect of war. Voinovich was right to oppose congressional efforts to conduct the war.

On immigration, we believe the reform bill, imperfect as it was, would have been better than the status quo. The Associated Press in fact points out that Voinovich told conservative radio show host Sean Hannity the same thing about the bill being better than the status quo. But Voinovich voted to close debate rather than letting deliberations continue. His spokesman said the senator wanted a bill that would strengthen border security and allow some immigrants here illegally to remain. That combination wasn’t part of anything offered.

So he’s angered both sides of late. Good for the senator. Any elected officeholder who can be counted on to unquestioningly follow a party line is doing a disservice to those he represents.