On Iraq and Dems: Deja Vu All Over Again

It stuns me that some Dems and Dem analyzsts seem never to learn the most basic lessons of politics. Four years after proving clearly that political cravenness was the surest way to humiliating defeat, some are, incredibly, urging "caution" again on Iraq. Matt Yglesias writes:

I tend to agree with Ed Kilgore that it would be a mistake to jab the knives in the back of [the Warner] resolution. At the moment, absolutely anything that congress says or does about Iraq is pure kabuki. In kabuki terms, this resolution counts as a repudiation of Bush by Democrats and many Republicans. As policy, from what I can tell this resolution is not-so-wonderful. As kabuki, though, it's good kabuki.

No Matt, it is horrible kabuki. We do not need phony Republican repudiation of Bush, Matt. We do not need a phony nonbinding resolution that embraces the Bush narrative on the Iraq Debacle.

Senator Feingold, apparently one of the few Democrats whose brain (folks love to talk about Feingold's spine when what is most admirable in Feingold is his brain, both for policy AND politics; Feingold was on top of the Iraq issue when the celebrated Rahmbo was still cowering in the corner on the issue) seems to be functioning in Washington, explains it in a manner easy to understand:

When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took up the Biden-Hagel resolution opposing the President’s troop escalation proposal last week, I supported it as a first step toward ending our involvement in this war. That resolution didn’t go nearly far enough – it was nonbinding and just focused on the escalation – but putting the Senate on record against the "surge" was a small step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the new Warner-Levin resolution that many Democrats are pushing is flawed and unacceptable. It rejects the surge, but it also misunderstands the situation in Iraq and endorses the President’s underlying approach. It’s basically a back-door authorization of the President’s misguided policies, and passing it would be a big mistake. Under the guise of constructive criticism, the Warner-Levin resolution signs off on the President continuing indefinite military operations in Iraq that will not address the fundamental political challenges in Iraq, and that continue to distract us from developing a comprehensive and global approach to the threats that face our nation.

Matt, have you SEEN the Warner resolution? Can you possibly explain to me why the Democratic Senate is supporting a Republican resolution that provides political cover for Republicans while EMBRACING the essence of the Bush Adminstration's disastrous Iraq policy? This proposal is possibly the worst that could have been conceived for the Democrats in every way. As a practical measure, it is nonbinding so it does nothing. As a question of policy, it is catastrophically bad as it is a de facto adoption of the Bush Iraq Debacle by Democrats. As a question of politics it is perhaps the stupidest proposal that I have ever seen conceived. Moderate Republicans GET COVER without actually effecting Bush's surge. The Democratic Party goes on the record embracing the Iraq Debacle (all but the surge don't you know), the very Debacle that doomed the Republicans to defeat in 2006 and would insure GOP defeat in 2008.

Congratulations, Senate Dems, you have somehow managed to do nothing practical on Iraq, you have embraced the most catastrophic foreign policy blunder in recent memory and gotten the GOP off the hook politically -- all for a NONBINDING resolution. I would not have thought it possible.

Ed Kilgore wrote:

[I]f supporters of the Warner resolution are calling for a change of mission that means "withdraw combat troops," then maybe the allegedly vast gulf among Democrats and even some Republicans on Iraq isn't as vast as it seems.

Sorry Ed, not only does the Warner resolution not call for withdrawal of troops, it expressly embraces the every part of the Bush policy EXCEPT the surge. Senator Feingold describes it thusly:

I’m going to focus on section 22 of the findings, which is nothing short of an endorsement of the status quo in Iraq and that is simply unacceptable. It rejects exactly what is most needed in Iraq – an "immediate reduction in, or withdrawal of, the present level of forces." If you vote for this resolution, you are voting against redeploying troops from Iraq. This resolution doesn’t fix the administration’s failed Iraq policy – it just takes us back to where we were before the escalation. It’s not enough to reject the "surge" if you aren’t willing to support a plan for redeploying our troops. It’s all downhill from there in (b)2. The resolution goes on to support "continuing[ing] vigorous operations in Anbar province, specifically for the purpose of combating an insurgency." Apparently, some people think that our troops should be involved in putting down the Sunni insurgency in western Iraq. Actually, the President’s policy of maintaining a massive, open-ended military presence in Iraq has been inflaming the insurgency in that country from the start. I support the idea of targeted counter-terrorism missions to take out terrorist elements in Iraq, but we shouldn’t ask our brave troops to remain there to put down an Iraqi insurgency any more than we can expect them to end Shi’ite-Sunni sectarian conflict in Baghdad.

Feingold notes that the Senate was in Democratic hands in 2002 when in an act of craven stupidity, a majority of Democrats voted for the disagrace AUMF for Ieaq. In 2002, taking the advice of DLC-style DLC consultants, too many Democrats yelled "me too!" and cravenly supported the disgraceful October 10, 2002 Authorization To Use Force that contained the following travesties:

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;

Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens;

Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;

Whereas Iraq’s demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;

. . . Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq’s ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction . . . make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;

Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force(Public Law 107–40); and

Whereas it is in the national security interests of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,



.—The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to—

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

This travesty resulted from the type of attitude exhibited by Yglesias and Kilgore. They were both wrong in 2002 and they repeat their mistakes now. This fear of a principled stand - the chronic disease of Democrats, is exactly what threatens the potential Dem realignment.

