Ending the Iraq Debacle . . . AFTER the 2008 Election

I always suspected this was the real strategy behind the House Dems' Iraq proposal. But Matt Stoller makes it explicit:

My strategic end goal is to end the war. To do that involves a process of showing that the Democratic caucus is unified behind putting restrictions on Bush and his ability to fight the war, and then using that pressure to remove Republicans (and wayward Democrats) from office in 2008.

All the blather about communications strategies and making the war illegal, etc. was just so much talk. But at least Stoller is now forthright about it. Read what a DemHillStaffer writes on the other side.

If [Bush] ignores [the House proposal], we sue and the courts enforce it. if he ignores that, we're in massive constitutional crisis.

See? The plan is to sue Bush in October 2008, one month before an election and expect the Supreme Court to do what it never has done - involve itself in matters of war. This is a dishonest joke.

IF the House Dems wanted to end the Iraq Debacle, they would NOT fund it. But they do not want to end it. They want to RUN ON IT in 2008. Oh by the way, if you think Dems will not vote more funding for the War in October 2008, a month before the election, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

You want to support that? That's your perogative. But please do not for a moment insinuate that you are representing the PROGRESSIVE position. You want the Progressive position? How about what the Nation says:

Democrats gained control of Congress in November with the charge to bring the occupation to a swift conclusion. Yet, as we mark the fourth anniversary of the war, the story of the 110th Congress still seems to be one of an opposition party struggling to come to grips with its authority to upend a President's misguided policies.

. . . Forcing Americans and Iraqis to die for Bush's delusions for another year while emptying the Treasury at a rate of more than $1 billion a week is unconscionable. That is why House members who have battled hardest to end the war are so frustrated with Pelosi's approach. "This plan would require us to believe whatever the President would tell us about progress that was being made," says Representative Maxine Waters, speaking for the bipartisan Out of Iraq Caucus. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Lynn Woolsey has been blunter, saying of the legislation, "There's no enforcement mechanism."

Waters and Woolsey are right. While we respect efforts by antiwar Democrats like Jim McDermott and Jerrold Nadler to negotiate with Pelosi in hopes of improving the legislation, conservative Blue Dog Democrats have already signaled that the price of their support will be the removal of any teeth put into the plan by progressives. Worse, they have tampered with the legislation in ways that may even encourage Bush's interventionist tendencies: The Democratic proposal for a timeline originally included a provision that would have required Bush to seek Congressional approval before using military force against Iran. But under pressure from conservative members of her caucus and lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Pelosi removed the language. By first including the provision and then removing it, Pelosi and her aides have given Bush an opening to claim that he does not require Congressional approval for a wider war.

The haggling over compromises points up the flaw in Pelosi's approach: It is too soft, too slow, too open to lobbying mischief and abuse by a President who has done nothing but abuse Congress for six years. America and the world are not crying out for a timeline that might begin extracting troops from Iraq a year from now. Almost 200 American soldiers, and thousands of Iraqis, have died since the Democrats took control of Congress. To accept that the war will go on for another year, at the least, is to accept that the death toll will continue to mount.

Democrats should recognize that the time has come to use the full power accorded Congress in time of war: the power of the purse. As Senator Russ Feingold says, "Some will claim that cutting off funding for the war would endanger our brave troops on the ground. Not true. The safety of our servicemen and -women in Iraq is paramount, and we can and should end funding for the war without putting our troops in further danger."

That, my friends, is the PROGRESSIVE position. Supporting this cynical political cravenness from the House Dems is the DC Beltway Establishment position.

Perhaps that is the right position. I strongly think it is not, both politically and policywise. But it is time for those who support this proposal to STOP pretending they are representing the Progressive position as they clearly are not.

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    What is the Out of Iraq caucus doing now? (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by brainwave on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 04:08:17 PM EST
    I'm actually fairly confused about who's doing what now. I wonder whether we could have a "state of play" diary one of these days. Or is there a good summary somewhere else?

    So much so the Dems are nervous about passage.



    yep (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by TexDem on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 06:31:42 PM EST
    It's funny that you quote (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 04:18:06 PM EST
    DemHIllStaffer; S/he was supporting the Leadersdhip's funding bill elsewhere in the thread.

    I think that it is funny (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 04:24:50 PM EST
    that the self proclaied "progressive" Matt Stoller is mouthing the exact words of the Beltway Dems.

    I wish he would stop flying under false colors.


    The Word "progressive" grates on my ears (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 04:34:46 PM EST
    I much prefer "liberal," tarred though it's been recently. Oh, and I think that Stoller is 100% wrong here.

