Ending the Debacle In Iraq: What Was The 2006 Election About?

David Sirota crossposts a piece at Daily Kos arguing that Dems are ignoring the judgment of the voters in the 2006 election by not working harder to end the war in Iraq. One commenter disagreed with Sirota on the meaning of the 2006 election, saying:

Ending the war wasn't on the ballot.

Actually, very few Dems ran on "ending the war". Most of them ran on oversight of the war.

To say the vote in November was a vote to end the war is demeaning to each and every voter who voted in the fall. Each voter has their own reasons for voting, and to declare by fiat why they voted is wrong.

This seems not a true statement to me. On the eve of the November 2006 election, the NYTimes reported:

A substantial majority of Americans expect Democrats to reduce or end American military involvement in Iraq if they win control of Congress next Tuesday and say Republicans will maintain or increase troop levels to try to win the war if they hold on to power on Capitol Hill, according to the final New York Times/CBS News poll before the midterm election.

I certainly expected it.

If Blue Dog Dems do not want to end the war, and let's be clear, defunding is the only way it is going to happen, then they and their supporters should argue the merits of their position.

But to argue that Democrats were not running on the premise that they would end the war if the gained control of Congress is more than a bit disingenuous.

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    Re: I certainly expected it. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Edger on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 12:06:59 PM EST
    I agree - virtually everyone who voted for a Democratic candidate expected it, I think.

    Even those who voted for Stephanie Herseth in South Dakota probably expected it.

    David Sirota also has this to say this morning:

    In the Washington Post's solid writeup of the debate over Iraq in the House, a faction of Democrats continues to attack the very Election 2006 mandate they were vaulted into office on: opposition to the war. Justifying her opposition to bills that would stop President Bush's military escalation, we get this from South Dakota's lone House member:
    "I don't think we should be overreacting to public opinion polls."
    I give Herseth credit - her use of "overreacting" deviously implies that there are just a few very recent polls here and there showing negligible opposition to the war, and that Serious People in Congress should never "overreact" to the supposed fleeting whims of the American people.
    And just a few weeks ago, a CNN poll found that a strong majority wants Congress to cut off funding for President Bush's escalation, while the Washington Post poll found that a majority of Americans want a timeline for withdrawal, want Congress to do what it takes to stop Bush's escalation, and strongly support a plan to force the White House to adhere to strict troop training standards - all positions Herseth and her small faction of "conservative" colleagues oppose in the name of faux "centrism" and "not overreacting."

    Herseth reflects her constituents' opinions (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by annefrank on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 12:12:16 PM EST
    shaped by Faux News.

    Herseth might be well advised to (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Edger on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 12:15:51 PM EST
    remember what it really was that elected her.

    I certainly had pointed things to say about that. (none / 0) (#18)
    by Noor on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 02:11:18 PM EST
    And even more pointed things to say about our resource wars in general.  I haven't been back to that thread, as I am sure my polite yet sharply worded observation has set off a few people.  Unfortunately, I cannot suppress my anti-empire stance, and refuse to even try.  It's a position of conscience, and those who'd have me abandon it might as well try to give me a frontal lobotomy by force -- they'll have better luck.

    And I cannot understand where the quibbles over the polling is coming from.  Even the NewsHour has commented on the November 2006 vote as being a referendum on the war.  I tend to trust their reporting, as they are very, very careful, and are quick to issue corrections when warranted.  I watch their coverage practically every night, and I've never seen them retract that position.



    Culture of corruption (none / 0) (#1)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 11:58:52 AM EST

    It seemed that the big theme if there was one was the "culture of corruption."  Was there a Contract with America like document that set out what the Dems planned to do re Iraq?  

    Well the voters seemed not to agree with you (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 12:04:06 PM EST

    The poll underlined the extent to which the war has framed the midterm elections. Americans cited Iraq as the most important issue affecting their vote, and majorities of Republicans and Democrats said they wanted a change in approach. Twenty percent said they thought the United States was winning in Iraq, down from a high this year of 36 percent in January.

