Iraq: Doing Everything Possible To End It?

Last night in his discussion with Frank Rich about Petraeus and Iraq, Keith Olberman said (starting around the 2:30 mark):

Olbermann: . . . You said the Democrats lack the votes but the [Democratic] leadership does not need a majority to stop funding the war. Why do they do so? . . . Does it not cross your mind that the Democrats could thread the needle if they really wanted to on this. Is it too cynical to suggest that some at least are stalling almost as much as the Administration is because it sometimes seems as if there is at least the the outskirts of an either/or situation here, if they wanted to, with a supreme effort they could stop the war still fund those troops and get them home safely . . . but there are some who would rather have it continue into 2008 and [have] it as a campaign signal point?

Olbermann is alluding to the option of NOT funding the war after a date certain. His reference to an "either/or" situation is exactly right. The choice now is binary for Democrats - NOT funding is the only way Democrats can end the Debacle. And there is the question - will Democrats try to do everything they can to end the Iraq Debacle? Olbermann raises the critical question now. What Bush and the Republicans will do has never been in doubt. More.

In his answers to Olbermann, as I wrote in July, Frank Rich proves yet again that he does not get it:

Rich: I think they do so for political reasons. Given a war that has frequently been fought with poor equipment for the troops, inadequate equipment to this day, armor and everything lese, cutting off the funding could be looked at as holding hostage, these people who are fighting and dying now no matter how hopeless the cause, which I think it is. So I understand it from a political point of view, and even somewhat to a moral point of view, I'm not sure that is the way to go about it. I think the way to go about it is to really pressure Republicans, particularly in the Senate, whomay be seeing their political lives pass before their eyes in the next 18 months and who may have a lot to lose [by] keeping this fiasco going.

Rich still thinks Republicans might end the war as he has now for months. It is not clear that Rich has been following the discussion in Washington. Moreover, his argument about the political and moral imperative the Democrats face here has it exactly backwards. It is true that in his full answer Rich "deplores" Dem cynicism but it seems to me that his own prescription is cynical and, wrong.

As I have argued and now others are realizing, the Democratic inertia, to put it nicely, on Iraq, will destroy the opportunity for a realigning election for Democrats on this issue. The Democratic performance on Iraq reinforces the very issue that has plagued it for years now - the belief that Dems stand for nothing and have no principles.

The Democrats are at a political crossroads. It is Iraq. Now. What will they do?

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    Just don't fund the war its that simple (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by Saul on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 09:31:23 AM EST
    If you don't fund the war then the democrats can  say that the people have spoken and we are doing what the majority want. Which is what the majority want, to stop the war and bring the troops home as expressed in the 06 midterm elections.   The majority of the people don't care what really transpires in Iraq after we leave.   If the democrats are afraid of the philosophy that that they will be looked at as the party that did not give the money to the troops then the way out of that thinking is to say that not funding the war is  saving American lives. Since there will be no more future funds for Iraq then it is up to Bush to use the money he has to safely get our soldier's out of Iraq and if any more troops are killed then it's on Bush's back and it will be his negligence for not getting them out and he and only he will be soley responsible for any more loss of American lives.   Do you think the troops are going to compalint becasue they are on their way out and comming home. Do you think the troops are going to complaing becasue they are not getting another tour in Iraq.   Do you think the parents and friends of these troops are going to complaint because they are coming home.  Do you think any of these people are going to say " Oh no let me stay here just give us more money so we can stay here"    I simply cannot understand why the Democrats are so afraid of losing the election in 08 if they cut the funds for Iraq.   The majority of the people would love the Democrats for doing that.   Also the idea of having to worry that the radicals in Iraq are going to control an oil rich country if we leave well that has already happened when  Sadamm controled Iraq and all the oil in Iraq before we went in.  So what would be so different.  I would just use the military that is leaving Iraq  in a differnt way by keeping Iraq in check but no boots on the ground.  N. Korea has nuclear weapons and we have just seen recently how using diplomacy got them to think on our terms. They are more dangerous than Iraq.  We did not invade N. Korea.   If you can get a country with nuclear weapons to change their mind then why can't you do it with a country that does not have nuclear weapons like Iraq.   You don't need the 60 votes to overturn Bush's veto on the funding bill with a timeline just don't vote at all and that will stop the funds.  End of story.  Never undersood why they call our government a government of the people, by the people and for the people.  Even when the majority of the people want the government to do something they never do

    Even if it were complicated (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 09:33:17 AM EST
    There is no other way.

