Iraq and the Dem Congress: Debacle Without End

In March, Harold Meyerson wrote:

In effect, what the protesters are doing is making the unattainable perfect the enemy of the barely-attainable good. Because Obey is quite right: The votes aren't there to shut down funding for the war. What he and Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership in both houses are about is finding some way to curtail the president's determination to pass the war on to his successor regardless of the continuing cost to U.S. interests and lives.

Did the Iraq Supplemental do that? Of course not. But on to Meyerson's Plan B, from:

It took the Democrats, and their dovish Republican allies, four full years to pass a cutoff of funds for U.S. ground forces in Vietnam. . . . Pelosi is steering the same course, for a war even more reckless and absurd than Vietnam.

What is Meyerson saying? That Congress can not end the war 'cuz they don't have the votes.' Well, why not just say that in the first place? As it happens, most of us always knew that. And many of us advocate an approach that requires strong Democrat support only, not waiting for phantom GOP support. This is what galls. The stupidity of it all.

In March, Meyerson wrote:

Over time, as the war drags on, either enough Republicans will join their Democratic colleagues to put an end to U.S. intervention, or they will stick with Bush, thereby ensuring there will be a sufficient number of Democrats in the next Congress to end the war.

What is a sufficient number of Democrats? We have 232 seats in the House now. Is the magic number 290, a veto proof majority? Is that realistic? Oh, not to mention 67 Senators. But a Democratic President will end the war. Ok. I am sure a Democratic President will be eager to be accused of cutting and running and being blamed by the GOP for the predicted rise in violence in Iraq after a US withdrawal. Suuuure. It will all be lies of course, but Dems seem to fear lying smears the most.

Let's cut to the chase -- Meyerson advocates an approach he knows will fail and rejects one that may not work - the Reid-Feingold framework.

Pelosi is a politician herding cats. I think we all know that she wants to end the war. No one says otherwise. What many of us criticize is her failure to adopt a plan that MIGHT end the war, instead sticking to plans that are doomed to failure. It is possible that Dems may reap political dividends in 2008 using this approach, I think not, but it is possible. What it will not do is end the war.

If your primary goal is electing more Dems, perhaps you can see merit in the Dem Congress' approach. I don't but I could see where some might.

But if your primary goal is to end the Debacle, then you can't see merit in the Dem Congress' approach. It so happens I also believe that it is not good politics. I don't see where the Dem Congress improved its political standing with the Iraq Supplemental. And a repeat performance on the 2008 appropriation won't help either.

The answer from Democratic politicians, progressive pundits and parts of the Netroots has been to berate the base. I dunno, but that sounds like bad politics to me.

Here's the bottom line to me, the Democrats will want to be positioned as the Party that fought to end the war. If folks disapprove of ending the war, they will not vote for Democrats. If they do, they more than likely will. The best way to be politically posiitoned to be the party that wants to end the war is to actually try to end the war. What Meyerson suggests has no chance of ending the war, and everyone knows it.

The Iraq Supplemental battle was deeply scarring for the Democratic base. They won't be fooled again by a Democratic Congress going through the motions.

Time to wake up and deal with the political reality. Scolding a disaffected base is not a smart political move.

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    Thanks for bringing your visit up here (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by andgarden on Wed May 30, 2007 at 10:20:10 AM EST
    I have absolutely no confidence in our leadership now.

    My congressperson the fool (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Dadler on Wed May 30, 2007 at 04:31:46 PM EST
    Below is the response I just received from my congressperson, Susan Davis, after I contacted her with my disappointment and disgust with her vote to capitulate.  It is a litany of right-wing talking points with one doozy of an inanity (and I hope merely a typo):

    Thank you for contacting me regarding the most recent vote on the FY 2007 Emergency Supplemental.  It was good to hear from you, and I'd like to address your concerns.

    As someone who voted against going to war in 2002, supported a timeline for bringing home the troops, and continuously fought hard to change the course of the war in the House Armed Service Committee, there is no doubt in my mind that we must end this war.  The reality is opposing this bill would not have achieved that goal.

    I have consistently supported supplemental spending measures for Iraq because of the importance to our troops in the field.  I understand that many of my constituents are disappointed in my vote.  However, cutting off war funding today will not only impact the troops in the field, many of whom are from San Diego, but will also impact military families at home as President Bush would take funding from other sources to fund his war.  I cannot in good conscience put our all-volunteer force in that position.  

    I would not have voted for this measure if I thought it meant the war would end soon.  Rest assured, I will continue to make Iraq a top priority and will keep your thoughts in mind as Congress continues to debate this pivotal issue.  I look forward to supporting measures that will end the war and will not put our troops at risk.

    Again, thank you for your comments.  As your representative, I truly value your thoughts and ideas.  Please sign up for my E-Newsletter on my website, www.house.gov/susandavis, if you would like to receive updates about what is happening in Congress.

