The Politics of Iraq

DemfromCt wrote a two-part post title the "Politics of Iraq", here and here that I think completely misreads the situation. Dem writes:

Toothless legislation attracts votes, but doesn't get the job done. Legislation with teeth doesn't attract a consensus or a working majority (at this time) because there isn't one in Congress. . . . The urgency to adjust the status quo outweighs the loyalty to the base, and far outweighs loyalty to an unpopular President, that GOP congress critters feel. The country thinks Congress is dithering. Explaining it away as "I have to keep my shrinking Republican base happy, even though they are unrealistic about the war because Fox News, Joe Lieberman and I don't tell the truth about what's happening there" is not going to fly. . . . Sure, the votes aren't there yet, but everyone in Washington in this kabuki show knows that's coming. . . . It's the GOP's war, and it's Bush's war. If they don't face up to that reality, and at least start preparing their base for the inevitable, they run the risk that 2008 will turn out to be 2006 on steroids. . . .

This, it seems to me, misses entirely the dynamic that is developing. It is the Democratic Congress whose approvals are falling, as clammyc notes. The GOP is much where they were in 2006. The Dems have dropped significantly from where they were. And the danger is of Dems offering safe harbor to those Republicans vulnerable on Iraq. More.

clammy writes:

Now, it is painfully obvious that anything that would pass Congress would need a major bipartisan approval in order to override a Bush veto. But the story that is emerging is that the Democrats can’t get their act together on an Iraq withdrawal plan, and some "bold respected GOP Senators are calling for a new way in Iraq" or "Republicans look for change of course in Iraq" or "Congressional republicans won’t support continued Iraq plan".

What is even worse here is that there has been no meaningful legislation proposed or even any meaningful alternative that republicans are letting come to the floor for a vote, when it comes to our troops.

Yet, it isn’t the Democrats who are getting any credit for trying to change the debate and push a plan forward. The blocking of meaningful amendments by republicans in Congress isn’t getting any notice. The continued "same as it ever was" action by the Congressional republicans is getting buried. Fingers are being pointed at Congress in general, and when specific, more so at the Democrats.

As ludicrous as it sounds, it is the Democrats who are getting the blame for not doing enough to get our troops out of Iraq, even though they have only had a few months and fewer opportunities to do so. And it is the republicans who are getting the small bit of glory for pressuring Bush to change course.

Personally, as I have stated, I think the best POLITICAL, not just policy, course for Dems on Iraq is to provoke a binary showdown on the issue through the use of the Spending Power. I think the showdown can come next Spring if Dems announce their intentions now. SO far the Dem leadership in Congress does not agree with me.

But there are other options for how to play it politically. The problem clammy identifies can be remedied by the use of a device Harry Reid employed on the Webb and Graham amendments last week -- offer the Republicans equitable treatment for the Warner-Lugar Amendment, the same as that given the Reid-Levin binding timelines Amendment.

Either both face a cloture vote, or neither. Either both come to the floor for an up or down vote, or neither.

It may well be that the Warner-Lugar Amendment passes with the GOP caucus joined by a few Dems while the Reid-Levin Amendment gets voted down. I doubt it very much frankly. But if that happens, the GOP plan is what will be adopted by the Senate. But it will be the GOP plan, not the Dem plan. This is important because the Lugar-Warner Amendment is toothless. And will be exposed as such soon enough.

If instead the GOP filibusters the Democratic amendment then the same treatment should be given the GOP alternative.

Let up or down votes become the Dem mantra on this. Make the GOP create their own safe harbors. If there are enough Dem Senators willing to vote with the Republicans, then it will be on those individual Senators to explain themselves, it will not be the Dem position. And of course, amendments from Democratic senators that do not reflect the Dem leadership position would be subject to all the procedural hurdles of any other amendment -- if some can attract Republican support, then they become Republican bills, even if the sponsorship carries names like Salazar, Ben Nelson or Mary Landrieu. That's their problem, not that of the Democratic caucus.

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    Signs of life breaking through (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 04:11:38 PM EST
    the impeachment chatter.

    FYI:  You misspelled Mary Landrieu's name ;-).

    Christ, I hope so. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Edger on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 04:23:31 PM EST
    Yes, the Dems need to do (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Maryb2004 on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 04:33:08 PM EST
    a better job not only working around the Republican obstructionism but getting the MSM to recognize the obstructionism.  The Dems need to call them on it every time.  And make them pay the price.  I'm all for up or down votes being the mantra.