I again urge the Netroots and the Democratic Party to not forget the lessons of the 2006 elections:

This was the intellectual battle the Netroots, led by one Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, has fought with the DC Establishment for 4 years:

While Brownstein is right about the belief from most of us that the right politics demands confrontation with Bush and contrast with the Republicans, I think he is wrong to believe that this approach alienates independent swing voters. If anything, the alignment that Indys are having with Dems in most polling shows that it is exactly the opposite. That this approach is ATTRACTING swing voters. This is where the fundamental divide between the DLC Centrists and us lies. Where we think the swing voter will land. Take my friend Ed Kilgore of the DLC for instance. Ed is a sharp thinker and writer, but Ed lacks confidence in our Democratic ideals:
[S]everal other centrist party strategists worry that the hyperpartisan turn-out-the-base strategy that many online activists demand won't work for Democrats, because polls consistently show that more Americans consider themselves conservative than liberal. "We are more of a coalition party than they are," says Ed Kilgore, the policy director for the DLC. "If we put a gun to everybody's head in the country and make them pick sides, we're not likely to win."

Ed, this is simply not true. And once you realize that, you will see why we are right and you are wrong. When we make folks pick sides agains the GOP Extremism of Dobson and the committed support to a policy of making sure the government leaves you alone in your private decisions advocated by Liberals, they will pick our side, in droves. Don't fear that fight.

And that is the real lesson, at least for me, of Markos and dailykos.

Are we forgetting these lessons? I fear we are. The Netroots must not forget this fight, how we won it and how we must continue to win it in our Democratic Party.

On the issue of Iraq, we must win it for moral as well as political reasons. Too many have died and will die. But from now on the deaths are, at least in part, on our consciences. This is a Democratic Congress. We can stop the war. If we do not, as Senator Feingold says, it is a failure of will.

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    Correction (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Edger on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 07:56:19 AM EST
    That should read: "too many Democrats in Congress are self-serving politicians as much as are the Republicans."

    This is a Democratic Congress. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Edger on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 07:21:03 AM EST
    We can stop the war. If we do not, as Senator Feingold says, it is a failure of will.

    He's right. They have to be pushed into it. There is no question of the morality of it. On the political side, the democrats in Congress are self-serving politicians as much as are the Republicans. The ground is shifting constantly under their feet and their so busy looking for a safe place to stand that they haven't yet figured out there isn't one, and that even if there were one standing still means being left behind by everyone else who is moving.

    Lead, follow, get the f*ck out of the way, or be flattened by the tide is the message they haven't yet gotten.

    Asleep (none / 0) (#3)
    by squeaky on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 10:54:06 AM EST
    Most of these guys are sound asleep. We need to have emergency elections and vote them out. That should wake them from their cronic sonambulism.

    The Irony Is That If Franken Gets Elected...

    there'll be one less joker in the Senate.

    by tristero  

    What are they thinking, or more accurately, dreaming about?

    You would think that (none / 0) (#4)
    by Edger on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 11:10:26 AM EST
    November 2006 would have woken at least a few of them up, in time to see that the same thing can happen to them.

    Whereas: (none / 0) (#5)
    by wlgriffi on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 12:51:19 PM EST
    Whereas: the Democratic majority has embraced the concept of bi-partisan acceptance of GOP evasivness regarding the "BUSH SURGE" Sense of the Senate Resolution language it leaves the democratic rank and file no choice but to form a grass roots draft Feingold for president drive.

    Enough is enough.

    As per Squeaky, (none / 0) (#6)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 04:02:40 PM EST
    We need to form an alternative governmnet.

    There is good precedent (none / 0) (#7)
    by Edger on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 04:15:50 PM EST
    from a couple of hundred years ago.

    "To Live Outside The Law, You Must Be Honest", and when enough people do it out of necessity they end up writing documents that begin with words like "We the people......."


    But not me I guess (none / 0) (#8)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 08:40:58 PM EST
    I can't even SPELL it. Bah!

    You Got To Dance With Them What Brung You (none / 0) (#9)
    by john horse on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 08:59:04 PM EST
    Regarding the knife that some Senate Democrats just left in our backs, let me remind them of what the late great Molly Ivins once wrote "You got to dance with them what brung you."

    The reason that the Democrats now control both the House and the Senate is because the majority of the American public don't want accomodation, they want an end to this war.  

    Hillary talks out of both sides of her mouth (none / 0) (#10)
    by John Konop on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 06:06:31 AM EST
    Hillary talks out of both sides of her mouth


    I saw Hillary Clinton's speech on C-span when she said if she was President we would have not gone to war in Iraq. Hillary and her husband had more information about why not to go to the war then any other Senator and Congressman.

    My question is why did Clinton vote for a war she did not support? And if she voted for the war because of WMD, if we found them how would anything be any different in Iraq? If Hillary supports attacking Countries over WMD does she want to attack North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Syria...?