    I'm highly pessimistic that ... (5.00 / 4) (#10)
    by Meteor Blades on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 11:34:14 AM EST
    ..."defunding" will come to pass. Which doesn't mean I think we should stop arguing for it. But I remain convinced, as I have for six months, that whatever our chances are, they could be enhanced to some unknown degree by calling what we seek to have happen, "fully funding the withdrawal."

    I give it a 4% chance (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 11:43:19 AM EST
    Which is better than a 0% chance.

    The "scared-er" they get the % goes... (none / 0) (#13)
    by Edger on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 11:44:32 AM EST
    errr... the higher the % goes... (none / 0) (#17)
    by Edger on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 12:22:46 PM EST
    During the hearings today, (none / 0) (#19)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 12:28:14 PM EST
    Sen. Boxer stated a majority of Congress is in favor of withdrawing now. She also showed a photo of herself and the Gen.

    How does she define (none / 0) (#20)
    by Edger on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 12:30:22 PM EST
    "in favor of"?

    No details. She was making a statement (none / 0) (#21)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 12:33:54 PM EST
    and sd. she'll take her answers from the Gen. and Amb. in writing.

    showed a photo of herself and the Gen. ? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Edger on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 12:37:49 PM EST
    Pretty defining, imo.

    Her point was to emphasize the rosy (none / 0) (#23)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 12:55:43 PM EST
    prognosis he gave then and the rosy prognosis he is giving again this week.  Pretty effective, I thought.

    Has anyone counted the likely & unknown votes? (none / 0) (#32)
    by robrecht on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 05:12:19 PM EST
    Tongue in cheek or seriously that small a chance?  I know it's not an easy question and lots of different things could happen.  

    I too think the chances are very small and I've asked before if anyone has counted the votes.  Don't know how else to quantify.


    Call out Rich a few more times (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 12:04:16 PM EST
    and he might even bring attention to your strategy again. that would be a good thing.

    YouTube's the ticket. (none / 0) (#33)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 07:12:45 PM EST
    I don't know a politic way to say this (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by Alien Abductee on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 01:04:26 PM EST
    but this is the heart of the problem:

    In 1997, Fortune magazine asked members of Congress and their staffs to list the most powerful lobbies in Washington. AIPAC was ranked second behind the American Association of Retired People, but ahead of the AFL-CIO and the National Rifle Association. A National Journal study in March 2005 reached a similar conclusion, placing AIPAC in second place (tied with AARP) in the Washington `muscle rankings'...

    The US form of government offers activists many ways of influencing the policy process. Interest groups can lobby elected representatives and members of the executive branch, make campaign contributions, vote in elections, try to mould public opinion etc. They enjoy a disproportionate amount of influence when they are committed to an issue to which the bulk of the population is indifferent. Policymakers will tend to accommodate those who care about the issue, even if their numbers are small, confident that the rest of the population will not penalise them for doing so.

    And the White House is using that powerful lobbying machinery, a lobby as powerful as the NRA, to advance its wish to maintain a strong military presence in Iraq for its own political survival in just the same the way it has coopted the machinery of government at all levels in the US for partisan Republican advantage.

    For more on Olmert's and Cheney's remarks to AIPAC, exploiting fears for Israel's security and even continued existence in order to defeat anti-war and defunding efforts in Congress, see here.

    And I DON'T WANT THE REPUBS TO END (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 01:27:39 PM EST
    THE WAR!  They started it, they rubberized it, they don't deserve to end it!  They deserve to eat it! THE DEMS NEED TO END THIS WAR NOW!  I don't care if hometown floats are only made out of toilet paper, it's time for the Dems to ride the hometown float!

    What I'd like to see is, when each (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 01:38:44 PM EST
    senator starts speaking, show not only the name, party, and state, but also the votes on Reid/Feingold and Capitulation and public statements on working with the Republicans in the future.

    and spit in the face of a 4 Star General?? (none / 0) (#1)
    by lilybart on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 09:17:55 AM EST
    The media and some DEMS have made this man an Oracle of truth and good intentions.

    We are fighting the MEDIA. How do we win THAT?