    I enjoyed George Miller's speech in the House floor last week on the motion to recommit a/k/a the motion to kill the College Cost Reduction Act, which failed thank goodness.  I don't know if it got any play in the MSM but we need more Dems getting up and denouncing the obstructionist tactics.

    I am very pleased with how Reid (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 04:59:28 PM EST
    applied the remedy to the Webb and Graham amendments.  If he can tenaciously keep that up great.  It is very hard spending all day watching the debates on the House floor and then seeing how much the MSM covers of it let alone how much of the whole story they even come close to getting right, but if the Dems are just as tenacious as they are saying they are going to be about these debates they will break clear of the MSM B.S.  If these are the actions they want to take I'm okay with it along is they follow it all up with unbreakable tenacity sticking it to the Republicans with the standard operating procedures every single day until the excrement noticeably "sticks" to the rightful owners and no more subterfuge deniability to be found.  If the Dems get fatigued though they are going to have to go for the showdown.  They can do both as well and show off their endurance skills and Nascar fans might have to start considering rooting for and voting for the badass Democratic Party too ;)

    Who decided impeachment or not was the game? (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Ellie on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 06:54:14 PM EST
    NB: My computer crashed about an hour ago while I was multi-tasking BBQing and what turned into a windy post. I didn't want to loose what I wrote) so pardon any babble not related to any pre-post weirdness which I'll cheerfully admit to. Here goes part one. (Fingers crossed)

    Which idiot limited the discussion to impeachment  or not? Who says that's was the the only game in town and where does the line form to stooge slap this individual to the cybercity limits and back?

    The broader discussion shouldn't be a wonky one, but in essence and form that we need to hold this corrupt administration to account for their lies and criminality.

    Maybe short sighted panicky Dem wonks can't seem to view anything that's going on as existing outside their pathetic weenie power struggles  in the very tiny Kingdom Of Wanky Wonka. I want my government back, my franchise back, my sanity back and I want to eat this GD tofu burger without choking on the newscast I just saw. At the very least, if I'm going to live with this level of piss offedness and certain knowledge that the planet's on the skids, I want a diet of Fricken Meat and WAY more Crap That's Bad for me.

    If Dems -- including the controlling Chicken Wing of the party -- wanted a media- and public- friendly discussion that didn't rest on the I-word, they should demand instead Accountability. It not only makes running dems and the party overall look like grownups, but it forces the braintrust to start acting that way too. I've run out of patience for having the choice of an infantile ruling party and an adolescent one that wants to assume control and which "leaders" throw fits when engaged by anyone who criticizes them even when they blunder horribly.

    On Accountability Before There's Even An Impeachment Debate, suggested serving: "We can't know where we are on (Taboo I-word) without a full accounting from President Bush and this administration on Iraq."

    This would also cover his cover, meaning not just the CYA douchebaggery from the Exec miscreants but the circled wagons and enablers who weren't shy about riding his coattails then but are wiping the crud off themselves and, ideally, half onto "clean" opponents in upcoming contests with the "everybody's dirty" BS that's assumed with a dirty game where the cheaters rigged every aspect of the game.

    And just to take the blinkers off the doofuses huddled in the Dem brain trust, this isn't just batting around abstract BS like framing the precious Dem Hooey or keeping grimy base paws off the Dry Powder, which continues to be used so sparingly I can only assume some Dems mean to employ it only when the partei rules the world.

    (I consider myself locked out of party matters, but I do wish the Silly Boys Club up top would quit imperiously treating messages from the rabble as interloping on important party business.)

    My concern goes beyond giving a hoot about the Dems, which are currently so low on my respect scale, my view is that if I have a party to support same time next year, I will. Otherwise good night and good luck.

    As and someone whose rights have been (ab)used by both parties as barter, I want to know WTF has happened both with my franchise and the taxes that allegedly fund it in action. I care way more about that than who's shaking it harder, GOP or Dem leadership.

    But here's why Congress and the pre- and post-empowered Dems keep getting turfed back to First-Square Go (as in, do not cross) while the Bush Gang and the cronies on its coattails continue to proceed merrily along doing WTF they wanted all along, regardless of polls, public discontent or the now risible absence of an effective opposition. It's all a matter of continuing to scrub the scoreboard of incremental gains/losses, so that the Dems keep going back to zero, either by getting thugged there or voluntarily, in milquetoasty fashion, by fear of merely being called stupid names by the bullies and their media trumpets.

