Democrats in Congress: We Had To Cave In; We Had No Choice

It’s not surprising, just profoundly dispiriting: Democratic “leaders” decided not to stand up to White House bullying — thereby making the next round just that much more difficult, because everyone knows that giving in to a bully makes the bully harder, not easier, to deal with. But as today’s New York Times makes clear, Democrats are terrified of the president — so much so that betraying the American people’s wishes is a tertiary concern for them:

Congressional contortions over the Iraq spending bill could end up with most House Democrats momentarily occupying the position they were so desperate to vacate: the minority.

The decision by the Democratic majority to strip the measure of a timetable for troop withdrawal has raised the prospect that it could be approved mainly by Republicans with scattered Democrat support. The idea that many Democrats would be left on the losing side in a consequential vote has exposed a sharp divide within the party, drawn scorn from antiwar groups, confused the public and frustrated the party rank and file.

But in recounting the leadership’s thinking, senior Democrats and other officials said that by early this week they had concluded there was no alternative but to give ground to President Bush despite their view that he had mishandled the war and needed to be put under tighter Congressional rein.

Democrats said they did not relish the prospect of leaving Washington for a Memorial Day break — the second recess since the financing fight began — and leaving themselves vulnerable to White House attacks that they were again on vacation while the troops were wanting. That criticism seemed more politically threatening to them than the anger Democrats knew they would draw from the left by bowing to Mr. Bush.

Some lawmakers favored sending Mr. Bush another bill with a timetable for withdrawal and risking a second veto, the senior Democrats said. But they said they had questioned whether such a measure could pass the Senate a second time, raising the possibility that Congress would be left sitting on the bill and carrying the blame.

That would be much too scary, I understand.

It gets even worse: Matt Stoller at MyDD reports that Fred Yang, a Democratic pollster, is celebrating the cave-in as an “obvious good move“:

Democrats said this week they would have jeopardized their fall bargaining position if they had insisted on keeping withdrawal timelines in the current supplemental spending bill (HR 2206). Persisting now would likely have resulted in another veto and would have handed Republicans talking points for the Memorial Day recess about which party supports the troops in the field.

Democrats were particularly worried about the prospect of Bush declaring at wreath-laying ceremonies that “Democrats have stopped resources for the troops,” said Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala.

“The problem is that we have to provide money for the troops, and if we don’t, the Democrats will be blamed,” added Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., a war opponent. “Bush has the bully pulpit, so he will define who is responsible.”

“Obviously it’s a good move,” said Democratic pollster Fred Yang. “It gives President Bush and Republicans one less thing to shoot at” during the upcoming recess week.

Matt again:

These are the attitudes of Democratic members and pollsters. There’s no evidence that Bush moves numbers anymore. In fact, when he talks he becomes less popular. He has no credibility, which means that his access to the bully pulpit is severely diminished. Yet Democrats are afraid of him. More than that, Democratic members think that by capitulating to him that Republicans will stop saying that Democrats won’t fund the troops. It’s crazy. It’s like they didn’t notice the 2002 election where they were like ‘we can take Iraq off the table’.

And while the news media is abuzz with talk of Democratic capitulation, I’m watching idiots like Louise Slaughter on C-Span saying that this is not a concession to Bush, and that Congress is fighting to end the war. And she really believes it. She really thinks that Democrats are fighting Bush with this bill. It’s amazing. It’s like la-la land.

Yang’s comments are particularly silly, though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since he accepted Third Way’s fraudulent study as ‘useful’ when it was actually statistical malpractice. There’s actually a secret problem in Democratic politics where a lot of our pollsters actually don’t know how to do professional polling. But we’ll leave that aside.

The key take-away here is that the Democratic Party is degraded and disorganized, and it shows. It’s not just that the party is bought off, though some members are. It’s that even the ones who want to do the right thing are constantly being told by people like Yang that capitulating to the President is obviously the right move, and that their concession is not actually a concession.

On the other hand, Greg Sargent thinks that Democrats have been quite courageous overall, and that this cave-in is an anomaly:

But look, what’s done is done. And now that we’re finished popping off, it needs to be said that generally this new Dem Congressional leadership has repeatedly defied expectations with its willingness to take on the White House. Just not this time.

If there’s anything that pisses me off more than the Democrats’ gutlessness, it’s liberal activists with such incredibly low standards.

Cross-posted at Liberty Street.



Filed under 05_kathy

13 responses to “Democrats in Congress: We Had To Cave In; We Had No Choice

  1. SAP

    And people still wonder why Dubya and Cheney haven’t been impeached yet.