    Change of approach (none / 0) (#8)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 12:27:53 PM EST

    A poll in favor of a "change of approach" is a pretty weak reed to build upon.  Doubling the troop commitment would certainly be fairly characterized as a change of approach.  

    You may notice the ending the war looks to be number seven or higher on the Six for '06 mini-platform.


    Perhaps in part, but Iraq is definitely a (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Noor on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 02:21:13 PM EST
    symptom of the corruption.  The corruption has been wrapped up in the Iraq war from the very beginning.  I'm not sure how it could have been otherwise, for the war itself and its selling was and is corrupt.  I think the reason why the Iraq war is so devastating an issue on its own is that so many have died and suffered for such a bogus enterprise.  In many ways, that sets it apart from the rest of the corruption scandals, and yet the links to the corruption scandals are very apparent.

    Let me say this also:  the war and the corruption scandals are part and parcel of the same underlying rot -- symptoms, if you will.  We have to tackle the symptoms of the underlying dysfunction in the political system, to be sure, but we also have to get at the core disease.  And on that, there are several diagnoses that I'm aware of, and all of them have points in their favor.  


    Democrats' Six for 06 Agenda: (none / 0) (#4)
    by annefrank on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 12:07:50 PM EST
    1.  Real security at home and overseas
    2.  Better American jobs and better pay
    3.  College access for all
    4.  Energy independence and lower gas prices
    5.  Affordable healthcare and the expansion of lifesaving science
    6.  Retirement security and dignity

    Murtha to cut funds for Iraq contractors! (none / 0) (#7)
    by annefrank on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 12:26:32 PM EST
    Woo-Hoo!! (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Noor on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 02:23:42 PM EST
    Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch!  Go, Murtha!

    Petraeus' First New Conference (none / 0) (#9)
    by Edger on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 12:57:31 PM EST
    LA Times, March 8, 2007
    Military action alone won't solve Iraq's problems, Petraeus says
    BAGHDAD -- The new U.S. commander in Iraq acknowledged today that U.S.-led forces could not protect all Iraqis from "thugs with no soul" bent on reigniting sectarian warfare.

    "Any student of history recognizes that there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq," Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said at his first news conference since assuming the command last month.

    Political negotiations were vital and would require reaching out to "some of those who have felt the new Iraq did not have a place for them," Petraeus said. "Military action is necessary to help improve security ... but it is not sufficient."

    Disagree with defunding as only way to end it. (none / 0) (#10)
    by MetaData on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 01:00:10 PM EST
    One of your fundamental assertions is that defunding is the only or best or most direct way to stop the war. Well, maybe, but a lot of Dems are timid about committing to withdrawal, fearful of being labelled soft on the troops or soft on terror. Maybe they should get some guts; maybe Lieberman, the neocon Dems, and Blue Dog Dems will wake up and smell the opinion polls;  maybe the Senate wouldn't filibuster... too many maybes.

    The Democrats didn't get us out of Vietnam, either.

    I see the Republicans being more likely than the Democrats to end the war. At some point the Republican Party will realize that 2008 will be a repeat of 2006 and that they'll lose another 30 seats in the House, 6 seats in the Senate and 3% of party registration.

    The Republican and Conservative brand is being dragged down by the Bush-Cheney, stubborn insistance on sticking to disaster.  The war party, the incompetent party, they can't even run a war right, let alone the government.

    If we were cynical, we could just sit back and let Iraq go to hell and watch the Republicans collapse in 2008. But, as we are Liberals, and not so cynical, we could just amp up the pressure on the Republicans until they demand that Bush start the withdrawal. We could start running anti-war ads in the districts of all the vulnerable Republicans, call this the Move-On. org strategy.

    I think there are certain "friends" on (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by mentaldebris on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 04:50:30 PM EST
    our side of the aisle who would be more than happy to sit back and let Iraq go to hell, unfortunately. It's a very cynical gamble.

    No matter what, (defund, pull-out, stay or any combo) the political odds for repubs and Dems gaming an advantage are 50/50. Regardless what happens I can't see any obvious political upside to this either way. Ending the war has tons of moral upsides though and is truly the only choice Dems have.