    From Glenn Greenwald today (Fred Hiatt defends the administration's mild, restrained secrecy):

    For at least the fifth time in the past year, the Justice Department yesterday invoked the once rarely cited state secrets privilege to argue that a lawsuit alleging government wrongdoing should be dismissed without an airing [..cf..]

    Unlike prior administrations which used the privilege to prevent the disclosure of specific documents, the Bush administration has used it as the equivalent of a nuclear weapon to argue that one case after the next alleging that they broke the law must be dismissed lest national secrets be jeoparadized. Thus, with regard to every major issue of legal and political controversy [...] the administration has invoked this privilege to block any judicial scrutiny of the legality of its behavior, thereby placing itself, by definition, beyond the rule of law. (Fred Hiatt defends the administration's mild, restrained secrecy by Glenn Greenwald, Salon 07/15/2007)


    Sorry for wasting bandwidth plus an edit request (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Ellie on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 07:10:45 PM EST
    My second post has a duplicate paste so if the site moderators can do so, please clip out the redundancy.

    Otherwise, let this notyfy to anyone reading this discussion that the post directly above has double the no-fun.

    triangulating in '96 = white house AND nada (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by seabos84 on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 07:43:43 PM EST
    clinton's budget surplus was ruined by the bushco fascists in may 2001,

    with the dems lying on their backs like a whipped dog.

    too much of demfromct 'strategy', and some of these other 'strategies',

    are just more shaving / hemming / hawing / ducking / dodging

    THAT is what people are sick of!!

    I just read that there are about 149 million americans working -

    how many tens of millions would be fired on wednesday for screwing up on monday?

    80 million?  120 million?

    guess how many make less than the congresscritters of DC who can't do anything but hem and haw?

    WTF, this ain't rocket science

    NO leadership = NO support. PERIOD.


    Dems need to start (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Alien Abductee on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 08:37:54 PM EST
    bringing forward legislation they want to see passed and forcing the Republicans to actually filibuster (via Hullabaloo). Scr*w the shows of "bipartisanship" and the niceties of Senate etiquette. Apparently there's to be neither impeachment nor real oversight of a stonewalling Executive, and nothing beyond faux attempts to use the actual power of the Congress to defund what it wants to stop. Is it too much to ask that Dems make some effort to appear to be trying at all? How hard could forcing the Republicans to actually carry through with filibusters even be for them to do?

    In the end you have to start thinking that the people get the representation they deserve. What else can all this come down to?

    This is a president and an administration that sent the country to war on lies, that used torture, that suspended habeas corpus, that kidnaps people off the streets and holds them incommunicado in dungeons, that is like a cancer politicizing the entire machinery of government to perpetuate its own power, that has overseen the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top 1%, that spies on whoever it likes without regard for the law...and STILL only 46% are in favor of impeachment? And STILL Dems can't round up enough votes to put any brakes on? And they sign on 97-0 to a legal rationale for attacking Iran? And CNN has man-in-the-street interviews on withdrawal from Iraq that show people don't understand the situation, or don't care, don't understand their own form of government, or are ready to turn over their democracy to a strongman who will protect them, and on top of that blame the Democrats for "not supporting the troops and the president"!

    I'm so furious and disgusted I have trouble even finding words to express myself on it lately.

    I hope you are proud of yourself (none / 0) (#17)
    by john horse on Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 05:29:53 PM EST
    Looks like you and BTD are going to get your wish.  Reid has finally seen the light and is going to force the GOP to filibuster on Iraq.  

    It's a step (none / 0) (#18)
    by Alien Abductee on Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 08:15:38 PM EST
    Good for Reid. Maybe the surge of pro-impeachment energy is helping buck them up. Video here.

    Sing it, sis or bro! (in Funk or Metal, you pick.) (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Ellie on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 08:57:01 PM EST
    I also reject this fake timeline of '08 (actually Jan/08.

    It presumes -- prematurely and unfortunately, imo -- Dems taking over an Imperial Emperor/Presidency, which unilateral expanded power is preserved by congressional inaction today.