    Huh? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 09:21:04 AM EST
    You meant this for the Move On thread I think.

    No I didn't. (none / 0) (#5)
    by lilybart on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 11:17:23 AM EST
    the media has decided that Patreus needs more time so how do we fight THAT??

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 11:18:41 AM EST
    Last I looked, the Media does not vote in Congress.

    oh really? (none / 0) (#29)
    by lilybart on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 02:19:42 PM EST
    that is the effect

    If we let it be (none / 0) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 02:37:15 PM EST
    At least we have to try.

    Olbermann has seen the situation clearly (none / 0) (#6)
    by Edger on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 11:18:15 AM EST
    all along and has been paralleling your and my thinking on it since before the May supplemental.

    I wonder, does Frank Rich "get it" but does not want to admit that he does because he can't bring himself to admit that like so many others he is secretly one of the some who would rather have it continue into 2008 and [have] it as a campaign signal point?

    His answer to Olbermann skirts and dances around that question as if it's some terrifying but fascinating creature he found that he sort of pokes at almost like he's afraid it will bite him.

    I dunno (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 11:19:39 AM EST
    But wehen Rich says "pressurng Republicans" should be the strategy it makes me think of Move On.

    It makes me think of (ugh) (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Edger on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 11:28:10 AM EST
    the talex's of the world: "Keep up the pressure. Veto proof majority materializing any day now. I can hear them flipping in my dreams..."

    One and the same (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 11:42:45 AM EST
    Fund a Withdrawal (none / 0) (#14)
    by cmpnwtr on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 11:56:01 AM EST
    Kos has suggested the following:
    Keep passing a bill funding a withdrawal at a specified timeline. The Congress is funding the troops and bringing them home. Period...

    Will they do it? No.. they seem to love getting kicked around, slapped around. It's a kind of victim/loser's Stockholm Syndrome, despite being a majority, despite having a majority of the American people behind them.

    Somebody clue in Randi Rhodes (none / 0) (#16)
    by chemoelectric on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 12:08:07 PM EST
    For an Air America Radio fan it is getting difficult to listen to Randi Rhodes, who not only has similar opinion to Frank Rich, but yells at you and calls you stupid if you disagree.

    In Randi Rhodes's case I think it is that she has the attitude of a fear Democrat and tries to assuage her fear by holding up both Democrats and Yankee 'Republicans' as heroes who will save the day (and Colin Powell as a hero who had to be blackmailed somehow to engage in his dishonorable behavior). I think it important to help people not depend on belief in heroes, and to act in the face of fear, including fear that the 'Republicans' will win elections on account of what we do (which they will not, but you have to embrace and stand up to the fear to realize this).

    Agreed (none / 0) (#18)
    by notinKansas on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 12:24:52 PM EST
    Some of her initial positions have frequently been curious - impeachment is a waste of time, impose the draft to end the war, we can only move the country away from right-wing policies in little baby-steps.  She has allowed her positions on issues to evolve, however.  But given how few progressive voices there are in this country, it is disconcerting to listen to some of the things she says prior to fine-tuning those positions.

    Surprising Air America is not broadcasting (none / 0) (#26)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 01:31:31 PM EST
    the hearings where the Ambassador and General are testifying before Congressional committees.  

    Obama selling hope to Clinton tomorrow? (none / 0) (#28)
    by robrecht on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 01:44:52 PM EST
    The other day Barack Obama made a brief statement about ending the war now.  Everyone here is keenly aware of how it lacked a real legislative agenda.  We can hope or at least look for more details tomorrow:

    "Tomorrow, Barack Obama is set to deliver what his campaign is calling a major address on the war, what it has cost the US, and his plan to end it. Obama, according to campaign aides, will outline new policy proposals on withdrawing troops, diplomacy in the region, and prescriptions for dealing with Iraq's humanitarian crisis. Obama will deliver his address in Clinton, Iowa tomorrow afternoon, part of a two-day swing through the eastern part of the state." Link

    Most sobering moment on Petraeus herings. (none / 0) (#31)
    by Saul on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 04:37:38 PM EST
    Warner ask Petraeus if he continues doing what he is doing in Iraq is this making American safer.
    Petreaus said "I don't know if it is". Boy what bummer.  This speaks volumes of whether we should be there or not and as far as I am concern why should we spend one more American life or one more dollar based on that answer.