  2. Paen

    Gutless politicos who let dubya get away with
    genocide have just as much blood on their Hands
    the administration.

  3. You know, this just lowers chances of a Democratic presidential victory in ’08, too. Especially if Republicans run Fred Thompson.

    Idiots and cowards!!

  4. It is like the White House is holding all the Dem’s children’s pets hostage.

    “Cave about timelines, or puppy and kitten are back on the menu, boys!”

  5. This is absolutely why Republicans are so much better at the game of politics. *head desk*

  6. Disgusted rank & file Democrats: The Green Party heatily welcomes you. The majority of us used to be Democrats and got fed up with this shit long ago.

  7. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    We shouldn’t overlook the possibility of actual threats against Democrats and/or their family members. Remember the anthrax mailings–whose perpetrator(s) have never been found–and which only went to Democrats, and to journalists who inconvenienced the Busheviks? And was the plane crash that killed Paul Wellstone and several other people REALLY an accident?

    One of the worst things about this administration is that it compels me to take seriously the sorts of scenarios that, in the Clinton years, I could cheerfully dismiss as paranoid claptrap.

    Also, perhaps the wealthy reactionaries have secretly bought off some of the Democratic Party’s advisors, and so the Dems are receiving DELIBERATELY bad advice?

    I will still vote for the Dems, because the only alternative is the Elephascists, but I realize that, in many ways, I will simply be voting for the sane softcore wing of the Corporate Party over the insane hardcore wing of the CP. Alas, sometimes the lesser evil is the best you can get in the real world.

    Off to the Ministry of Silly Walks, so ciao for nao.

  8. I’m not sure the bill put forward by Democrats is necessarily a “capitulation”. A stronger bill would have been swiftly vetoed by a rigid Bush. Then, he would accuse Dems of being “anti-troop.”
    Its also possible that Dems are just looking forward to 2008. Iraq is the chain pulling the GOP down. It is Bush’s war, after all. Letting him keep ownership of it might be the best thing for Democrats in the long run.

  9. I’m not sure the bill put forward by Democrats is necessarily a “capitulation”. A stronger bill would have been swiftly vetoed by a rigid Bush.

    What a load of unadulterated hog poop! These useless cocksuckers that call themselves Democrats get their asses elected to stop this fucking war and what do they do, bend down and kiss Bush’s ass just like they’ve been doing the past 6 years. The cowardly pricks love their jobs and the perks, (Pay rise every fucking year, come hell or high water is just one, freebie of all kinds from the people who profit from the war etc. etc.)and fuck the idiots who vote for them.

    Well, I for one can’t help wondering how many of these slime bags who voted for this are going to go to the funeral of some poor kid who died for the shit they’ve all been supporting the past 6 years during their little vacation? Not a single one I’ll bet because none of them actually know any of these types and their own kids or grandkids aren’t stupid enough to run off to “Support their country” now are they. Assholes the lot of them!

  10. cp

    The rest of the world is watching, and this looks really, really bad.

  11. oddjob

    As I linked to once before, only once in American history has a Congress cut funds to troops actively engaged in hostilities. It happened when the Federalists did it to Madison during “Mr. Madison’s War” (aka the War of 1812).

    Despite the fact that this was a deeply unpopular war often blamed solely on Madison, the political fallout to the opposition Federalists was so bad that within a few years the party vanished.

    Like it or not, at present the only way to overcome Shrub’s vetoes is with Republican votes, and they aren’t yet voting that way.

    Rail all you like, but if you refuse to acknowledge the obvious you’re all just pissing into the wind.

  12. markg8

    I agree oddjob.

    The fact of the matter is unless we get 67 senators to override a veto we don’t have enough votes to get us out of Iraq. It can be done but the people we have to pressure are
    Republicans. Here are some suggestions and a link to little a primer I wrote on how to get in to see these guys. If anybody has any other good ideas I’d like to hear them.

    As I see it Bush just forced Dems to pass out cups to his party for the poison kool aid he’s making them. The surge is a whackamole joke. There’s not only no chance there’s going to be “progress” in Iraq by the end of September but
    there’s a 50/50 chance Maliki’s government will collapse.

    Come the fall Republicans can either vote with Bush and make other career plans or they can do the right thing and break with the boyking and try to save their careers.

    The pressure has to come from us. Repubs in congress don’t listen to Dems, they’re the opposing team. We the people are the ticket buying public AND the refs.

  13. Adrian Alejandro

    “How dare they surrender when we are trying to force a surrender? Don’t they understand you can’t win by surrendering?”

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