    Thanks to BushCo Iraq is pretty much a clusterf**k when viewed from every conceivable angle (except in the accounts of the war profiteers). Because of that no neat choices exist. No happy endings. All was lost the second they invaded the country. The rampant incompetence afterwards was just...stunning.

    I'm for erring on the side of the troops and getting them out of there in any way possible. Others are more educated on suggesting what should come after that. I haven't a clue.

    You might be right about the repubs -- eventually their survival instinct will kick in.


    I think this is the thinking (none / 0) (#21)
    by Noor on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 02:27:27 PM EST
    behind Dr. Dean's 50-state strategy.  The DNC smells blood in the water, and they are going to do their level best to make inroads in traditionally Republican states and districts.  I think it deserves more time to work.  It certainly helped the gains in November 2006.

    Rep. Obey sez "Idiot Liberals" (none / 0) (#11)
    by annefrank on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 01:02:17 PM EST
    need to support war funding!  UGH!

    Obey has a rather apt name (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Edger on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 01:04:03 PM EST
    Rightwingers will have fun with this one! (none / 0) (#13)
    by annefrank on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 01:13:33 PM EST
    To Obey, or not to Obey? (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Edger on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 01:22:26 PM EST
    Good Cop/Bad Cop (none / 0) (#15)
    by DallasBoy on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 01:43:23 PM EST
    That's all this crap is. The Republicans rob the bank and the Democrats drive the getaway car. I know somebody better wise up and understand things are at the boiling point here in the States. Deal with the problem now or the ugly later.

    Does Obey appear (none / 0) (#16)
    by Electa on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 02:02:36 PM EST
    to be having a breakdown.  The military mom  remained very calm throughout the discussion but this Obey character became radical in his responses.  Maybe the pressure is getting to high in the cooker.

    He did get very defensive (none / 0) (#17)
    by Edger on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 02:06:52 PM EST
    and agitated very fast, didn't he? Didn't take him long to start spitting venom about liberals. It reminded me of a stressed out business owner who complains that his day would be just fine thank you if these damn customers didn't keep interrupting him and his agenda. "Just shut up and give me the money."

    sorry, i don't agree (none / 0) (#22)
    by cpinva on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 03:11:25 PM EST
    with your assessment, nor does the time's poll seem to either. it said that most people anticipated that the dems, should they gain in the elections, would do something about iraq. what that might be wasn't particularly well articulated, because the questions weren't pointed in that direction. it appeared to be a reduction in troop levels, but how that would be accomplished wasn't clear either.

    i don't think anyone seriously believed that the moment nancy pelosi was sworn in, all our troops would leave iraq, unless you were under a physician's care. realistically, we didn't get in there overnight, we aren't leaving overnight.

    what we did/do expect is a concerted effort to get our people out of there just as quickly as possible, without leaving a complete disaster in our wake. whether the dems can pull that off remains to be seen.

    A Substantial amount, yes (none / 0) (#24)
    by Stewieeeee on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 10:36:52 PM EST
    But that doesn't automatically mean what you think it means.

    Lets run the math.

    Lets say 60% of all voters in 2006 voted for Dems.

    Lets say 40% of those voters voted to end the war.

    That 40% would represent the 25 - 30% of America that is Liberal/Dem base.

    And it would certainly qualify as a Substantial Amount of the 60% of people who voted Democrat.

    66% to be exact.  Very substantial.

    But it doesn't qualify as the voting group that swung the election to the Democrats.  One would be stupid to think it was.

    It was the 20% of people who voted Dem this time around.  Isolate that subgroup, and do your exit poll, and get back to us.


    Tester ran on the corruption issue.

    McKaskill won big points on Stem Cell.

    Casey won by not being a dick and running against someone who was a dick.

    Webb might have won on the war issue, but then there was that whole macaca thing too!


    Where the War WAS on the ballot (none / 0) (#25)
    by Ben Masel on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 11:18:10 PM EST
    Majority of 32 Wisconsin Towns Vote for Iraq Pullout

    link (none / 0) (#26)
    by Ben Masel on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 11:19:19 PM EST