    I don't want to live under a super-empowered Mega-Prez and two weakened other branches. I don't care if it's an idiot iron-fisted one like we have now or a "better" Queen Hillary or Young King Obama one.

    I want constitutional democracy back.

    not sure if this is a good thing (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Stewieeeee on Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 12:30:43 AM EST
    but i agreed with all of that.

    I think Martha and I would say (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 07:32:39 AM EST
    that It's a Good Thing ;)

    DemfromCt (1.00 / 1) (#10)
    by talex on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 08:55:19 PM EST
    is right on the money as to the dynamic going on. And of course I agree with him. The dynamic is not the Dems poll ratings as Armando is trying to say. And I see no sign whatsoever that the Dems are offering the Repubs safe harbor. Reid has expressed his feelings about the Warner-Lugar amendment and he doesn't like it.

    As for giving both Warner-Lugar and Reed-Levin both and up and down vote - sure - if...

    Durbin counts the votes and tells Reid that Warner-Lugar would fail to pass as he did with the Graham amendment. If it is even close to passing with no guarantee that it won't then of course he should not let it see the light of day.

    To let it pass would be the most foolish thing the Dems could do and I am shocked that giving it that chance is being endorsed in this diary. If it passes then kiss off September or any time after. Bush would be in full control with an amendment to back him up. Again what is Armando thinking to even consider letting this pass. Some consolation that the Dems voting for it would have to explain themselves. Who would have to explain himself is Reid for letting it go to a vote at all.

    Personally, as I have stated, I think the best POLITICAL, not just policy, course for Dems on Iraq is to provoke a binary showdown on the issue through the use of the Spending Power. I think the showdown can come next Spring if Dems announce their intentions now.

    Oh really! Announce it now? That's just great. So come September when a new funding bill is due Bush will know that is the last money he will see? Sure. Why not just hand him what he really wants which is long term funding because that is what the September debate will be all about. Forget trying to get Repubs to join us in a bill to end the war. That won't even be on anyones lips. It would be all about long term funding to make sure the threat posed by the Dems is dead. The Repubs who do not want to vote with us and who would never vote with us will join Bush to change the September meme in a NY second.

    Hell even a good percentage the Repubs who will join us would retreat to long term funding. And the public would scratch their collective heads and say "It's possible that enough Repubs are going to vote with the Dems to end the war. Why in the hell are the Dems cutting off funding without even trying to get enough Repubs first?!!!" Politically a non-starter. Sorry that pig won't fly.

    What we need to do is hold off the Repubs and send them home for August and let the public skewer and roast them for a month. Then they will be nice and tender when they come back and ready for the carving knife. Nothing was expected to pass this round anyway and the early surprise crossovers have been a gift that the MSM is talking about 24/7. To blow that gift by letting Warner-Lugar come up for a vote if it might pass would be the greatest political blunder of 2007. Warner-Lugar ONLY comes up for a vote if it is GUARANTEED to not pass. Then it makes sense to vote on it to show that leaving the keys to our future in Iraq in Bush's hands is DOA.

    Hell (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Edger on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 09:00:34 PM EST
    It's not even half a Friedman unit till the end of September, right talex?

    How close is your veto proof majority again?

    How many repubs have you personally flipped lately? Hard numbers, or hard percentages, will do just fine talex.


    Gooserock calls them Fodder Units now (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 07:31:23 AM EST
    Drunk on Cash (none / 0) (#13)
    by squeaky on Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 12:26:48 AM EST
    It's good to be king. From the NY Post:

    IRAQ'S ambassador to the United Nations, Hamid al Bayati, likes the high life. Bayati, who's been on the job for just over a year, is said to be living in a $22,000-a-month apartment at Trump World Tower on First Avenue. He's renting while the Iraqi U.N. Mission and official ambassador's residence on East 79th Street undergo a $40 million renovation. Where did the Iraqis get the cash? Newsmax.com reports the U.N. Security Council is paying with funds it once used to finance the now-terminated U.N. Iraq arms inspectors. When asked about the lavish use of the cash, Bayati refused comment. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad shrugged off the Iraqis' lush lifestyle by telling reporters, "$40 million is not a lot of money." According to U.N. documents, the U.S. delegation approved the transfer of the cash from the Security Council to Iraq. All of this comes as the federal Government Accounting Office reported the war in Iraq is costing American taxpayers $12 billion monthly.

    John Aravosis