    Worse than wrong (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 04:36:09 PM EST
    False colors.

    Too disgusted to comment (5.00 / 5) (#7)
    by buhdydharma on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 04:42:54 PM EST
    Democratic power seems to be the only goal....but Democratic power to what end?

    If you don't use power to make REAL changes...what is the point of having it? The only answer to that is deeply cynical.

    Deny them their reward (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 04:44:36 PM EST
    Long term strategy would requires us to sit out the next election so that we are not taken for granted in the future.

    I am close to endorsing this, depnding on what happens the rest of this year.


    That idea (none / 0) (#13)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 05:06:57 PM EST
    really doesn't sit well with me, and I couldn't support it. Even if we're in Iraq for 100 years--and I want us to take every action to ensure that we're not--it isn't acceptable to let the Republicans back into power. History shows that they'll try to pass hate laws and will give free passes to extreme nominees.

    Then (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 05:34:01 PM EST
    accept being crapped on forever.

    yep. forever. (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Compound F on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 05:47:02 PM EST
    but I don't think this is just about 2008.  there are the bases to think of, as well as Israel and our Sunni "allies."  It's really not that far from Lieberman's behavior.  Or Rove's.  All power, no principle.  

    That is the price (none / 0) (#23)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 06:52:31 PM EST
    of finding one political party completely unaccetable in its current incarnation.

    Nope (none / 0) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 07:01:36 PM EST
    That is the consequence of being forever loyal.

    Letting the Republicans win (none / 0) (#35)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 10:52:03 PM EST
    Is simply unacceptable. Members of the faction of that party who wield power are the ideological successors to the Dixiecrats.

    Wow! (none / 0) (#34)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 09:47:36 PM EST
    Long term strategy would requires us to sit out the next election so that we are not taken for granted in the future.

    Cool -- we could be just like the far-right, except because we're so much more efficient we'll just skip the twenty years of actually being in power and go straight to the party meltdown.

    What happened the last time you advocated sitting out an election?  I'll give you a hint -- it starts with B-L-O-O-M and ends with "berg".  Not that I particularly object to that outcome, but I very much doubt that on the national scene it will play out as well.

    Who'd a thunk it -- me lecturing you on party loyalty!


    The subtext of my comment. . . . (none / 0) (#42)
    by LarryInNYC on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 08:01:07 AM EST
    Is several years of BTD reminding me of my lack of loyalty to the Democratic Party.  And it's true that for many years (since Lieberman was elected) I was a registered independent, only re-enrolling to vote for Dean in the 2004 primary.  So I'm surprised to see BTD now advocating abandoning the party.

    Freddie Ferrer (none / 0) (#43)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 08:55:03 AM EST
    compares to this IRaq situation how?

    See, you really do not think your comments through sometimes Lar.


    SO let me try and get the proposal staright (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by pontificator on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 04:46:01 PM EST
    Because I want to fully understand what the proposal is before I can evaluate it.

    (1) Dems announce that they will not fund the Iraq war past a date certain (let's pick Jan. 1, 2008 for purposes of this discussion).

    (2) Dems refuse to pass any legislation that funds the Iraq war past January 1, 2008.  Presumably, somehow legislation is passed that funds the war through December 31, 2007, and no further.

    (3) On January 1, 2008, 218 Dems simply refuse to pass any more approrpiations for the war, period.

    Are there any concrete legislative steps that Dems are required to take other than the ones listed above?

    Nope (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 05:33:34 PM EST
    That's it.

    So how do you (none / 0) (#17)
    by pontificator on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 05:52:29 PM EST
    pass legislation to only fund the war through 12/31/2007?  How does that work?

    By offe ring it (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 06:09:07 PM EST
    and stop playing the "restriction" games.

    Pick an end date.

    Do NOt  own this Debacle.

    Darn simple really.


    Well (none / 0) (#19)
    by pontificator on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 06:16:12 PM EST
    then you have to pass it.

    And that brings all the problems with the Blue Dog Dems, the Lieberman and the Senate Repubs, and the Veto.

    I was trying to discern whether this was truly a plan that could bypass those obstacles, but it doesn't seem to be so.


    then it's their fault (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Compound F on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 06:33:47 PM EST
    for not funding the war.  they don't support the troops.  they would rather see them die on the plains of Iraq than fund them to a certain date that would allow their safe withdrawal.

    Say what? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 06:42:16 PM EST
    What obstacles?  Fund to a date certain.

    No restrictions. Bush vetoes that? See, you  are just making it up now Pontificator.

