Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Democrats Capitulation

Opinion among left-wing blogs of the Democrat's Iraq Bill has been almost uniformely negative. Here's a representative example, from Oliver Willis, in a post titled "The Democatic Capitulation Act of 2007":

...I don't get the Democrats. I just don't get them. They've added almost a whole Friedman (until September) and what do they think is gonna happen then? The right will claim the surge is working even though it isn't, they'll request six more string-free months, and more Americans die for no damn reason.

There are variations on this theme of course. Here's Big Tent Democrat at Talk Left, who uses the opportunity to attack "progressives" and the Netroots and insists that the strategy of "compromise" (as in something other than total de-funding of the war) has failed:

For all the "pragmatists" at Move On, and in the Netroots, you must NOW recognize the total miscalculation you made in March. And you must learn from your mistake. Forget benchmarks, authorizations and timelines.

And then there's a completely opposition reaction: a strange declaration of victory by Publius at Obsidian Wings:

For similar reasons, Bush and the GOP should think twice before celebrating their victory. Very often, people lose sight of the substance of a debate because they get too caught up in the horse race. Sure, in some sense, Bush “won,” but what exactly did he win? He successfully obtained blanket authority for endless, escalating war – the one issue that cost the GOP Congress and will likely cost them more in 2008.

And finally, this reaction from the big dogs over at DailyKos:

In the past month, we’ve seen a majority of House Democrats and a smaller majority of Senate Democrats favor three pieces of legislation that - while far from as strong as they should have been – would have put the onus on Mister Bush for continuing the occupation. Good for them. If only there were more like them.

If the latest legislation is as it appears to be, a toothless, gutless, spineless bill that gives Mister Bush his blank check, Democrats who vote for it are essentially buying the occupation.

Big Tent, as you can imagine from someone who supports nothing less than total de-funding by a set date, is gnashing his teeth and rending his hair over at TalkLeft (just read a few posts from today and yesterday and you'll see what I mean.) Around the turn of the year I found myself largely aligned with him and those who were pushing for more definitive action on Iraq, but I left that camp when it became clear that BTD didn't even see the political feasibility and opportunity in progressively tougher and tougher bills being sent to President Bush. Since then I've come to favor legislation with timelines and benchmarks, so long as they were binding and non-waivable by the President, as it became clear to me that Congress would have to gradually work towards de-funding. But like BTD, Willis and others, I can't help but want to pull my hair out at this latest measure, which bizarrely isn't even supported by Speaker Pelosi.

As for Publius' reaction...his is a lone voice in the wilderness. And frankly, his is a position I cannot accept. Publius believes that Democrats have no chance of ending the war before they can obtain a greater majority in both chambers of Congress, a proposition I find simply to be unbelievable. No majority party, supported with polls that show that an ever-increasing majority of Americans want our troops out, should be content with letting President Bush stumble through the horror show of Iraq in the hopes that this will result in more votes for Democrats in November of next year. Publius' intentions are good, but to me it is absurd to let this war drag on, and let more American soldiers and contractors die, while simply building up political capital for 2008. As I argued before and argue again now, that presumes that the American people would turn out to vote for a party that's content to demonstrate it's weakness and let a war drag on, a proposition I can't accept.

So like Willis, I can only say I don't get it either. Bush's poll numbers continue to drop. More Americans continue to support a change of course or total withdrawal from Iraq. It becomes clearer each day that the surge isn't working, and there's no Plan B for when it fails. We are staring at an abyss in Iraq, and the Democrats seem content to let America jump headlong into it so long as Bush and the GOP get to the bottom slightly before the Democrats do. This isn't leadership. Capitulation won't end this war, and it won't get more Democrats elected in 2008. As Meteor Blades at DailyKos says it's gutless, it's spineless and it's a recipe for failure, and apparently the Democrats need to be told that in much stronger terms, as so far they appear to not be getting the message.

UPDATE: Numbers like these make capitulation to Bush on the war simply inexcusable:

Six in 10 Americans surveyed say the United States should have stayed out of Iraq, and more than three in four say that things are going badly there — including nearly half who say things are going very badly, the poll found.

Still, the majority of Americans support continuing to finance the war, as long as the Iraqi government meets specific goals.

Yet somehow, the Democrats couldn't even pull that off.


adam said...

Clearly they must have been so afraid of being accused of "cutting off funds for troops in the field" they acquiesced. That's the only explanation for such a weak "compromise." Even from just a political stand point, they should have at least sent him the bill with Levin's proposed waivable timelines, so when he vetoed it, Bush would seem even more unreasonable.

adam said...

Good special comment from Keith Olbermann: