The Politics Of Exiting Iraq

David Brooks provides a window on the Politics of Exiting Iraq:

The fact is there are two serious approaches to U.S. policy in Iraq, and the Democratic leaders, for purely political reasons, are caught in the middle, and even people like Carl Levin are beginning to sound silly.

One serious position is heard on the left: that there’s nothing more we can effectively do in Iraq. . . . The second serious option is heard on the right. We have to do everything we can to head off catastrophe, and it’s too soon to give up hope. . . .

Say what you will about President Bush, when he thinks a policy is right, like the surge, he supports it, even if it’s going to be unpopular. The Democratic leaders, accustomed to the irresponsibility of opposition, show no such guts. As a result, nobody loves them. Liberals recognize the cynicism of it all. Republicans know the difference between principled opposition and unprincipled posturing. Independents see just another group of politicians behaving like politicians.

I have repeated this too many times - the political options on Iraq are binary. You are for Bush's Iraq Debacle or you are against it. The "nuance," if it ever existed, is gone. The Blue Dogs and the fools who enable them - to wit, the Dem leaders in the House - live in a political fantasyland. They have to pick a side now. There is no other way, whether they like it or not.

The truth is the Dems need leadership in the House and they are not getting it. In the Senate, Reid seems to have regained his footing. In the House, Pelosi seems stuck in quicksand. And the Netroots seems intent on enabling this failure of political and policy leadership. It is quite disheartening, on all levels. We need new leaders - everywhere.

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    If Reid can get the message (not sure he has) (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:22:12 PM EST
    then Pelosi can too. My sense continues to tell me that Hoyer is the problem.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:41:33 PM EST
    Not the only issue.

    Pelosi can subject the blue dogs (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:44:50 PM EST
     to real punishment. I'm trying to figure out why she won't do it. You could argue that she's too cautious, but if that's true, then why did she support Murtha in the leadership race?

    Something's rotten at the top, and I really find it difficult to believe that the problem is Pelosi (though I suppose it's possible that she's just got this one totally wrong).  


    Let's hope (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by buhdydharma on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:49:13 PM EST
    that she is just trying to build unity with the Dogs and Hoyer....and learns quickly.

    Quickly would have been yesterday (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by TexDem on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 09:00:33 AM EST
    I understand that there is a learning curve in becoming the majority again but while she's learning  our troops are dying.

    If Hoyer is the problem then she needs to encourage him to step aside or get with the program. You can't have two leaders. If he wanted to be speaker he should have made an honest run, not be underhanded in his responsibilities now. A whip should be whipping to bring the majority together not further divide them.


    Brooks B.S. (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by roboleftalk on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:25:32 PM EST
    The republicans are absolutely not principled.  If they were, if they truly believed there are only two ways, and their way was the one to take, they would do "everything they can"--call for a universal draft and taxes to pay for the war.  They simply are not doing that at all--not even close.

    Bush's failure to properly plan for the war, not to mention lying us into it, is so far beyond any wrong by the democrats that Brooks' head in the sand argument is truly revolting.  Bush has treated this war as the sport of kings.  Delusional, if not totally cynical.

    I dunno (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:41:07 PM EST
    Why is she stuck in quicksand (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by vcmvo2 on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:31:45 PM EST
    Is it Hoyer and the blue dogs giving her a hard time, Can't she make her own pronouncement or proposal, She's the Speaker for god's sake!

    I dunno (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:40:56 PM EST
    The Speaker is akin to a Prime Minister (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Demi Moaned on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 02:23:40 AM EST
    ... in a parliamentary system. The parties (especially the Democrats) are coalitions and being the Speaker depends on the ability to deliver votes-- if not on the floor, at least in caucus.
    Can't she make her own pronouncement or proposal

    A lot of the Speaker's power comes from the ability to act through others. If the Speaker takes a public stand on a matter of intra-party controversy, it would seem to me to be a sign of weakness.

    Much more effective would be to give the faction you support private encouragement then use the discretionary powers of your position to game the system to give rhetorical and strategic advantage to the side you favor.

    What's puzzling here is that the debate seems to have been 'gamed' to give the Blue Dog-Republican coalition the controlling power over the terms of the debate.