    There is no basis for objecting by anyone.

    I honestly have to question your good faith on this after that comment.


    You can question it (none / 0) (#24)
    by pontificator on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 06:52:54 PM EST
    But you would be wrong.

    I'm trying to understand your position.

    So, you fund to a date certain, with no restrictions whatsoever, at the same time announcing your intent to not pass any additional fundraising for the war after the date certain.

    And you expect the Senate Repubs to just go along and not block that particular piece of spending, or try to amend it so that the amount of funding goes for another year.

    And then, once you're tied up in a legislative fight, you realize that you've been put in a position where you have no choice but to stop funding here and now, or agree to compromise proposal that funds the war a year beyond what you originally intended.

    I'm not sure you've really thought through how this would work in practice.


    Block on WHAT BASIS? (none / 0) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 07:01:02 PM EST
    I do not even understand what you are arguing.

    The time frame is a basis for filibuster?

    And you do not want to take THAT FIGHT to the country?

    You have to be kidding me.

    I can't take that argument seriously.

    Due respect, I don't.


    No (none / 0) (#28)
    by pontificator on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 07:05:56 PM EST
    The Senate would stall the debate, insisting on adding another year to the funding, because what the Dems are really trying to do is cut off funding and "cut and run" when the supplemental runs outs.  They would be saying it because that's precisely what we would be saying.  And they would use that in the Senate to start putting in amendments to extend the funding.  And then we'd be tied up and in a position where we either would have to decide to stop funding NOW or give in to their demands.

    Of course, we might win that battle, but it would definitely be a battle.

    You can jump and scream and trounce around all you want, but I really don't think you've thought through the practicicalities of this.  I'm not saying you're wrong.  I think you're probably wrong, but I'm not sure yet.  I do know you haven't put in the serious work into how your proposal would play out.

    And that's my last word on this subject on this thread.  I'll see you on the next thread.


    Sheesh (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 07:29:36 PM EST
    You say

    "You can jump and scream and trounce around all you want, but I really don't think you've thought through the practicicalities of this.  I'm not saying you're wrong.  I think you're probably wrong, but I'm not sure yet.  I do know you haven't put in the serious work into how your proposal would play out."

    It is EXACTLY what I have thought trough. You seem to think the GOP willnot JUMP and SCREAM at anything that is done.

    Are they doing it for your House Dem proposal? And are there vulnerablilities to it?

    MINE is the cleanest and best ground to fight on and you are so blind in your home teamism that you just deny the obvious.

    Please don't come back with the nothing you are bringing so far. BEc ause it is embarrassing to you right now.


    Big Tent has is right. (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Compound F on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 01:06:55 AM EST
    We won that election.  Elections have consquences.   Make it so, Number One.

    How? Why? (none / 0) (#36)
    by brainwave on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 11:16:49 PM EST
    Your intent to cease funding after the date certain is not part of the appropriation bill. So on what grounds are the 'pubs going to reject the bill? It seems to be that the only option they'd have is to propose a continuing resolution instead, in order to remove the date certain from the bill:

    . Appropriations are generally done on an annual basis, although multi-year appropriations are occasionally passed. According to the United States Constitution (Article I, Section 8, clause 12), military appropriations cannot be for more than two years at a time. An annual appropriation requires that the funds appropriated be obligated (spent) by the end of the fiscal year of the appropriation. Once the fiscal year ends, no more money can be spent via the prior year's appropriation. A new appropriation for the new fiscal year must be passed in order for continued spending to occur, or passage of a special appropriations bill known as a continuing resolution, which generally permits continued spending for a short period of time--usually at prior year levels.

    And I'm not even sure that would be practicable in this case. And if they do propose a continuing resolution, then we have them fight for openended war, rather than us fighting for ending the war.


    I agree. (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by mattd on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 04:49:29 PM EST
    I agree that the Democrats should act to end the war, and if defunding is the only option available to them to enforce it, that's what they should do.

    I disagree that the Bush administration will obey any law they pass restricting the administration's conduct.

    That doesn't mean Democrats shouldn't act.  It means that I think the reality is that even this action won't stop the US involvement in the war.  I understand the position of Democrats who believe that they shouldn't bother with any act that won't have any real effect, but I disagree with it.  You stand up for what you believe, and if others refuse to obey the law, you deal with them when they do it.

    It's very clear, now. (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by walt on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 05:00:20 PM EST
    Obviously, there is no intent by the majority of Democratic Party members in the House to end the failed occupation of Iraq.  It will simply drag on.  This is rapidly becoming a non-issue.