    With warm regards,

    Susan A. Davis
    Member of Congress

    Now, try to make sense of the sentence that began her fourth paragraph:

    I would not have voted for this measure if I thought it meant the war would end soon.

    She voted for it because she knew it would NOT end the war soon.  Precisely what we've been saying.  She voted to continue the status quo.  She oughtta wear a sign that says "I am a f*cking idiot, as is my party, and hopefully my constituents too."

    That's pretty blatant, isn't it? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Edger on Wed May 30, 2007 at 04:39:45 PM EST
    Unfortunately many others will probably take it at face value without questioning it... sad.

    Is part of the (none / 0) (#23)
    by Edger on Wed May 30, 2007 at 05:02:33 PM EST
    problem that she and the others in Congress don't even know they are spreading disinfo? Is she just repeating what she is told and assuming it's true because it comes from the Democratic leadership without the time or the inclination to dig? Do the people giving it to her even know?

    You do realize, I hope, (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Edger on Wed May 30, 2007 at 06:07:28 PM EST
    that you have just made it clear that you support the ongoing occupation of Iraq, an occupation that has killed nearly a million people, mostly children and women, as well as the republican/neocon goals of preemptive war, hegemony and imperialism, fantasies of world domination, and the continuance of a murderous foreign policy that is the root of cause the very problems we deal with now.

    And all so you can have cheap gas?

    You're as much of a democrat as ppj is a social liberal.

    Your statement "I don't like war but I'm not ignorant either. " is probably the most oxymoronic statement I've ever seen made at Talkleft. Even the most rabid warmongers that comment here don't go as far as you blatantly have.

    We finally got talex to admit it eh... (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by kdog on Thu May 31, 2007 at 11:03:44 AM EST
    the Democratic party supports occupation and empire.  And the reason is cheap gas.

    I can only speak for me, but I'll pay what I have to pay for gas and heat for the honor to live in a country that does not occupy foreign lands.


    Me too. (none / 0) (#27)
    by Edger on Thu May 31, 2007 at 11:11:21 AM EST
    I owning cars 12 years ago anyway. Only rent them when I want to take a trip on a weekend or something.

    erm... "quit owning" (none / 0) (#28)
    by Edger on Thu May 31, 2007 at 11:11:39 AM EST
    I suspect there a lot of people (none / 0) (#29)
    by Edger on Thu May 31, 2007 at 11:15:01 AM EST
    who were were former repug members and/or Bush supporters, who seeing the writing on the wall have started 'claiming' to be democrats, to move the democrat party as far to the right as possible to retain power. IOW, they don't move to the democratic party because of a change in their values, but to change the party values.

    Strong Support??? (none / 0) (#3)
    by talex on Wed May 30, 2007 at 11:28:38 AM EST
    And many of us advocate an approach that requires strong Democrat support only, not waiting for phantom GOP support.

    And what "strong Democrat support" do you speak of? I thought your approach only needed a bill to not be sent up at all. That requires no votes to do.

    Are you know saying that the Dems as a group should vote on whether to defund of not?

    Dem leaders fear weakness of Dem members on war (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by janinsanfran on Wed May 30, 2007 at 11:38:12 AM EST
    The leadership fears that enough Dems would join the Republicans to force a Republican bill to the floor (and pass it) and they'd be shown up as paper tigers. So they'd rather be called a paper tigers by us.

    That's the most charitable reading -- makes the assumption that at least some of the Dem leadership (Pelosi) actually want to end the war. Some others probably just want to pacify the raving masses.


    I Can See Part (none / 0) (#6)
    by talex on Wed May 30, 2007 at 11:52:53 AM EST
    of what you said. For instance Blue Dogs may not support defunding.

    But what you are not saying is what kind of bipartisan bill? What would it say?

    And secondly as far as I understand it Pelosi has the power to just not bring a bill to the floor for a vote. If that remains the case then your argument means nothing.


    You still don't get it (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Dadler on Wed May 30, 2007 at 11:41:29 AM EST

    Defunding requires NO PASSAGE of anything.  It requires simply enough democratic support to NOT FUND BEYOND A CERTAIN DATE.  And the imagination to fight those "lying political smears" that will follow, the smears Myerson seems to think he just discovered as the problem -- when many of us have known it for eons.

    The number of Dems who claim to want to end the war is sufficient, if they actually ACT and BEHAVE as if they want to.  But they don't.  They act and behave as if they don't have the moral spine to stand up and do the right thing now, to suffer the slings and arrows.  They are cowards as it stands.  With family in this war, I am offended, infuriated, and at my wit's end.  This is not a farm funding debate, this is a debate about people being murdered and destroyed by the scores every day.  If that's not worth some out-of-the-box effort and risk-taking, then what the hell is?