    It may not be smart politics, but at least it perpetuates bad policy.


    Pray for a quick learning curve (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by buhdydharma on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:46:50 PM EST
    And a way around Hoyer.

    Now I am starting to wonder who the "swing voters" are in the House.

    I would much prefer Pelosi put up a medium strong anti-war bill and see who votes how, instead of watering it down. At least we would get a clear picture of who stands where.

    But I fear this whole thing is just a "learning experience." Since it is going nowhere anyway after all the drama...will they learn to do the right thing and strongly oppose Bush? Or mistakenly learn to try to capitulate even more?

    I should have read further before responding to (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by TexDem on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 09:05:36 AM EST
    you above. We were thinking along the same track.

    Learning experience (4.33 / 6) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:51:08 PM EST
    Hoping the Out of Iraq caucus does the teaching.

    yup (5.00 / 4) (#14)
    by buhdydharma on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:53:45 PM EST
    WE know they won't get anything by appeasing Bush.

    Our only hope is THEM figuring that out.


    Let's hear it for the teachers (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by TexDem on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 09:07:51 AM EST
    Hip, hip. Now go kick some Bluedog butt.

    Well, there are other voices to be heard... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by A Citizen on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 01:03:53 AM EST
    And Just when you think you know what's gonna happen next.... you get a surprise!

    This was a nice one though.

    David Brooks? (4.66 / 3) (#1)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:22:07 PM EST
    Political guru?  Please!  No doubt Brooks' only motive is to help the Democrats end the war and achieve electoral success.

    That's not the point (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:40:23 PM EST
    Is Brooks wrong on the political spin?

    You launch a silly red herring and pretend that Brooks is describing a political reality that does not exist.

    Do you think he is wrong on the political reality? If so why?


    I believe that (3.00 / 2) (#13)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 11:51:53 PM EST
    there is unquestionably a Republican push to define the Democratic legislation, and it certainly appears to run in concert with the Out Of Iraq position.  Numerous Republicans have denigrated the idea of non-binding resolutions and said that the only honorable thing is for the Democrats to push fully binding resolutions that defund the war (and preferably, if you read between the lines, mock the troops).

    Are these Republicans genuinely interested in the "honor" or "logical consistency" of the Democrats?  They are not.  I believe that they're making two political calculations.  The first is that the stronger the bill is, the less chance it has of getting through.  The second is that they will be able to use votes for a stronger resolution against Democrats in 2008.

    I'm not making any judgement on whether they're accurately forecasting the effects of a stronger resolution, but I have very little doubt that my analysis of their thinking is correct.

    Brooks' argument is consistent with this broader Republican position -- which I've heard from McCain, Boehner, and others.  Basically -- we dare you to go all the way.  This is the Republican Party line and I'm sure they believe that it would lead to Democratic loses, not victories.


    This is another red herring (1.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 12:02:06 AM EST
    The question iof WHAT they are trying to do is not what I ask, it is will it work? The answer is undeniably yes.

    The difference between when Rove ran this game in the summer of 2006 and now is the Dems DID NOT FALL FOR IT in the summer of 2006. NOw, they do.

    You write:

    there is unquestionably a Republican push to define the Democratic legislation, and it certainly appears to run in concert with the Out Of Iraq position.  Numerous Republicans have denigrated the idea of non-binding resolutions and said that the only honorable thing is for the Democrats to push fully binding resolutions that defund the war (and preferably, if you read between the lines, mock the troops).

    Just as Rove did. What is the right5 answer in this BINARY WORLD? OPPOSE the Iraq Debacle. Which position is that? Think for a moment and see if you can understand the politics YET. IT is not because Brooks says it is - Brooks said that being for Out oif Iraq would lost the 2006 election - it is that it is just as binary now, more so, than it was then.

    Try thinking it through one more time.


    I've thought it through. . . (none / 0) (#16)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 12:06:34 AM EST
    but only enough to know that I don't have an opinion on the political fallout of a stronger vs a weaker resolution.

    I do believe that Brooks has an opinion -- that a stronger resolution benefits the Republicans.  Therefore, I believe that any political analysis of his that advocates a stronger resolution from the Democrats is not honest political analysis but an attempt to create what he believes will be a political benefit for Repulicans.