    The myopic vision thing (none / 0) (#32)
    by dutchfox on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 07:37:54 PM EST
    is that the Dems are just looking toward 2008, and that's sickening!

    From Fragments, Or: Promise of the Dems, I --  

    In the grand scheme of things, the Democrats' victory last November will likely produce little of significance, and less still that is praiseworthy. The pro-business Democratic Leadership Council, epitomized by the Clintons, along with the socially conservative Blue Dogs, seem to have won the day, while hope for a left of any sort, much less a radical left, remains ethereal.[...]

    It's important to remember that most of the Democrats who were victors in the 2006 elections did not run positive campaigns. They simply ran against the fiascos and bungles and corruption that have taken place under the Bush administration, promising nothing except that they were not the bastards who got the country into Iraq. But as Mike Davis notes, "the irony of the anti-war vote [is] that it elected Democrats who are under no obligation to actually end the barbarous US occupation" (1). It should come as no surprise, then, that this congress does not possess any concrete goal or even outlined program; rather, it is aiming to ensure the Presidency in 2008: in a word, `centrism'.

    Friends, it's worth your time to read all of it here.


    Not just the progressive position. (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by roboleftalk on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 05:05:16 PM EST
    The majority position.  The reasonable position.  The moral position.  The American position.

    If not the progressive position, then whose? (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Lora on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 06:56:26 PM EST
    Why end the war now, when you can put it off to 2008?  Plays right into repub's hands for now.  WHO won the 2006 election again?  Anyone the repubs aren't happy with?

    Constitutional crisis (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by bob5540 on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 07:08:46 PM EST
    I'd like to know: What's the big deal about a Constitutional crisis? Why is Matt (and he is not alone) so afraid it will come to that?

    I say, let's have one. I say, if he ignores us, them impeach the bastard and the Cheney he rode in on.

    Defunding is not a Constitutional Crisis (none / 0) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 07:26:53 PM EST
    IT is more of the same ignorant BS from Stoller.

    Email from PDA re MoveOn email (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by conchita on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 08:51:44 PM EST
    So we are not the only ones on this.  Just received an email from PDA asking its members to vote to opppose the Dem leadership plan:


    MoveOn is polling its membership on whether to support or oppose the loophole-ridden Democratic leadership plan that prolongs the Iraq occupation on a slow timeline - slower than what most American voters want. Unfortunately, the MoveOn poll doesn't explain the issues.

    Please vote to "Oppose the Plan" in the MoveOn poll, and spread the word to others. Especially to others who may not be aware that progressive Congressmembers who have carried the antiwar banner on Capitol Hill for years do not approve of the Democratic leadership's plan as currently written.

    And please express yourselves to MoveOn - in the comments box -- that they should support Rep. Barbara Lee's efforts to bring an amendment to the floor for a fully-funded, orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military contractors by the end of 2007.

    Should also mention that I just attended a lecture by Elizabeth Holtzman about impeachment that was sponsored in part by PDA.  Of all the progressive dem organizations out there, PDA seems to be the one most likely to make a difference.

    They are fooling themselves. (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Edger on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 07:08:32 AM EST
    IF the House Dems wanted to end the Iraq Debacle, they would NOT fund it. But they do not want to end it. They want to RUN ON IT in 2008.
    I don't get this. I agree with it, but I think there must be something deeper motivations (and maybe more similar to the neocons than we admit) than we're seeing.

    How can Pelosi and the rest NOT SEE that they are already running on it in 2008, right NOW?

    If they don't end it before 2008 they are toast. I think they must know that - they weren't born yesterday. Something else is driving them - but what???

    No More Democratic Guts To End The Iraq & Mid-East Debacle?
    The Democrats are about to buy this war, and once they've bought it, it will be their war. They won't get another chance to end it, and they'll be even less inclined (if that's possible) to investigate it.

    No More Money: It's a simple concept. The American public wants the war ended. The President wants the war to continue. The 110th Congress was elected to end the war. The Constitution gives Congress the power to cut off the money. Where's the problem?
    If you have a Democratic Congress Member, phone them at 202-224-3121 and tell them you will never vote for a Democrat again until the war ends. Tell them you'll be mailing them your voter registration card and would like it sent back the minute the war is over. It doesn't matter if you actually have such a card in your wallet. The point is to tell them that you will not vote for them if they do not end the war.

    --David Swanson

    When does the current money run out? (none / 0) (#37)
    by Ben Masel on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 11:38:34 PM EST
    Not so much legally, as pactically?