    Why? (none / 0) (#8)
    by talex on Wed May 30, 2007 at 12:24:23 PM EST
    Defunding requires NO PASSAGE of anything.  It requires simply enough democratic support to NOT FUND BEYOND A CERTAIN DATE.

    Why the need of support? Can't Pelosi just decide on her own if there is no passage of anything required?


    She can. (none / 0) (#11)
    by Edger on Wed May 30, 2007 at 01:23:52 PM EST
    But to do so she has to place higher value on "doing the right thing" than on playing it safe (i.e. worrying about her own political future) to keep the support of the rest of the democrats who are placing higher value on what they perceive as playing it safe that they are on doing the right thing.

    They are all miscalculating badly, IMO.

    In this case doing the right thing will ensure their political futures. Not doing the right thing will likely ensure their political demise, and hand everything back to the repugs next year. They seem unable to see that.


    But you knew this. (none / 0) (#12)
    by Edger on Wed May 30, 2007 at 01:24:30 PM EST
    In other words, (none / 0) (#13)
    by Edger on Wed May 30, 2007 at 01:30:04 PM EST
    and in simple terms, she has to have and display enough integrity to lead, not follow.

    asdf (none / 0) (#7)
    by talex on Wed May 30, 2007 at 12:22:09 PM EST
    Scolding a disaffected base is not a smart political move.

    One does not have to scold them to chase them away. They run when they don't get their way.

    A poll at dkos this morning shows that almost half no longer support the Party. Before the last bill almost everyone supported the Party. So that shows that based on not getting their way on the last bill almost half have rejected the Party.

    Now common sense says that if you had a friend that who turned his back on you in the most important of times simply because they didn't get their way - would you trust your future to that friend? No.

    And would you let that friend know that you didn't appreciate his behavior? Yeah.

    "Getting their way"... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by kdog on Wed May 30, 2007 at 01:43:45 PM EST
    I don't think it's about "getting your way", I don't get my way on lots of issues, I'm used to it.  I'm sure its the same for party members.

    It's when the Democratic Party endorses occupation that the base (seemingly)leaves in droves, and rightly so.  This is no minor issue the Democratic base didn't "get their way" on...its a freakin' occupation of foreign lands for christs sake! iow, a biggie, a dealbreaker.


    I Just Love (none / 0) (#17)
    by talex on Wed May 30, 2007 at 02:17:27 PM EST
    when you guys say the Dems are endorsing the war. They aren't and have been very clear in saying so. They have July and September targeted to continue the fight. But many ignore that fact.

    What many people do not understand is that most battles are fought in stages. It has always been that way in political battles. But I guess either some do not know that or they chose to ignore it.


    Wanna bet? (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by kdog on Wed May 30, 2007 at 03:49:42 PM EST
    The Democrats may be for a scaled-down occupation, but an occupation all the same.

    If we're both still here in 2012, I guarantee there will be troops on the ground in Iraq.  2012 and beyond...


    Reid-Feingold wouldn't/won't work either (none / 0) (#9)
    by fairleft on Wed May 30, 2007 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    That being the case, those who are against funding should form a big minority with clear positions and then speak loudly against funding, even when Bush decides to play chicken with the troops. We all know Bush will win those 'chicken' battles because many or most Dems will capitulate at those moments (regardless whether they've signed onto Reid-Feingold).

    True antiwarriors will not and would not: articulating the "just vote 'no'" position will make themselves stand out and therefore will help organize the 2008 election season as about the 'real' antiwarriors and the fakes.

    The way the confrontation has been muddled and mismanaged recently, I'm pretty sure few in the public could identify today who has had the real antiwar position and who has not.

    The Not Funding Framework (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed May 30, 2007 at 01:14:48 PM EST
    has the best chance to work because it requires no Republicans and not all Dems.

    You argue for, well, I have no idea what it is you are arguing for frankly.


    voting 'no' on funding n/t (none / 0) (#15)
    by fairleft on Wed May 30, 2007 at 01:53:04 PM EST
    voting no now, on funding for the war now, (none / 0) (#16)
    by fairleft on Wed May 30, 2007 at 01:57:40 PM EST
    and advancing/advocating that position till it perhaps becomes a majority, or at least distinguishes the authentically antiwar from the inauthentic or terminable whimpy.

    There Is a Faction (none / 0) (#19)
    by talex on Wed May 30, 2007 at 02:24:58 PM EST
    that is in favor of voting no already. But they understand that the Party must stand united as much as possible.

    Yeah but (none / 0) (#18)
    by talex on Wed May 30, 2007 at 02:23:21 PM EST
    has the best chance to work because it requires no Republicans and not all Dems.

    Yeah but with your proposal you start out with far fewer Dems in both chambers that the first or second bill had.

    Now saying less Dem support equates to having a better chance of working is ridiculous.