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March 28, 2007

No Brainer

By Carl Goldstein

To hear the talking heads tell it, the Democrats ought to be really worried. Why? Because both the Senate and the House of Representatives -- both controlled by the Democrats of course -- have passed emergency military spending bills that impose a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq.

By March of 08 in the case of the (nonbinding) version passed by the Senate, September of the same year in the House. Bush, meanwhile, is vowing to veto the $122 billion bill unless Democrats remove the deadlines.

I actually heard Ken Ruden, political editor for the famously leftwing media outlet NPR, speaking on the Talk of the Nation segment "Political Junkie," warn the Democrats that appearing too hardline would hurt them politically with the voters. What's really appalling is that there's a whole sub-industry of such experts, always ready to spout a story line that allows them to hover "above the fray," telling one party or another when it's gone too far. (Correction -- I mean, telling the Democrats when they've gone too far.)

Some Democratic pundits were getting in on the act as well. As an NYT piece describes, “If getting out of Iraq defines entirely who the Democrats are on national security, then over the long run, it will be a disaster,” said Matt Bennett, a co-founder of Third Way, a moderate Democratic group. Rather, Iraq needs to be part “of a larger strategy aimed at showing how to protect America’s national security interests,” he said.

Do say. Well I say, let the president veto away. All that will accomplish is to let the American people know that it is the Democratic Party that wants to end the war, while the Republicans want to continue it indefinitely.

Despite Bush's empty bombast. Speaking today, he said, in part: "If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible." Indeed they will.

I don't know why we're even still talking about this. The 2006 midterm elections decisively repudiated Bush's war. While some Republicans have broken from the party line (2008 vulnerables like Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon or GOP presidential candidate, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel) most continue to line up and salute the Commander-in-Chief when asked.

It's a tragedy for Iraq and for our nation, and will only lead to more lives being squandered for the dying embers of the neocon dream about remaking the Middle East in our image. The war will also drag down every Republican office-holder or candidate in the '08 elections. So for that we can be happy. But it comes at a high price.

Meanwhile polls continue to show strong opposition to the war and Bush's handling of it. A USA Today/Gallup poll out yesterday shows 60% favoring a deadline for withdrawal no later than September 2008, with only 38% opposing.

Democrats should also be delighted about the answers to other questions in the poll. Fully 70% answered the question -- Do you think Congress is going too far-just right-not far enough in challenging President Bush's Iraq policies -- by saying either "not far enough" or "just right."

So who's getting hurt politically here? If anything the Democrats are being too timid. But for now, Pelosi and Co. are handling it quite intelligently and are quietly ratcheting up the pressure.

Posted by Carl at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)