This is the type of thinking that will lead to poor Democratic results in 2008:
All the Democratic sorrow and Republican gloating of the past week came from the heart. With the passage of the Iraq funding bill, Democrats will be forced to watch a thousand more soldiers die, while Republicans can enjoy many more months of pretending they're good at fighting terrorists. But the political impact of the bill is exactly the opposite of what the partisans believe. The Republican Party just signed away its best chance to avoid catastrophe in 2008. As in 2006, Republicans will be left with total ownership of the Iraq War, and in voters' eyes, total responsibility for disaster. . .
In 2006, Democrats won because there was a belief that they could do something about Iraq. In 2008, if nothing else happens, that belief willbe shattered. Why indeed would non-Dems (or purity troll progressives to use the pejorative term for folks who distrust the triangulating Dems) vote for Dems on Iraq when they proved so spineless? This is just the type of thinking that could blow 2008 for the Democrats.
The writer of that post seems to have no idea what people think of Democrats. Let me remind him:
[T]his is the essential Democratic problem, they are viewed as standing for nothing. For having no principles. As Ruy Texeira and John Halpin put For having no principles. As Ruy Texeira and John Halpin put it:The thesis of this report is straightforward. Progressives need to fight for what they believe in -- and put the common good at the center of a new progressive vision -- as an essential strategy for political growth and majority building. This is no longer a wishful sentiment by out-of-power activists, but a political and electoral imperative for all concerned progressives. . . . [T]he underlying problem driving progressives' on-going woes nationally [is] a majority of Americans do not believe progressives or Democrats stand for anything.
Let's repeat an exercise I did in February:
There was a time, circa 2005 and 2006, when I argued against Dem plans for Iraq:With due respect to everybody that wants to play President, Bush is the President and we should concentrate on ripping him to shreds for the Iraq Debacle, including his current failures. Does Warner believe in deadlines or timetables? Clark for training or redployment? Who cares? None of it matters until Dems get some power.Democrats are trying so hard to avoid allowing Republicans to label their criticism as merely partisan that they won't even acknowledge the obvious. Instead, they are looking for any opportunity to portray their opposition to the President's policies as part of the nation's dissatisfaction with the administration's Iraq policy.
While that's understandable - one of the few ways Democrats could screw up during the next year and a half would be to appear to be basing their opposition on possible political gain and a petty desire to punish Bush politically - there is no indication that Democrats have been too aggressive in criticizing the President or his policies so far.In fact, a partisan division over the war probably would help Democrats by further damaging the Republicans between now and next year's Presidential election. After all, if it isn't merely President Bush, but also his entire party, that supports the war and ignores public opinion, Democrats would seem to benefit.
This is right and wrong. Certainly pinning Bush on the GOP helps the Democrats, but political grandstanding alone will not cut it for the Dems now. They control the Congress. They can end the Iraq Debacle. And if they do not, the GOP will try and neuter them on Iraq by saying they did not - Dems were all partisan bluster and no action. And the GOP would be right.
As Greg Sargent points out, Dems hold a 20 point polling edge on Bush on Iraq, 54-34. But if Dems do not do anything about ending the Iraq Debacle, then why SHOULD the American People trust Democrats on Iraq?
And now we come to some practical realities - the Congress can only end the Iraq Debacle by NOT FUNDING IT. It may scare some people to say those words - I think it is an unfounded fear as I have explained many times. But let me give them a political scenario that is scarier -- come 2008 -- when faced with the question "What did a Democratic Congress do to end the Iraq Debacle?", when the answer is nothing, what do you think the voters are going to say?
Spineless Dems ALWAYS lose. Always.
Just yesterday, I wrote:
If the not funding option is "abandoning the troops" is an immutable belief of the American People, and I have seen NOTHING that proves this point (the only polling on the matter is simply grossly inaccurate in describing the not funding option), then why go down this road in the first place knowing Capitulation would be at the end of the road? Alter and just about everyone else in Democratic circles was thrilled with the original House Iraq Supplemental strategy. If they all knew this would be the inevitable end, why were they so happy? This did nothing good for Democrats at all. Given the central image problem Democrats have, that they are spineless (and it is not just the progressive base that thinks this), how could this strategy have been thought to make any sense? It NEVER made sense. Neither politically nor substantively.
Which brings me to my second point; Alter writes:The second problem is that even if Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wanted to adopt the Chinese-water-torture approach, they don't have the votes for it in the Senate. Not gonna happen now. Pass-veto, pass-veto sounds good for Edwards on the stump but, sadly, bears no relation to reality on the ground in Washington. And the one thing we've learned from Bush's fiasco in Iraq is that we have to deal with the world as it is, not as we would like it to be.
If Democrats do not have the votes to overcome Bush's veto or even pass a bill, then why in God's name would they pursue a strategy that is dependent on garnering enough votes to override a Bush veto? I have written ad nauseum that the strategy to follow, and it may not work, requires pursuit of tactics that do no require veto proof majorities, or even simply majorities in both houses of Congress. You have read it here many times:
I ask for three things: First, announce NOW that the Democratic Congress will NOT fund the Iraq Debacle after a date certain. You pick the date. Whatever works politically. If October 2007 is the date Dems can agree to, then let it be then. If March 2008, then let that be the date; Second, spend the year reminding the President and the American People every day that Democrats will not fund the war past the date certain; Third, do NOT fund the Iraq Debacle PAST the date certain.This approach has the following virtues: (1) you are funding the troops in the field; (2) you are giving the Surge a chance to work; (3) you are laying out a plan the American People support; and most importantly, (4) you can end the Debacle and bring our troops home.
Alter would counter that:
®easonable people can disagree over tactics. Sen. Russ Feingold argues that by not voting to cut off funding, Democrats are becoming complicit, and taking co-ownership of the war. Feingold's far-sightedness on the war (he was much more prescient about its folly than I was) deserves great respect. But on this narrow political point, he is mistaken. Democrats who vote to cut off funding can be more easily blamed for the war's failures, especially in swing districts. That's why the leadership is letting members vote their consciences, rather than try to enforce a party line vote that would not prevail in the end, anyway. Pelosi's position is the right one—she's voting against the bill but not trying to make others do the same.
. . . [T]o go back to my purely political critique, why go through the whole Iraq Supplemental charade? Alter says reasonable minds can disagree on tactics, but I don't accept that ANY reasonable mind can now think that the Democratic tactics on the Iraq Supplemental made sense on any level. Reasonable minds can and must see that those tactics were a failure, an abject failure that only hurt Democrats. . . . Because, whether Alter and other "pundits" and politicians, like it or not, the progressive base of the Democratic Party will punish the Party in 2008. I certainly will urge them not to. but calling them idiot liberals, Naderites and other such names will not change the fact that Democrats will be punished for not trying to end the Iraq Debacle.
Come September, if Democrats do not stick to their guns on Iraq, I predict a serious and important rift in the progressive base, one with serious political consequences in 2008.
Alter and other supporters of the Capitulation Bill best deal with THAT reality.
As the writer of the post says, the Capitulation Bill may not be foremost in the minds of voters come November 2008, but how many other capitulations will occur between now and then? The writer is extremely myopic in his reasoning and frankly, very foolish, in my opinion. It is a myopia generally seen in the Beltway, not in the blogs.