    Nonsequitor again (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 12:16:49 AM EST
    Brooks is wromng on what helps, but NOT ewrong on the binary nature of thepolitical calculus.

    That Brooks is forwarding the idea is to demonstrate who it is in the consciousness. THAT cannot be ignored.


    PS (none / 0) (#17)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 12:09:14 AM EST
    I agree that the issue of Brooks is unrelated to the issue of what is either the "right" or the "best" thing to do in terms of Iraq legislation.  But being unrelated it makes no sense to use his argument in support of yours.

    but for AWARENESS that it is in the air purposes.

    You realize, of course, that critcizing Dems is (2.66 / 3) (#22)
    by mentaldebris on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 02:08:39 AM EST
    going to prolong the war. At least I read something that indicated that somewhere.

    The American voter is a simple being.

    Voter: I voted for Dems to end the war.

    Time passes.

    Voter: Hmmm, Dems are futzing around and not ending the war and are leaving Bush open to declare another one.

    Prediction: War likely to be in full swing in '08 and maybe BushCo will get their wish on Iran.

    Voter: I see Dems have still done nothing to end war. Why should I vote for Dems who did nothing of consequence to end war?

    Typical voters don't care about politics, they don't care about Blue Dogs and deals and amendments, binding or non-binding. They don't do nuance.

    Why do you think Bush got a second term? He speaks in their black and white language. You are for the war or for ending the war. There is no gray on this. No compromise that "sort of" puts limits on the war.

    Here's what they hear -- Pelosi saying she trusted Bush.  This was one of the most idiotic and disappointing things I've heard uttered in DC in the last few days (and that's saying something). Nancy, what are you thinking?

    This situation (assuming the status quo is maintained) is becoming ripe for a third party candidate to swoop in and take advantage.

    Whether it's Hagel (laughable -- he has Specter Syndrome -- all talk but sniveling coward at heart) the flaming conservative who calls press conferences to highlight the fact he can't make a decision, or Bloomberg, who I don't know enough about to gauge his chances, or someone else.

    If Dems don't move on this by '08 I predict a lot of people are going standing around the day after the election wondering what the hell just happened to that glorious Dem majority we were supposed to get because the voter only knows what they can see and so far (yes, it's early, but it an disgraceful start in regards to Iraq) they aren't seeing anything.

    P.S. Voters don't care we have a slim majority -- they don't do nuance.

    I smell a rat. (none / 0) (#21)
    by walt on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 01:24:49 AM EST
    Jack Murtha is a retired Marine colonel (prior enlisted, active duty & reserve service--highly decorated) & his broadly based bill was dead on arrival; ignored by all.  Murtha has had his chops together with the Pentagon & the military industrial complex for years.  He's often the go-to guy on legislation.  But on this, ziff.

    The usually "un-named" Blue Dog Democrats slink around with a wish-washy total crap bill (even the GOoPerz laugh at it) that seems to have some kind of attraction to Pelosi & Hoyer.

    [Insert all known expletives here!]

    Something is rotten???

    This little immorality play is beginning to look like something scripted by Hank Mann & the Keystone Kops.  Fa-doop.

    My question is (none / 0) (#27)
    by peacrevol on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 09:23:59 AM EST
    What has Bill the bonfire killer (Gates) done since he took over? Has he improved anything? Has he done anything at all?

    Bob not Bill (none / 0) (#28)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 09:58:29 AM EST
    yeah, robert gates (none / 0) (#29)
    by peacrevol on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 10:59:28 AM EST
    bill gates is the computer guy. :/

    anybody smell that? brain flatulance. my bad

    In related news (none / 0) (#30)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 10:27:31 PM EST
    Harry Reid's resolution, which called for the withdrawal of all but a limited number of U.S. forces from Iraq by March 31, 2008, has failed. The Senate rejected it by a vote of 50-48.

    UPDATE: The Gregg Amendment, which I understand calls says that Congress should not eliminate or reduce funds for troops in the field, has passed 82-16. The Murray Amendment, which I understand calls for Congress to provide funds for training, equipment and other support for troops in the field, has passed 96-2.

    Looking bad, eh??